Bjorko – Heartrot

Bjorko - Heartrot



4.1/5 Pros

  • Ten very different songs
  • Interesting group of Scandinavian guest musicians Cons

  • Rather a compilation than an album

You might not know Bjorko (or: Bjørkø, how it is spelled correctly) – but if you are a metal fan, you might know the person behind it. The name is an alter ego of Tomo Koivusaari, a guitarist of Amorphis. The band feels to be in a certain mood for solo projects – I shared Silver Lake by his bandmate Esa Holopainen some two years ago. On 1st December 2023, it is time for Heartrot – here are my thoughts.


Bjorko – About The Artists

Tomi Koivusaari was born on 11th April 1973. He is a founding member of Amorphis. However, Koivusaari also had some other band projects, including Adhorrence in the late 1980’s / early 1990’s and Ajattara, who released four albums between 2001 and 2006. The artist name Bjorko means “Birch Island”, by the way – and that’s exactly what Koivusaari would mean in Finnish as well. Heartrot is the first Bjorko album.


Bjorko – Heartrot – Track by Track

The ten song album lasts 42 minutes.

1. The Heartroot Rots (feat. Jeff Walker)

A key feature of Heartrot is the wide range of guest musicians. For the first album, Koivusaari takes the role of the backing vocalist and leaves the more prominent microphone spot to Jeff Walker. The song is an angry death metal style track. The song definitely sounds promising.

2. Vaka Loka (feat. Addi Tryggvason)

In another critic, I read that Heartrot is rather a compilation than an album. The rationale behind this statement is that Koivusaari collected song ideas over many years and put them into this set of tracks. It is really hard to imagine that the much more melodic Vaka Loka is part of the same (debut) studio album like the opener. Waltteri Väyrynen on the drums is also having a much more relaxed day in his rhythmic office.

3. Whitebone Wind (feat. Marco Hietala)

Doesn’t this one sound like Nightwish? One of the key factors is of course guest musician Marco Hietala, who is sharing lead vocal duties with Swedish Petronella Nettermalm. Nicely tootling melody lines – Bjorko almost feels a bit of kitschy in Whitebone Wind compared to the first two songs.

4. Värinvaihtaja feat. Ismo Alanko)

The compilation character of Heartrot is also underlined by different languages used. For the fourth song, which I can only quote by using copy and paste, you listen to Finnish. Hope you don’t expect a detailed translation to what Ismo Alanko is singing there. The very successful Finnish rock vocalists sounds really nice, though.

5. Awakening

The Awakening just takes us on a 66 second long journey. No language or vocals here – the instrumental sounds rather traditional.

6. World as Fire and Hallucination (feat. Shagrath)

Having a guest from the legendary symphonic black metal kings Dimmu Borghir already suggests that this song is rather a treat for hard and dark metal fans. Not as massive and bombastic as a song by the Norwegians – we don’t want to frighten the rock listeners too much in here.

7. The Trickster (feat. Jessi Frey)

With Jessi Frey from Velcra, Koivusaari somehow travels back in his musical career – he was part of the band as well. The Trickster is one of my favorite tracks. In the verses, Jessi Frey sounds dirty and aggressive, while the chorus is gentle, melodic and almost feels pop-ish in contrast to that.

8. Hooks in the Sky (feat. Tomi Joutsen)

With Tomi Joutsen, Bjorko gets some support from his very own band Amorphis. The song turns into a massive growling battle. On top of that, the song has a great groove and stays in your mind. One of the best recordings of the album, which also has very gentle and quiet moments.

9. Magenta (feat. Mariska)

One of the two single releases of the album has been Magenta, for which Bjorko collaborates with Finnish rapper Mariska. The rapping talent of the 44 year old lady from Helsinki stays hidden though – she is playing a very melodic role in this almost power ballad-alike song. If you don’t like the dark metal vibes too much, this one might indeed be on the top of your list.

10. Reverberations (feat. Sakari Kukko)

And finally, there is jazz – at least that’s the genre Sakari Kukko is known for. And, indeed, the instrumental finale with saxophone feels very virtuous.



Bjorko – Heartrot – Spotify

Here is Heartrot on Spotify:


Bjorko – Heartrot – My View

I feel that this is a typical “love it or hate it” album. On the one hand, Heartrot is very versatile. In all genres of rock and metal, there you will find a song you enjoy in here. On the other hand, due to the wide range of songs, there are likely some tracks you feel being less enjoyable. Vice versa, you might explicitly be impressed by that wide range and talent of the Finnish musician. Ups and downs while listening – I like the album, but as the songs just cannot form a good set, a good story in this concept, I am not that fascinated about it.


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