01. Pimeys Laski
02. Katkeruuden Malja
03. Surusta Meri Suolainen
04. Kuohista Tulisten Koskien
05. Surun Sinfonia
06. Pedon Vaisto
As any dedicated fan of ultra-miserable, deathly doom metal will tell you, the Finns have absolutely got their shit together. Although less well-known, KUOLEMANLAAKSO deserve to be regarded along those other benchmarks of funeral and melancholic doom metal: SHAPE OF DESPAIR, SKEPTICISM and SWALLOW THE SUN. Across a series of fascinating and emotionally supercharged albums, this shadowy unit have become increasingly potent. Led by the enigmatic presence of SWALLOW THE SUN frontman Mikko Kotamäki, KUOLEMANLAAKSO have long threatened to produce something special, and “Kuusumu” is precisely that. More overtly gothic and theatrical than any of the aforementioned, the Finns’ sound has truly blossomed here over seven wistful but punishing nose-dives into the dark.
A feast of macabre keyboards and leaden grooves, “Pimeys laski” is the perfect, bleak entry point into KUOLEMANLAAKSO‘s fourth full-length. Echoes of MY DYING BRIDE are unmistakable, but this band’s love of haunting, horror atmospherics and multi-layered vocals sets things immediately apart from anything so familiar. Kotamäki‘s vocals are as versatile and commanding as ever, as he slips seamlessly between scabrous bark and sonorous croon, gaining intensity as the song gathers speed. “Katkeruuden malja” takes the mid-paced fervor a step further, evoking a cracked-mirror mirage of SISTERS OF MERCY and SENTENCED and hurling giant chorus hooks into the opaque ether. In wild and vivid contrast, “Surusta meri suolainen” brings things back down to the slow-motion syrup of funeral doom, before embarking on a thrilling, chameleonic journey through prog-psych peaks and cudgeling, death metal troughs. As the whistling spiral of an analogue synth collides with triumphant, ornate riffing, KUOLEMANLAAKSO exhibit depths and dynamism that marks them out as masters of this stuff.
Unencumbered by anything as old fashioned as a formula, “Kuusumu” has space for both great heavy metal songwriting and prolonged moments of off-the-wall inspiration. A thunderous death / doom anthem with atmosphere, character and grit, “Kuohista tulisten koskien” swings in an old-school way, armed with another titanic chorus. On the flipside, “Surun sinfonia” is a staggering, eight-minute blaze of refined majesty, KUOLEMANLAAKSO‘s progressive tendencies are on full display and a wickedly guttural and charismatic vocal from Kotamäki wrings yet more hooks from the glacial slurry. After that, “Pedon vaisto” turns the lights out and veers off on a pummeling, blackened tangent, with more infernal menace than seems strictly reasonable; while the closing “Tulessakävelijä” is pompous, melodramatic and unashamedly overblown (but in the best way possible) and insidiously accessible with it.
This is a mature and sophisticated record, albeit one rooted in classically morbid musical archetypes. Despite often being cited as one of the best places to live on this accursed planet, Finnish bands seem linked up to the misery mainframe in a more profound and enduring way than everyone else. Whatever the reason, KUOLEMANLAAKSO are honoring and nurturing a noble tradition with records as gripping and colorful as this one.
To comment on a
story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you’re logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of
does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the “Report to Facebook” and “Mark as spam” links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to Phoosi(@)gmail.com with pertinent details.
reserves the right to “hide” comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to “ban” users that violate the site’s Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user’s Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a “banned” user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the “banned” user’s comments will only be visible to the user and the user’s Facebook friends).