Dark The Suns, Suru Raivosi Sydämeni Pimeydessä (Inverse Records 2021)

Finnish melodic Death Metal band Dark The Suns release their fourth full-length album.

According to the Microsoft translator, the album title Suru Raivosi Sydämeni Pimeydessä is “grief raged in the darkness of my heart” in English. That is the perfect theme for the style of music Dark The Suns creates. The band started as a solo project by Mikko Ojala in 2003, evolving into a duo with Inka Tuomaala. After releasing three albums over the years, the band split up in 2013. The new album is their first music together as Dark The Suns since then.

There are ten songs in the set. The music is theatrical and emotive, cascading between quiet, lyrical moments and big metal explosions. You can get a sharp image in your head while listening, created by the fullness of the composition. For example, the opening track can be described as what we might expect if Danny Elfman wrote Death Metal music. Imagine Jack Skellington the Pumpkin King in a tight frontal shot marching up that crazy hill pumping his arms and moving with purpose in The Nightmare Before Christmas. “Spirit in the Dark” is the perfect music for it. Very theatrical, very full, and a complete vision.

There are symphonic elements throughout, and progressive ones as well. Even with this kind of complexity and attention to drama and presentation the metal music is always still there. The songs land at about radio length, tightly formed and design for impact. In this album you will find power and angst in the loud moments as well as the quiet ones. Recommended.

Suru Raivosi Sydämeni Pimeydessä is out now. You can buy it at Bandcamp and listen through the usual streaming outlets.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://darkthesuns.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/darkthesunsofficial

Label, https://www.inverse.fi/site/

Dark The Suns, Suru Raivosi Sydämeni Pimeydessä (Inverse Records 2021)

Obscure Fate, Raven’s Call (Inverse Records 2021)

Finland’s Obscure Fate raise the flag on their brand of heavy metal with Raven’s Call.

The band began as a solo project of guitarist Kaleva Kovalainen in 2008. Over time, the band as it is today began to take form. The other musicians are Tapio Härkönen (vocals), Jari Keränen, (drums), Joni Moisanen (guitar), and Antti Möttönen (bass).

The music is a broad-based heavy metal approach, setting up the song structure around catchy riffs, with punctuating elements stemming frequently from syncopation. There is often a guitar line in harmony with the lead vocal. Speaking of the vocals, Härkönen presents mostly clear singing with a gruff edge and an epic lilt. The compositions have a highly-produced fullness to them, and therefore have a radio feel, targeting wide appeal.

The EP has four songs, all in the digestible three-to-four minute range. They are all up-tempo with solid bases and dark fantasy / mythical themes. The straight-forward hard rock approach is enhanced by crisp lead breaks and singable lyrics – these elements are on brightest display with the title song. I imagine hearing this music on a summer night outside at a festival. That would be the way to go. Recommended.

Raven’s Call is out now. Bandcamp is an easy place to get it in the US, and it is available on a variety of other services as well.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://obscurefate.bandcamp.com/

Website, https://obscurefate.net/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ObscureFateBand

Obscure Fate, Raven’s Call (Inverse Records 2021)

Ulthima, Symphony of the Night (Inverse Records 2021)

The first full-length album from Ulthima was ten years in the making and now everyone can hear it.

The band was started in Mexico in 2010 by founders Antonio Valdés (bass) and Ricardo Escobar (guitar). They moved to Finland, the story goes, to pursue music in the environment where so many bands and musicians they admired were from. That is quite a commitment strategy. The originators are joined by Ville Nummisalo (drums), Jon Welti (guitars), Niko Sutinen (keys), and Tuomas Antila (vocals) for the new album.

The music is symphonic metal, really. This arena can contain a large variety of styles ranging from the epic to the operatic. Ulthima makes use of Death Metal ideas and sensibilities and employs keys to create a symphonic surrounding. This has the effect of making the music turn toward the prog side and the technical precision is there as well. Melodic Death Metal is the closest label if we need one for this music, I would say.

The album has nine tracks that have their origins throughout the ten year time span of the band. Listening to them, it is not at all obvious which ones are older and which ones newer as they all have a polished and compositionally mature sound. All the songs are up-tempo and theatrical in a very high-energy sense. I particularly liked “Eternity” and the title track for their creativeness and ingenuity as well as the sharp execution of the score by the band. If you are in a symphonic metal mood, this one is a winner. Recommended.

Symphony of the Night makes its full appearance on Friday, March 19th from Inverse Records. In the US, Bandcamp is the easy way to get the CD or download.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ulthima.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ulthima

Label, https://www.facebook.com/inverserecords

Ulthima, Symphony of the Night (Inverse Records 2021)

Wolfheart, Skull Soldiers (Napalm Records 2021)

Finland’s Wolfheart adds more Death Metal to the universe with two new songs and a couple of rarities on their EP Skull Soldiers.

The band has a long history of powerful metal creation and performance. Since 2013 they have released five full-length albums, the most recent being Wolves of Karelia (2020). Given this history, you have to expect and new long-player before very long, and this four track vehicle is just the thing to hold fans over until the bigger one arrives. The lineup for Skull Soldiers is Tuomas Saukkonen (vocals and guitar), Lauri Silvonen (bass and vocals), Joonas Kauppinen (drums), and Vagelis Karzis (guitar).

There are two new songs on the EP. “Skull Soldiers” has a driving, threatening beat and an eerie surrounding shroud, keeping its distance from the frantic activity while maintaining a menacing posture. The lead guitar foments an elegant and clinical execution. “Hereditary” continues the ideas established in the opener, turning them a bit more buoyant. The speed is cranked up and the lead break on this song is blistering mayhem.

“Aeon Of Cold” is an acoustic presentation of this popular track from Shadow World. It is beautiful and melancholy, conveying deep feeling and bringing out emotions from the listener – either sadness or melancholy or nostalgia, whatever you have inside you. The vocals are smooth and clear on this track, elevating the impact.

And then there is “Reaper” from the Wolves of Karelia album, captured live during a streaming event last year. The band absolutely crushes this one. It rips and roars and leaves you ragged. These four songs are a great item for fans of the band and an nice overview for newcomers to the fold. Recommended.

Skull Soldiers is out now. The download is still available, but the limited vinyl might have left this earthly plane already. Have a look at the Bandcamp link.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://wolfheart.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/WolfheartRealm

Store, https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/wolfheart

Wolfheart, Skull Soldiers (Napalm Records 2021)

Revulsion, Revulsion (Transcending Obscurity Records 2021)

It is winter in Finland but Revulsion is not hibernating – the self-titled full-length debut is a heavy metal bulldozer bearing down on your brain.

In 2010 Revulsion released a demo then an EP the year after that. Ten long years have passed while fans waited to see if there would be more music. The new album answers that question with a full-throated howl. The music is rooted in death metal with deep veins of doom running throughout, and the integrated elements are a propitious combination. The band is Aleksi Huhta (vocals), Jari Toppinen (guitar), Jarkko Viitasalo (guitar), Tuomas Alatalo (bass), and Atte Karppinen (drums).

The music begins in chaos – just a pummeling of noise you have to sort through. After a few seconds of that attack, the riffs emerge and the vocals become words in “Last Echoes Of Life.” The death metal hybrid continues to morph on “Pyre” which also bears a heavy riff and adds complex combinations in the rhythm and percussion. “Walls” is next, showing off a fat bass line, and then “Mustaa Hiiltä” lifts the lid on the cave of doom with oppressively threatening leaden tones.

There are eleven songs on the album and you can feel groove characteristics nudge you around as the undeniable momentum of the powerful musical energy is a constant exhilarating rush. The bass is more prominent here as a distinct being than in a lot of similar music, and that adds immeasurably to the unique voice of the band. The back half of the record has short blasts like “Wastelands” and “Pawns,” and it also showcases the longest track and closer, “Viimeinen Rituaali” – the final ritual, indeed, and a doom-laden volcano of roaring heavy metal. I am already jotting this one down on the best of list for the year. Killer. Highly recommended.

Revulsion is out now and, coincidentally, it is Bandcamp Friday today so if you buy Revulsion products at Bandcamp, the usual selling fee to the band is waived. The elegant varieties of Transcending Obscurity physical releases are the envy of the world, and the Revulsion album is no exception. Check out all the possibilities at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://revulsiondeath.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/RevulsionFin/

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://tometal.com/

Revulsion, Revulsion (Transcending Obscurity Records 2021)

Korpiklaani, Jylhä (Nuclear Blast Records 2021)

For almost twenty years, Korpiklaani has been a prominent driving force in the Folk Metal music world, and now they are releasing their eleventh full-length studio album, Jylhä.

It all started with Spirit of the Forest in 2003 and there has been a steady creative flow ever since. The band is from Finland and while there are folk fusion amalgams from many musical traditions all over the globe, there is something that makes this particular folk music the perfect building block for a heavy music combination. Or maybe it is just that the musicians in Korpiklaani are among the very best at what they do, which is certainly true as well. The band is Cane (guitar and vocals), Jonne Järvelä (vocals, guitars, multiple folk instruments), Jarkko Aaltonen (bass), Tuomas Rounakari (violin), Sami Perttula (accordion), and Samuli Mikkonen (drums).

The music begins big in guitars with “Verikoira,” laying down a catchy, quick rhythm for the more traditionally folk elements to surround. The accordion takes the lead on the second track, “Niemi,” at the gate, but the guitar is never far away. The blending of metal and traditional instruments and melody is, after all, the point. Each song has its own look and life, casting a vast array of colors and spells throughout the thirteen songs on the album.

The music on the album is very up-tempo and vibrant, and even on quieter pieces with less riffage (like “Leväluhta”) the metal does not completely disappear. There is always an elegant balance across the diversity of musical structure so that neither primary force is lost to the other. You want to hear this music for that balance, to get the rare elements that don’t typically exist in heavy music while maintaining the adrenaline and drive of metal. That is exactly what comes through in every track. Recommended.

You can pick up the CD and digital download of Jylhä on Friday February 5th. The vinyl versions are a little bit delayed because of the pandemic – they will be out in March.

Links.

Website, https://korpiklaani.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/korpiklaani

Nuclear Blast Records, https://www.nuclearblast.de/label/music/band/news/uebersicht/71067.korpiklaani.html

Korpiklaani, Jylhä (Nuclear Blast Records 2021)

John The Baptist, self-titled (2021)

From Jyväskylä, Finland, John The Baptist forge forth into the masses of heavy music listeners with their first full-length release.

The band has been around since 2015 and has released a demo, a split, and a single. This current self-titled effort is their biggest album so far, and it is loaded to the top edge with loud, heavy doom.

The musicians use stage names, and apart from Facebook do not have a large social media presence. That leaves us without an enormous amount of information to pass on. On their Facebook page, they say this: “Our music is slow and heavy like the rumblings of the earth. Our message is grand and grim.” OK, that does narrow it down some.

There are six massive tracks on the new album, and heavy they are indeed. The short one is nine minutes long, and the long one runs fifteen so there is a lot of listening to be had. The style is straight-forward doom, without any muddling. There is no pretension in the music and they seem to play what  they feel, offloading their interests in patient, thundering riffs. The first track, “Deluge,” is a perfect example. It opens with a solo guitar, laying down the fuzz in slow and deliberate sheets for a minute and a half before being joined with even more heaviness. The vocals are earnest and not distorted. There are tempo shifts and sonic variations; theme turns and compositional confluences and diversions are plentiful. Nevertheless, on every track, there is no mistaking the doom, culminating in the most comprehensive statement with the anchor piece, “John The Baptist.”

John The Baptist is available now on Bandcamp (link below). No word yet on whether there will be a CD or vinyl release, so don’t wait for that. Hear them now. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://jtbdoom.bandcamp.com/album/john-the-baptist

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/JtBhellmetal

Soundcloud, https://soundcloud.com/johnthebaptist-doom

John The Baptist, self-titled (2021)

Church of the Dead, Church of the Dead review (Stay Heavy Records 2020)

A few years ago, Church of the Dead was slinging EPs out left, right, and center. Now they are back with a new lead singer and a full-length album.

Operating out of Helsinki, Finland, Church of the Dead has enjoyed a respected place in the local heavy music scene. The band released five EPs between 2013 and 2015: Stay Out of My Grave (2013), Terror Tales (2013), Rave to the Grave (2013), Meet Me in the Tomb (2014), and Forever Dead (2015). Things were quiet for a while after that, until the 2019 single “Rat King” which had a reimagining of “Reanimating the Flesh of the Damned” on the B-side. With all this work and experience under their collective belt, it was clearly time for a full length album.

The musical style is a classic brand of Death Metal – think Celtic Frost with gruffer vocals and you are on the right path. Bolt Thrower is another style similarity. Church of the Dead has additional influences, stylistic nuances, and differences that set them well apart. The line-up now is the same as it has been all along except for the new singer: Jussi Salminen (vocals), Kride Lahti (guitar), Antti Poutanen (bass), and Tommi Makkonen-Viheriälehto (drums).

The music relies on riff and rhythm, and the lead guitar appearances are low key or play a harmony role. Stand-out tracks are “Coffincraft,” which made me nostalgic and wrapped me like a hoary cloak, “Nekrovulture,” because it creates a stout, roaring presence that absolutely rips, and “The Abyss” – the last one being the keystone that holds together the essence of the music in the set and acts like the banner a warring army waves on the battlefield as it advances.

Church of the Dead is out now. The quickest grab is Bandcamp. Most of the earlier EPs are available on Spotify and other streaming services if you want to give them a listen as well. The band’s entire canon is solid. Recommended.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/ChurchOfTheDead/

https://churchofthedead.bandcamp.com/album/church-of-the-dead

Church of the Dead, Church of the Dead review (Stay Heavy Records 2020)