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Kuolemanlaakso - "Tulijoutsen" (CD)

Kuolemanlaakso - "Tulijoutsen" CD cover image

"Tulijoutsen" track listing:

1. Aarnivalkea (7:30)
2. Verihaaksi (9:03)
3. Me vaellamme yössä (6:13)
4. Arpeni (7:45)
5. Musta (7:22)
6. Glastonburyn lehto (5:23)
7. Tuonen tähtivyö (8:10)
8. Raadot raunioilla (6:06)

Reviewed by on February 14, 2014

"...apparently the lads starting taking their lithium, because this second full-length album is entirely coherent and features a much more unified sound."

If you read my reviews of the previous two Kuolemanlaakso releases (or had the pleasure of hearing them directly!) you’ll know that this Finnish outfit has been about as schizophrenic as a metal band can get, swinging back and forth wildly between a dozen or so styles. Apparently the lads starting taking their lithium, because this second full-length album is entirely coherent and features a much more unified sound.

Despite the tempering of aural insanity, “Tulijoutsen” doesn’t actually give up the experimental nature of the band’s previous offerings, it just offers up a more streamlined version. The focus this time around is more strongly on the “doom” tag the band gets hit with, as much of the album is slower moving and somewhat sludgy in nature. The primary hoarse and guttural vocals work strongly with this sound, but there’s also a fair amount of variation with chanted cleans and other styles popping up.

While sticking more closely to the Finnish death/doom sound on this outing, Kuolemanlaakso still stays true to its previous sound by throwing in a few curveballs. “Glastonburyn Lehto,” for instance, consists of funky bass lines and snapping fingers with clean vocals. Although going in a different direction, the overall atmosphere still remains within the boundaries defined by the rest of the album and the song fits well in the run time. Seventh track “Tuonen Tähtivyö” also brings in backing female vocals used much differently than what is typically heard in extreme metal releases. This second full-length from the band does feature a few cuts off the previous EP, such as “Me Vaellamme Yössä,” but the returning songs have been modified and extended, making them distinct entities from their original forms.

If you liked the direction of the previous albums, this will be another winner. But if you thought the band would sound better sticking to a single genre then there is even more incentive to pick this one up, as it sees the band more refined and focused than before.

Highs: The band tempers its sound for a more refined and focused experience

Lows: With eight and nine minute tracks that are slower moving, it may be hard for all metal heads to maintain interest in every song

Bottom line: Kuolemanlaakso keeps its experimental nature but tempers the sound for a more focused and satisfying death/doom experience.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)