Rating:
8.0
Kuolemanlaakso - Tulijoutsen
28 February 2014


01. Aarnivalkea
02. Verihaaksi
03. Me Vaellamme Yössä
04. Arpeni
05. Musta
06. Glastonburyn Lehto
07. Tuonen Tähtivyö
08. Raadot Raunioilla


If there's one country whose metal scene has particularly caught my interest in recent years, it's Finland. Facilitated primarily through Svart Records, the country's underground is alive and active, with bands ranging from the groovy (Domovoyd, Altar Of Betelgeuze), the eerie (Tyranny, Dark Buddha Rising), and the outright bizarre (Oranssi Pazuzu, Candy Cane). Relatively new on the scene are Kuolemanlaakso, death doomsters here to shatter concrete with their heaviness and soothe minds with their melodies.

With their sophomore effort, Tulijoutsen ("The Fire Swan," hence the album cover), Kuolemanlaakso go for an attempt at striking a balance between intense and relaxing. For more or less the first half of the album, the band plunge their listeners into a harsh atmosphere of extreme doom, with thick pulsating riffs and deep growls that, while perhaps not overly memorable, are certainly easy to fall back and groove out to. While delivered well, at some points this formula can feel a bit redundant, with the music coming across as a bit monotonous and as lacking a good degree of variety. Thankfully, however, this is not all there is to the formula that is Kuolemanlaakso, and the band manage to slightly redeem themselves in the album's second half.

For Tulijoutsen also contains a highly melodic, relaxed atmosphere at points as well, that in some ways effectively captures the beauty of the Finnish landscape and sees the band delving into an almost ancestral homage to their homeland, especially on "Glastonburyn Lehto," which contains none of the death doom elements from before and sounds more like a folk ballad than anything else. Unfortunately though, this is the only such track that is just straight melody throughout. Granted, other moments of such beauty do occur ("Verihaaksi," "Arpeni," and the excellent "Tuonen Tähtivyö"), but when they do, they're all infused with the death doom elements, not standing alone independently of them. In some ways this makes Kuolemanlaakso's more epic side feel a bit underdeveloped on Tulijoutsen, and it left me wishing they had dug deeper into it. But in all consideration, I suppose it's better to have these elements be there subtly than for them to be nonexistent and have us left with just another boring extreme doom album.

Taken in full, Tulijoutsen is another fair contribution to Finland's growing metal underground from a young, promising band. Kuolemanlaakso definitely have room for improvement, and hopefully in the future they'll refine their sound into a more 50/50 balance between their extreme and melodic elements, but their 2014 output is certainly a step in the right direction, and worthy of your listening if you like groovy music with some epic undertones.

Check out "Tuonen Tähtivyö" over here.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 9


Band profile: Kuolemanlaakso
Album: Tulijoutsen


 



Written on 02.02.2014 by
Apothecary
"Show me a sane man, and I will cure him for you"
-Carl Jung
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Boxcar Willy - 02.02.2014 at 20:45  
That cover had me interested from the start. Good review!
Apothecary - 02.02.2014 at 21:58  
Written by Boxcar Willy on 02.02.2014 at 20:45

That cover had me interested from the start. Good review!

Yup, they say don't judge a book by it's cover, but that's what drew me to this album in the first place, and for the most part it's pretty legit
Troy Killjoy - 03.02.2014 at 00:23  
This actually sounds pretty fuckin' cool, and that cover art is stunning. Will definitely remember to give this a listen upon its release.
SmokyPeat - 24.02.2014 at 20:43  
You can stream the full album here: http://www.inferno.fi/uutiset/tulijoutsen-kylvaa-melankolista-melodiaa-ja-raskaita-riffeja-kuolemanlaakson-albumi-ennakkokuunneltavissa/

Not bad so far. I haven't reached the midway point yet so I'm still waiting to hear their softer more melodic side. The first two tracks can get pretty monotonous and even though the third one is in the same vein, it's much more of a banger.
Apothecary - 24.02.2014 at 23:13  
Written by SmokyPeat on 24.02.2014 at 20:43

Not bad so far. I haven't reached the midway point yet so I'm still waiting to hear their softer more melodic side. The first two tracks can get pretty monotonous and even though the third one is in the same vein, it's much more of a banger.

I'd say the second half of the album is definitely better than the first, which is really great if you think about it. I'd personally rather be listening to an album that peaks towards the end than one that does it at the very beginning and just loses energy from there. Overall a pretty decent album, check out my interview with Markus if you haven't already
SmokyPeat - 25.02.2014 at 21:05  
I'd rather have an album that is consistently good from start to finish As was said in your review, things do get more interesting in the second half. I think this has some potential to be a grower for me though.
Apothecary - 25.02.2014 at 21:27  
Written by SmokyPeat on 25.02.2014 at 21:05

I'd rather have an album that is consistently good from start to finish As was said in your review, things do get more interesting in the second half. I think this has some potential to be a grower for me though.

Me as well, I've gotten more into it with each subsequent listen, and the first half really isn't all that bad. Track 3 is a crusher, that's for sure. As you saw if you read my interview, Triptykon were a big inspiration on Markus to start this project, and even though Kuolemanlaakso sound nothing like them, I think you can kinda see where that dark, doomy influence comes from.
netZach - 25.06.2014 at 05:00  
"Glastonburyn Lehto" (Glastonbury Grove) is a Twin Peaks tribute. I cannot see where these "folk" comparisons come from as this is obviously a lounge jazz/Angelo Badalamenti-type of tune. All over the internet it is described as a "folk ballad" which, in my opinion, only showcases the reviewers' disregard for the band's artistic intentions. This is even mentioned in a few interviews with the band. The tune doesn't even sound the least bit folky at all. Well, this album is awesome.
!J.O.O.E.! - 25.06.2014 at 11:54  
Sounds more like some kind of Appalachian-ish folk than jazz to me.
Marcel Hubregtse - 25.06.2014 at 12:42  
If Glastonbury Lehto is meant as a tribute to Twin Peaks it really fails miserably.
!J.O.O.E.! - 25.06.2014 at 12:44  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 25.06.2014 at 12:42

If Glastonbury Lehto is meant as a tribute to Twin Peaks it really fails miserably.

Indeed. Bands' intentions = not always what it should be. Nothing disrespectful or disregarding about not seeing that if it sounds nothing like it.
Marcel Hubregtse - 25.06.2014 at 12:48  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 25.06.2014 at 12:44

Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 25.06.2014 at 12:42

If Glastonbury Lehto is meant as a tribute to Twin Peaks it really fails miserably.

Indeed. Bands' intentions = not always what it should be. Nothing disrespectful or disregarding about not seeing that if it sounds nothing like it.


I for one immensely enjoy Galstonbury Lehto and it is imo the stand out track of the album. If you want music that is lounge jazz and could be called a tribute to Twin Peaks try a band such as Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore or the track Dea Artio by Wolves In The Throne Room. WitTR has quite a few parts in their music which could be considered Twin Peaks tribute even though it isn't lounge jazz.
Apothecary - 25.06.2014 at 15:36  
Written by netZach on 25.06.2014 at 05:00

"Glastonburyn Lehto" (Glastonbury Grove) is a Twin Peaks tribute. I cannot see where these "folk" comparisons come from as this is obviously a lounge jazz/Angelo Badalamenti-type of tune. All over the internet it is described as a "folk ballad" which, in my opinion, only showcases the reviewers' disregard for the band's artistic intentions.

Dude, I heard what I heard and I wrote it down, it's simple as that. Suddenly I'm supposed to somehow magically know all the band members' intentions and artistic visions as I'm listening to the music? Please. Not to mention, I don't even know Twin Peaks, or Angelo Badalementi for that matter. So buzz off with that self righteous "oh my god, how could anybody miss this?" type of attitude.
Ilham - 25.06.2014 at 18:47  
The combo of cover/review made me listen to this. I feel that very Finnish touch you are talking about. You could call it an auditory hallucination, but I hear a little Ajattara in some parts, even if I know the style is completely different, but I'm sure it's not just because they both sing in their mother tongue. To be honest, if I didn't know what Glastonburyn Lehto was about, I'd ave gone with the same assumption as Apothecary.
Ilham - 25.06.2014 at 18:51  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 25.06.2014 at 12:48

If you want music that is lounge jazz and could be called a tribute to Twin Peaks try a band such as Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore

Well, I think they're maybe a bit too much on the dark side to sound like something made as a tribute to Twin Peaks, but it's beautiful and I second that recommendation.
Apothecary - 25.06.2014 at 19:01  
Written by Ilham on 25.06.2014 at 18:47

The combo of cover/review made me listen to this. I feel that very Finnish touch you are talking about.

Yep, especially in the fact that the lyrics are in Finnish, always love it when bands sing in their native tongues. Might wanna check out Oranssi Pazuzu for that too, if you haven't already.
Ilham - 25.06.2014 at 19:08  
Written by Apothecary on 25.06.2014 at 19:01

Yep, especially in the fact that the lyrics are in Finnish, always love it when bands sing in their native tongues. Might wanna check out Oranssi Pazuzu for that too, if you haven't already.

Same here. There's something about those harsh and sharp consonants and short vowels that go so well with... everything. Yes, I have I listened to Muukalainen Puhuu for the first time just two weeks ago I think. And I liked it.
Apothecary - 25.06.2014 at 19:19  
Written by Ilham on 25.06.2014 at 19:08

I have I listened to Muukalainen Puhuu for the first time just two weeks ago I think. And I liked it.

Cool beans, Kosmonument is their best though, in my opinion.

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