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Kuolemanlaakso - Tulijoutsen (2014)
As they say, life will find its way. Named after one of the lowest, dryest and hottest places on Earth, Kuolemanlaakso (?Death Valley?) took its first breath in the Spring of 2010. The band originally started out as a one man project of guitarist Laakso (Chaosweaver).
Inspired by ?Eparistera Daimones? of Triptykon, Laakso?s mission was to create an utterly dark and heavy album, full of catchy hooks and originality. A tragically beautiful world of its own.
It was clear from the start that the lyrics would be recited in Finnish. They were inspired by Eino Leino?s (1878?1926) poem collection ?Helkavirsi?,? the mystique of the Finnish forests and of the morbidity of the modern world.
The feedback from an unreleased 4-song demo recording was so overwhelmingly positive from fellow musicians, that Laakso decided to recruit some of them, and make Kuolemanlaakso a fully operating 5-head outfit. And not just anybody, but some of his favourite bandsmen: vocalist Kotam?ki (Swallow the Sun, Barren Earth), guitarist Kouta (Chaosweaver, ex-Verjnuarmu), bassist Usva (Elenium, The Nibiruan) and drummer Tiera (Discard, Cult of Endtime).
Markus "Max Power" Laakso - Guitar, Keyboard
Mikko "Goat Tormentor" Kotam?ki - Vocals
Albert "Kouta" von Fleischer - Guitars
Tuomo "Usva" R?is?nen - Bass
Toni "Tiera" Ronkainen - Drums
Review taken metalstorm.net
Quote: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 T?htivy?" ), 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.
1. Aarnivalkea 07:30
2. Verihaaksi 09:03
3. Me vaellamme y?ss? 06:13
4. Arpeni 07:45
5. Musta 07:22
6. Glastonburyn lehto 05:23
7. Tuonen t?htivy? 08:10