Released: 2013, Svart Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Hot new talent in the rich Scandinavian extreme metal tradition, KUOLEMANLAASKO have followed up their Svart Records debut "Uljas uusi maailma" with this four track EP release. The result of another collaboration with producer/engineer V. Santura (also a prolific guitarist), "Musta aurinko nousee" promises an introduction to the band's current style in a more straightforward manner than the "epic" music which will make up the next full album.
The opening of 'Me vaellamme yössä (edit)' is actually quite epic itself. Evocative of the high ambiance which Finnish metal artists have uncanny knack for, the guitar work in particular is magnificent. Some well-placed keyboard notes embellish the atmosphere, and when the deep, gravelly vocals kick in I at times cannot help but be reminded of Till Lindemann. The heavy rhythm juxtaposed with prominent clean guitar notes and sometimes growled lyrics make for an exciting opener, and the shift in tone and tempo towards the end is quite spectacular.
'Tulenväki' opens with guitars which, save for the tone, remind me of the kind of riffs Tony Iommi was laying down in the "Master of Reality" album. The vocals in this one are starkly different to the preceding track. Here Kotamäki is more high pitched, a little bit more Black Metal than Death Metal. He does return to the deep and throaty style at certain points, but on the whole I really preferred the way he sang on the opening track. Around three minutes in the music takes on a dark, carnival style tone, but only for a moment. Towards the end things get darker as lamenting choral vocals combine with harmonic keyboard tones. Not a bad track though I feel that maybe there was too much going on here.
'Kalmoskooppi' opens like an old horror movie. Sounds akin to howling across a distant moor are soon overpowered by Tiera's drums, and the band dive into the most fast-paced music on the EP so far. The chugging rhythm is emphasized by double bass drum work, and growled vocals duel with high pitched wails. There are anthemic qualities too, chanted cries show the potential for crowd participation, and a long piece of prominent bass against gradually slowing cymbal strikes make me imagine a large forest of hands clapping along. Completing the ethereal feel are piano notes played across the end section, another contrast in the varied scope of sound these guys bring to the table.
The final track is a cover of Juice Leskinen's 'Musta aurinko nousee'. There is yet more vocal variety here, the lyrics are sung in a deep yet clear tone that again has me in mind of Rammstein. The music is ethereal; in the first couple of minutes there are fewer notes than on the preceding tracks but they are heavily emphasized. Things pick up in the middle, and the bass is always prominent. It has that same Sabbath feel as 'Tulenväki', especially through the use of a clean guitar solo. This song is actually quite epic; a long and layered end to the EP, and a good track to go out on.
While being described by the band as a collection of more straight-forward music then other material which they have been writing I do feel at times like there is still a lot of experimentation going on. In 'Tulenväki' especially I felt like too many different things were happening for the music to genuinely flourish. Having said that, these guys know how to create atmosphere, and the production is absolutely crisp. I will say this too, if this is straight forward and short, then the supposedly more epic tracks to come are going to be truly astounding.
Review by Michael Dodd