Since all my “Things You Might Have Missed” this year came from the doom genre, I thought I’d shake things up with… some doom/death! Yes I know, not a very big shake up, but worthwhile metal is worthwhile. Anywho, Kuolemanlaakso is a Finnish doom/death act with an insanely complicated name, composed of members from Swallow the Sun and Chaosweaver and they rock a rather simple, but very effective style of death/doom that somehow remains accessible. Musta Aurinko Nousee is a rather short four song EP and though it follows in the same style as their Uljas Uusi Maailma debut, these songs feel more mature and polished. The music is direct, no nonsense and bare bones, but delivers a really enjoyable and heavy listen and keeps me coming back for more.
I love the way lead track “Me Vaellamme Yossa” channels the riffs and moods of Black Vanity era Cemetery into a much heavier sound and the low register death roars of Mikko Kotamaki (Swallow the Sun, Barren Earth) really mesh well with the straight-ahead, groove-ish riffing, which is quite hooky. “Tulenvaki” adopts blackened vocals and a somewhat epic Viking style to the riffs without fully abandoning the doom/death format, and as it grinds along, it manages to embed itself deep in the wrinkles of the brain with its earnest and forthright style. The title track introduces gothy clean vocals akin to Pete Steele as the song takes on a strong Sentenced vibe, and even when the death voxs make a comeback, the music stays fairly melodic and sedate.
This is one of those releases that makes you puzzle over why you like it as much as you do. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before, yet it hooks you in. The riffing and melodic phrasing by Savon Surma and Marko Laakso (both of Chaosweaver) is professional and razor-sharp and more often than not, sticks to the ribs. The vocals run a gamut of styles, but always work and though the lyrics are all in Finnish, it doesn’t matter much and if anything, it makes things more kvlt. The writing is often minimalist, but it works and the songs are short enough to avoid overstaying their welcome. Less here, is certainly more.
Coming across like a more mellow and diverse Hooded Menace, Musta Aurinko Nousee is a tasty doom/death amuse bouche and portends good things for the band’s future. And since it’s Finnish, it’s obviously appropriate for the chilly melancholy of the winter season. If Finns know anything, it’s winter weeping and ice peeping!