Written By: Lokasenna

As an armchair linguist and general language nerd, I love listening to material in a language I don’t know. A sextet of Finnish Satanists and black metal veterans, Ajattara have a platter that fits that bill, and because of my total unfamiliarity with them, I approached the record with totally open ears. Lupaus, the band’s ninth full-length following a six-year hiatus, is a bit of a genre puzzle, as it’s hard for me to call it straight black metal. It reminds me most of modern era Rotting Christ or Abbath, despite sounding like neither, in that it blends melodic black metal roots with death metal and other elements to carve out a unique sound.

As mentioned, the lyrics are all in Finnish, so despite a very well-enunciated vocal performance from frontman Ruoja, the lyrical content is more than a little opaque. Fortunately, the band provide enough information to puzzle out its contents, language barrier or no. Described by the band themselves as a requiem for Satan, the whole record has a somewhat solemn thread running through its standard black metal sinisterity. I could be way off on this, but it leaves me with a distinct impression of actual religious Satanism, though a very different sort than that professed by the likes of Deathspell Omega. The sermon-like chanting of “Suru” or the bell accompaniment and strained, pained vocals of the title track serve to reinforce this most feeling. It’s not all somberness and gravitas, though, as “Amen” and “Ave Satanis” protect the middle of the album from an all-too-common sag, with up-tempo riffage and driving rhythm work, a call and response chorus on the former, and great tremmy riffing in the chorus of the latter. This variation in tempo and instrumental focus from track to track is one of the album’s greatest strengths.

My favorite sections are up-tempo, like the quick start-stop trem riffs and sharp solo on opener “Saatanan Sinetti,” the rollicking bass of “Ristinkirot,” and the truly stellar riff work and chanting chorus on standout track “Uhrilahja.” Overall composition is tight, with the band cohesive and seamless, even on tracks I find a bit less compelling, leaving it difficult to call out particular selections as good or bad. The mix only contributes to this, with everything balanced but clear. Even the bass rings out when shadowing the rhythm guitar, which might as well be a unicorn in the context of black metal. And when the bass does step aside for a riff or two, said leads are nice and slinky. The riffage is consistently engaging, albeit not earworm-y like the all-time greats. All that said, the drum work doesn’t stand out as anything special, playing a more supplemental role on much of the album.

It’s difficult to call out problems with this record. “Suru” was a tad dull to my ear, granted, and “Ave Satana” might be too springy for some listeners, but the only major problem is the master. The dynamic range of 6 is consistent across the entire album, and as well put-together a package as it is, I shudder to think what it might have sounded like with more room to breath. The only other minor nitpick I have is that album closer “Machete” feels tacked on, despite being decent. I almost get the feeling that it’s a cover, but the promo doesn’t flag it as such and I can’t find anything by that title.

In spite of a slightly squashed master, this album kills. I’ve no idea if this is top ten material for me, but I will most certainly be revisiting this many, many times in the future, as well as digging through the band’s back catalog.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Svart Records
Websites: ajattara.fi | facebook.com/ajattara
Releases Worldwide: May 12th, 2017

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  • Bob Lunger

    Nowhere near as good as ‘Exuvia’ by the ruins of beverast,in my less than humble opinion. The review though, as always is perfect though.

    • Westpaceagle

      TRoB has been on it’s own level for a while now. Peerless imho.

      Very briefly sampled this Ajattara but clearly need to revisit

      • Nag Dammit

        Maybe if there were more unicorns and rainbows. But only then.

      • metalcasket

        Peerless? As far as black metal in 2017 goes, nothing touches Nokturnal Mortum’s Verity, imo.

        • AngryMetalBird

          oh thank you…

        • You wot m8?

          I’ve always steered clear of Nokturnal Mortum’s material because of the *ahem* questionable content of their early days. However, I’ve heard they’ve toned down on that particular front more recently. Any truth to that?

          • metalcasket

            I’d link you directly to the Facebook post, but just dump the following into Google:

            “Salute! Many things change as years pass… Nokturnal Mortum”

            Obviously Verity’s just come out and I have no clue what’s going on with the lyrics, but…yeah, I think that shit’s a thing of the past.

          • You wot m8?

            Thanks, brother. I’ll give it a listen…

        • Westpaceagle

          Looking at the discog for both I stand by my claim. NM is not my cup of tea, I did sample this latest but the ‘folk’ flourishes seemed manic and contrived. Need to give it a fair listen apparently

          • metalcasket

            To each his own, buddy. I feel like the folk aspects of both Verity and The Voice of Steel are central to Nokturnal Mortum’s sound.

            As for Exuvia, I’ve seriously tried to listen to it time and time again in the hope that something will grab me by throat and make me fall in love with it, but it just does nothing for me.

          • Westpaceagle

            Yeah, I can totally understand its a slow burn. And I will pull out the old ‘check out the earlier albums’ line…but if you are not into Rain Upon the Impure, Blood Vaults, ect then Exuvia is not going to be as strong as a stand alone. I put TRoB on a pretty high pedestal, guilty as charged.

            Just finished listening to NM again without distractions…its really good. Not my favorite, and the language thing is a barrier which is too bad because it sounds pretty discernable if you speak Ukrainian or Russian. Anyway it is an impressive album. Rock on M/

          • metalcasket

            With a response like that, how could I not give Exuvia one last chance? Later today I’m gonna put on a pair of headphones and dedicate an hour to just the album. ;)

            Oh, and heh…I’m extremely biased toward The Voices of Steel, so Verity was love at first “sight”. I know exactly where you’re coming from.

          • IBlackened

            Maybe you should try ‘Unlock the Shrine’. It’s TRoB most “standard” Black Metal album with a much clearer production than ‘Rain Upon the Impure’

  • Dagoth_RAC

    I think center guy in promo picture is trying to do a cliche invisible orange thing, but it looks more like he is playing an invisible violin.

    • defjam

      Invisible wankery maybe?

      • Nag Dammit

        He cracked a nail getting his skirt on.

  • Drew Music

    The That(guy)-Signal is up, any minute now this photo will get a review. Not the one it deserves, but the one it needs.

    • That will go…badly.

      • Drew Music

        I have faith.

    • Thatguy

      Fear not, a bit late, but here I am.

      Love the band photo for its inherent silliness. Six Finnish satanists is a silly concept and these guys are playing up to it.

      Great review and I have to go looking this album now.

      P.S. Also sounds great. A bit silly, but great.

      • [not a Dr]

        Doesn’t the Band Photometer say that these guys are one Finnish satanist short of a sextet?

  • Wilhelm

    That one dude is like “I’m absolutely not wearing a skirt, losers””

  • Eli Valcik

    Two 4.0 Black Metal albums in a row!

    • Drew Music

      Hail Satan!

  • aaron bergman

    Ruoja is the singer from Amorphis.

    • Grymm

      So that IS Pasi Koskinen.

    • Wilhelm

      I miss Pasi’s clean vocals :(

      • c210344

        Me too, but hearing what he does with Ajattara & did with Shape of Despair makes me really sad that he hardly did any non-cleans on the Amorphis albums…

      • Stevhan The Invincible

        There’s some on this latest Ajattara LP. I was quite surprised by this. I haven’t listened to their last (few?) pre-hiatus albums but on the early Ajattara stuff there were virtually no cleans. Also I still think their all-accoustic black metal freak-out weird-fest Noitumaa is one of the best things ever.

    • Lokasenna

      Thank you for pointing this out! I had missed that in my research.

      • aaron bergman

        Still an excellent review. Well done.

  • Diego Molero

    Why is there a newbie reviewing a 4.0? Metalcore ran out?

    • He got really, really lucky. That luck has now run out.

      • You wot m8?

        Spare the rod, spoil the child.

        You know what must be done…

  • Reese Burns

    One of the things I absolutely love about metal is the fact that you can say things like “a sextet of Finnish satanists” and it’s completely normal.

    • Paul VH

      I don’t know, nowadays that’s pretty tame even for the evening news.

    • Paul VH

      A car full of Syrian jihadists scares me more than any amount of corpse paint wearing Scandinavians.

  • Wes Allen

    Guy on the far left needs to flex a little harder.

    • Nag Dammit

      Or he needs to get him some Fight Milk!

      • c210344

        “I just puked on my dick”

      • Wes Allen

        He looks ready to tussle, but we all know he’d be creamed without a healthy swig of Fight Milk.

        • Nag Dammit

          Nothing like fight milk to help you cut weight and fight like a crow.

  • AngryMetalBird

    when I see this kind of band picture I always wonder what must have gone through their heads… “oh let it be over, damn you label guys!”

  • foreverAlfon

    The song “Suru” is something like Immortal meets Solstáfir and they have a beautiful satanic baby.

    • Drew Music

      Where ‘suru’ means ‘woe or grief’ (assuming the interwebz are to be trusted) then really Suru is pretty much the perfect name for any baby, beautifully Satanic or otherwise.

  • Drew Music

    Dat third More Angry link tho…

  • David D.

    I’m getting some Black Mark-era Bathory from this album as well. Really enjoying what I’ve heard so far.

  • Anyone on the fence about this should note that Svart Records are doing a flash sale on Bandcamp right now – 50% off with the code ‘svart’.