Marco Hietala – Pyre of the Black Heart

marcoAnd now we get the English version of this great album. Though, most of you will already be familiar with this (if you too are a fan of Nightwish), having heard the Finnish version released last year. And yes, I like it. A lot. But then again, I’m a big fan of his work with Nightwish, so it was kind of expected. But now, the rest of us, in part, get to delve into the lyrics too. But I’m gonna tell ya… not much brightness here, as the title kind of gives away. There are glimmers of hope and light here and there, but it’s a fairly dark album. And I can’t help but make comparisons to Nightwish, as would be expected, and unsurprisingly, bass is featured prominently. Let’s dig in.

Stones, the first single released (See below), is a great rocker that starts off and sets the mood of the album. Not sure what Marko has against rocks, but man, he sees them everywhere. Or maybe he likes them. I don’t know. At first, the repetition on this one bothered me but it is growing on me.

The Voice of My Father is a slower track with some nice synthwave sounds in the chorus. Seems to be kind of speaking out against following religion. A theme that pops up here from time to time.

“They told us that we are dust. But we are ashes of the stars.”

Just when I think we are getting a synthwave laced track, Stars, Sand, and Shadow quickly changes to an upbeat rocker. One of the catchier choruses on the album. He does have a penchant for them. Not unlike one of Nightwish’s straight ahead rockers. And that is a good thing!


Dead God’s Son seems to tell the story of a lost soul. It is a slower , brooding track with yet another great and catchy chorus.

“Journey into fear. Home was never here.”

For You has a bit of a heavy electronic sound to it. Very much a slow burn of song and the longest one on the album. But again… great melodies. And a great, pink Floydish guitar solo that really fits the atmosphere and closes the track.

I am the way starts out with a piano and Marko singing as a slow intro, then more electronic percussion driving the verses. Another slow burn of a song. Then the full band comes in with a meaty chugging riff and a soaring chorus. Lyrically? A ballad from the devil? Not sure…

“House of High Heaven. Houses of the damned, sixes and seven.” I learned a new term here.

A rocker is very much needed at this point, and Runner of the Railways, fiddle filled and all, delivers. It’s a catchy song that I really like… except for the extremely repetitive chorus. Never liked one line, repeated choruses and I never will. So I tolerate this song for the killer music and instrumental section.

“Ooohhhh oooohhh ooohhhh ohhhhhh” Sorry. Having a hard time making out the other lyrics. Ha!

Death March For Freedom has a really dirty bass beginning (love it!) and then the full band kicks in and gives us yet another catchy as hell song. Marko knows how to write a great melody. There are no two songs alike here. And ends with what sounds kind of like a gospel choir and some fantastic keys and some driving drums.

Man, I love the bass tone on I Dream. It features prominently on this track. With a smooth vocal delivery from Marco that turns into a spoken word at times. The full band joins in a little later, but still with a slow brooding sound. It seems to be about self reflection on one’s worth and deeming one’s self not worthy? Maybe I missed the meaning here.

“My hopes go up against the black space. Defiant. Then at once they die.”

We close out with a slower, acoustic track called Truth, with as hopeful of lyrics as your going to find on this album. And the end of this one is just beautiful with the heavy drums, orchestration, and acoustic guitar. What a way to end the album.

“I’m grateful for the pain. It says we are alive.”

This album took a little to grow on me fully, but it did. You can definitely hear Nightwish’s influence, in both music and lyrics, on Marco (or vice versa) but this is definitely a different sound over all. And the production is fantastic. Such a great mix that lets you hear everything.

Rating 9/10

1. Stones
2. The Voice Of My Father
3. Star, Sand And Shadow
4. Dead God’s Son
6. For You
7. I Am The Way
8. Runner Of The Railways
9. Death March For Freedom
10. I Dream

11. Truth Shall Set You Free

Label: Nuclear Blast

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