Progress can be a hard thing to accept. Whether you’re talking about laws being made, a review being worked on, or something just as simple as changing up your daily routine, throwing any type of wrench into the gears to liven things up a bit can be met with an unreasonable amount of resistance from certain people. Case in point? Finland’s Teloch keep their blackened trade squarely in the 90’s, eschewing angular riffs, symphonic bells and whistles, gossamer female singing, and every other fad that’s been tossed into the burning salad over the last twenty-odd years. Their second album, Thus Darkness Spake, gives the spiked finger to the very notion of forward progress. They march to their own blastbeat, dammit!
And “Currents” comes barreling out of the gates with a guitar riff lifted right off The Somberlain, leading me to believe that this will be a worthy Dissection clone, and it does do a good job of emulating Sweden’s coldest export. Vocalist Odium injects his own spin on this classic sound, coming across as a mix of Maniac’s (ex-Mayhem) schizophrenic screams and Rainer Landfermann’s (ex-Bethlehem) howls. There’s an interesting acoustic guitar melody about halfway in, where Det and Routa display their melodic chops with bassist B.R.F. supplying a solid rhythm. We return to some blasts, and the song ends with a pained howl. Not a bad way to kick off the album.
But there’s a bit of a problem, and it’s fairly large. There are interesting segments on Thus Darkness Spake, and some of those moments are captivating, like the intro riff to “Obliteration.” Teloch seemingly agrees, as they take those intriguing moments and basically run them into the ground. The amount of repetitive parts within songs is mindnumbing to the point of lethargy. The mostly instrumental title track would make a great two-minute song, but is more than double that length. “Towards Perdition,” the album’s shortest song at a hair under four minutes, feels longer due to the repetitive nature of the riffs, while “Hymni Tulelle,” the album’s longest song at over ten minutes, feels like an eternity for the very same reason.
Not helping matters is the production, which is squashed and too damn loud. Odium’s vocals are mixed way too high and sound too piercing. Sota’s drums feel a bit muffled and distant, fighting for air beyond the guitars and vocals. Miraculously, B.R.F.’s bass is audible and punchy. But again, the songwriting could use some work. Part of what made Dissection memorable, musically speaking, was the variety and technicality of their songs. There was some repetition, to be sure, but they made up for it with their musicianship, and Teloch isn’t quite there yet.
While this isn’t a bad release, Thus Darkness Spake isn’t all that memorable, either. The Finns are exhibiting some promise, though, so maybe with their next release, we will admire the silence of where more dead angels are lain. Until then, move along, folks.