Reviewed: February 2017
Released: 2017, Inverse Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
After a ten year hiatus, Mustan Kuun Lapset have returned with their fourth full length album. After putting the band ‘to rest’ in 2007 the band released a compilation album (14 Tavea) in 2011 and more recently (last year) they brought out an EP with a new track which shared the title of the EP, ‘Kuolemanvirta’. The Finnish quartet have changed some members since 2007’s ‘Viiemeinen Laulu Kuolemasta’ with long term guitarist Pete Tamminen, who left in 2007, being replaced by Heikki Piiparo as well as Kai Hanninen making way for Ville Pekonen to take the reigns of bass duties. The album may have comes as a surprise to those ardent followers of Mustan Kuun Lapset, it looked like their ‘indefinite hiatus’ would be just that, indefinite. Now we have nine tracks full of dark, emotive soundscapes crafted by very creative and, for better words, patient musicians who have reinvigorated the slowly deteriorating corpse of yesteryear.
The introduction feels almost like a film score with some very atmospheric synth work as ‘Ja Toinen Yötä Rakastaa’ paves the way for the true opening of the album when ‘Peikonmieli’ gives us our first sample of Mustan Kuun Lampset’s darker side. The song is quite an enigmatic one. We get a diverse alliance of varying musical and metal influences. We are greeted with the harsh vocals Pete Lehtinen that wails over the fairly classical heavy metal riffs which also, at points, has rapid bursts of double kicks by long term servant and drummer of the band Mikko Hautala. There is not too much beef behind the many layers of instrumentation, albeit the backing death growls try to instill a little more force behind the music. This is a common feature of the album. There’s no real moments of truly obliterating heavy music but we do get treated to some interesting compositions. It’s hard not to like the synth work on songs such as ‘Amor Vincit Omnia’ which is reminiscent of Morbid Angel’s dramatic ‘Doomsday Celebration’.
‘Cilice’ serves as the best example of power that the band has. It in itself is very expansive and is rich in diversity but we get some excellent riffs which are joined by those harsh blackened vocals to create an impressive balad. The proceeding track ‘Sudenilma’ opens strongly again and is very riff driven to provide an anthemic track to the album. Although the guitar tone and vocals are very prominent in the mix, the drums just lack that impact that usually accompanies such technique. Stylistically they are heavy and we get more than a fair share of blasts but there is only a soft clack rather than a skull crushing barrage which detracts from their intended purpose. Plenty of positives throughout though as the lead work is poignant and really elevates the songs to exorbitant reaches especially if we take the beautifully worked ascension in the third track of this album which was as also the title track of 2016’s ‘Kuolemanvirta’ EP.
The album provides further sustenance as we veer towards the end of the album. The two parter ‘Valkoinen Satama’ with the first section ‘Haaksi’ maintaining a forceful edge and staggers into the realms of the Stockholm sound with plenty of melody being dominated by death growls. Again we get some impressive musicianship from the band with some highly pronounced and defined lead work which drives the song. The second part changes the dynamic entirely as we get a softly constructed, acoustically based track which welcomes some clean female vocals to the mix. Soulful in its embrace, ‘Tyven’ sets the album for a unexpected finish as we finish with the title track for the album.
At nearly nine minutes in length ‘Saatto’ can be seen as a fitting end to the album. It incorporates many of the stand out features of the album but also provides another demonstration of the band’s diverse musicality. With ‘Saato’ we get all the preceding touches that illuminate the album but we also get other elements thrown in for good measure such as a display of clean vocals from Pete Lehtinen. Again we get a fine performance with the lead work as the wah is used to accentuate the crescendo at the big climax. All in all there’s not too many thrills but the music is full of feel, atmosphere and emotion which eclipses any fundamental need for a brutal edge which is just not in this band’s genetic mainframe. Ten years is a long time so it’s open for debate to see how far this reformation will last. With Pete and Mikko’s ties to Septemberwolf long dead they have more time to focus on Mustan Kuun Lapset and really rally the cause. They have a dedicated following in their native Finland but the world is still at their feet.
REVIEW BY PETE MUTANT
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