Sjak : Auri is the collaboration between Nightwish mastermind Tuomas Holopainen, his wife Johanna Kurkela and Nightwish band member Troy Donockly, which now give their first sign of life by means of this eponymously entitled debut album. All those of you who expect now that Auri will play in a similar style as Nightwish will be disappointed, because they are taking a totally different path in the muscial spectrum. On this debut album Auri brings us a balanced mix of folk, pop and symphonic elements, in which especially the vocals of Johanna play an important role. Having said this, it also means that this album is absolutely not suited for the majority of the Lords Of Metal readers, but the progressive and symphonic rock fans will certainly be able to appreciate this.
As said the majority of the offered material is centred around the great voice of Johanna Kurkela and she delivers a phenomenal performance on this record. Just listen to opening track ‘The Space Between’, the ballad ‘Desert Flower’ and the symphonic ‘The Name Of The Wind’, on which Johanna truly showcases her vocal capabilities. This, together with the great musicianship of both gentlemen Holopainen and Donockly, makes sure that you will remain interested from start to finish, despite of the fact that everything is quite soft. In all honesty I must admit that beforehand I absolutely didn’t expect this, but the song material on offer, the strong production and the excellent vocals of Johanna have turned my initial scepsis into a healthy interest. ‘Auri’ is however only suited for people who are open-minded enough to let go of their heavy metal frame of reference and open up for good, but at the same time quite soft, symphonically tinted folk rock. If you’re able to make that step, you will agree with me that ‘Auri’ is an absolute top album in its genre.