"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Kuolemanlaakso - "Uljas uusi maailma" (CD)

Kuolemanlaakso - "Uljas uusi maailma" CD cover image

"Uljas uusi maailma" track listing:

1. Minä elän (5:58)
2. Kuun lapset (6:14)
3. Nostos & Algos (7:08)
4. Roihusydän (1:43)
5. Etsin (7:51)
6. Ikiuni (3:54)
7. Uljas uusi maailma (6:42)
8. Aurinko (7:30)

Reviewed by on December 27, 2012

"This project provides a very different musical outlet than the metal standards, ending up working in an eclectic way somewhat similar to Barren Earth or Chaosweaver (and unsurprisingly featuring members of those bands)."

A new entry in the pantheon of the Finnish metal gods, the utterly unpronounceable Kuolemanlaakso pays homage to the dominant styles from that region of the world, but also goes in about a dozen other directions during its debut album. The familiar Finnish death/doom sound is definitely there, but there’s about equal doses of melodic and symphonic black metal, and even doom. This project provides a very different musical outlet than the metal standards, ending up working in an eclectic way somewhat similar to Barren Earth or Chaosweaver (and unsurprisingly featuring members of those bands).

Essentially, every song has a differing style or influence that is most prevalent, and each track features a different hook to draw in the listener. “Kuun Lapset,” for instance, takes the slower doom elements and expands on them much further than the more energetic opening track. “Nostos & Algos” has eastern-sounding acoustic guitar strumming in the beginning, a sludgy thrash attitude through the middle, and then big booming cello sounds at the end. “Roihusydän” breaks into a bizarre interlude featuring tribal drumming, while “Etsin” shifts gears into a symphonic horror theme.

While the bulk of the vocals are a black metal style growl, there’s also deep, chanted clean singing to play off the extreme aspects. Many of the tracks include sections with symphonic aspects working in the background, but they are kept in contained segments rather than being completely pervasive. Calling the album “symphonic black metal” would definitely be a stretch, but there are plenty of interesting keyboard additions to the music. The clean singing focus and Gothic feel of ending track “Aurinko” creates a smooth cap to the whole experience, and when the death metal vocals do eventually show up, there is an intensely strong Swallow the Sun vibe.

The huge range of styles just described might make “Uljas Uusi Maailma” seem like an overwhelming listen (or maybe even a complete mess musically), but the musicianship is incredibly strong and the song structure itself is high quality. Most of the tracks are individually awesome and a genuine blast to listen to, although there’s really not much of anything in the way of a unifying thread throughout the album. Either way, this is one to look out for if you dig symphonic extreme metal, death/doom, or anything that experiments and tries new things.

Highs: Members of Barren Earth and Chaosweaver do what they do best - blend in just about every style of metal.

Lows: There's nothing particularly unifying any one track to any other track.

Bottom line: This impressive debut album mixes together Finnish death/doom, symphonic black metal, gothic clean singing, and more.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)