The idea for symphonic metal band Arion was hatched in the fall of 2011 in the famed music school Sibelius Lukio in Helsinki, where drummer Topias Kupiainen and keyboardist Arttu Vauhkonen got together with guitar whiz kid Iivo Kaipainen. In short order, the threesome found bass player Georgi Velinov and vocalist Viljami Holopainen to round out the band.
Musically astonishingly accomplished, the newcomers raised some serious waves right off the bat in January 2013 when they debuted their debut song “Lost,” a symphonic metal gem in its own right, on television, participating in Finnish television’s UMK song contest.
Soon enough the 17–18 year old teen prodigies’ exceptionally impressive musical chops caught the attention of Mr. Riku Pääkkönen, the owner of Ranka Kustannus and the mastermind behind the overnight success stories of Children Of Bodom, Nightwish, Sonata Arctica and several others. In May 2013 Arion signed a recording deal with Ranka and entered the studio to record their debut EP “New Dawn.” “New Dawn” was released in November 2013 the same year to critical acclaim, while the band was already forging one of the most jaw-dropping metal debuts in Finland ever, “Last Of Us.”
There’s probably no other nation as vigilant for melodic metal music as Japan, where the love for beauty and aesthetics has blanketed all sorts of art for millennia. The Japanese are famous for their appetite for power metal, so, as crazy as it might sound, it shouldn’t even surprise anyone that Arion played their first concerts in Tokyo and Nagoya already before releasing their debut album.
Ergo, it’s only fitting that Arion became one of those ultra-rare European artists whose debut album was released in Japan before its domestic release. Grandiose yet heartfelt, “Last Of Us” still stands as a one of a kind jewel in its genre, an album that hasn’t lost one iota of its splendor since the day of its release in July 2014.
A year later, in August 2015, singer Viljami Holopainen amicably left the band stating that his heart lies in other kind of music, and the band announced their new singer, Lassi Vääränen. In March 2016 Vääränen’s mettle was tested and proven worthy with his recording debut as a member of Arion on the explosive duet “At The Break Of Dawn” with Elize Ryd of Amaranthe fame. To date “At The Break Of Dawn” still is in heavy radio rotation in the nationwide Finnish Radio Rock and stands as the most streamed Arion song across all digital platforms.
After three more powerhouse singles; the thought-provoking “Unforgivable”, the heartrending ballad “Through Your Falling Tears” and the clarion call “No One Stands In My Way,” scattered through the next 2,5 years bring us now to the brink of release of Arion’s sophomore album “Life Is Not Beautiful.” And as potent the singles quadrilogy is, “Life Is Not Beautiful” is much more than a hit singles compilation. No, we would venture to claim that songs such as the in-your-face “Punish You” and the bombastic, melodic bullet train of “The Last Sacrifice,” lest we forget the album’s closing statement “Life Is Not Beautiful,” will squish some rivalling songwriters’ self-confidence for years to come…
Crafted every bit as meticulously as its predecessor, “Life Is Not Beautiful” is Arion’s declaration of independence. On their debut largely guided by their kind colleagues Matias Kupiainen (Stratovarius) and Jani Liimatainen (The Dark Element, Cain’s Offering), Arion now proudly demonstrate the next level in their musical progress and band leader Iivo Kaipainen’s newly found lyrical prowess.
World of metal beware! Arion are not the curiosity of a band of green-horned teenager prodigies anymore. Having faced just the right amount of adversity to gel as a band and improved in leaps and bounds, Arion are not just able – they’re ready and raring to go!
Read our review here.