Hailing from Kuopio and Helsinki in the winter lands of Finland comes Kuolemanlaakso which in Finnish translates as “Death Valley”.
You could say that since Kuolemanlaakso’s inception back in 2010 they have courted nothing but success. Last year their debut album “Uljas Uusi Maailma” (Finnish for Brave New World) was picked up by Finnish label Svart Records and met with many a popular review and in keeping with the bands upward trajectory Svart have also released this release, the bands brand new four track EP entitled “Musta Aurinko Nousee” (Translates as “Black Sun”)
A further matter of interest regarding Kuolemanlaakso is that their work and lyrical themes are centred around the writings of Finnish poet and journalist Eino Leino (1878 – 1926) whose poetry was considered to be pioneering in its use of folk elements as well as touching on such moods as love, despair and being Finnish, of course nature. His work was also considered to be similar in style to the Finnish epic the Kalevala.
Of this EP the first thing to take note of is the fabulous artwork, one of the best I have seen on any release in years. The lady arms out stretched, prostrating herself in the forest, surrounded by nothing but nature and the wild, the elements have her at her mercy as the rising fiery sun comes into view. Could the band have chosen a more perfect cover for this record?
Listen to this EP a few times as I have and you’ll fall in love with “Musta Aurinko Nousee”. It has many subtle layers that won’t reveal themselves to you on the first two or three plays so patience is required. Opening with “Me vaellamme yössä” (We Walk in the Night) the band set a nice flowing tempo with a steady comfortable riff dominating the sound, yet with the odd flaring keyboard undertone that unsettles your balance and makes you take a much closer listen. typically controlled death/doom growled vocals enter into the mix and backed by a sturdy bass and drumming display the stage is set, the seeds firmly and deeply planted for Kuolemanlaakso to expand their sound.
And expand their sound they do. Taking influence mainly from death/doom one might say they also take little bits and pieces from a more Gothic doom style also and the occasional hint of melody reminds me some what of the slower chorus sections from a few Draconian songs I’ve heard over the years.
“Tulenväki” has a translation i’m not sure of but kicks in with an even more measured sound, slower yet more dominating. The bands more technical prowess on guitar is highlighted here as is a deeper, more droning style of vocals. Also of note the bands darker, more classical undertone comes to the fore. Again the Gothic doom element re-appears as whist the main vocal style is more rasping and black metal like, the deeper chants feel very Pete Steele like.
“Kalmoskooppi” hits in with a slow drooping dream like intro before the band come in with a hard hitting catchy groove driven track. Further into the song everything slows and dies away leaving the sounds of nature in the background and the rumble of bass before everything once more kicks back into play with supreme effect.
The EP ends with “Musta aurinko nousee” which is a Juice Leskinen cover and in both vocals, bass play and overall vibe the slower style of Type O Negative is never more evident than here in the bands sound. Yet despite this the band make the song their own, atmospheric, catchy an the perfect ending to a gripping release.