Doomthousandseventeen Three: Gravestone Gardens pt. 2
Today we get sad. We get sad fast.
KAUNIS KUOLEMATON – VAPAUS
…And there is no escape, no entrance,
yet we ourselves can change our compelsion into freedom
Kaunis Kuolematon first came to my attention a couple of years back with their self-titled, ’twas filled with monumental riffscapes, carved in pieces by rivers of melodeath and spotted with touches of miserable doom. Where self-beration and anguish reigned with an iron fist, yet depicted from an aerial view – it did not go without beauty. But it came at a time where it was trampled by more devastating doom albums, and more generous melodeath offerings. Now they have another shot with Vapaus, and I don’t see anyone stepping into their way this time. They’ve further diversified their manifest, spending a considerable amount of the record on the faster side, going through several quiet, contemplative sections. “Yksin” and “Sanat Jotka Jäivät Sanomatta” being mostly built upon these moments and the contrast against the harsh vocals.
Vocalist Olli Suvanto takes the most out of his lower and higher register and Mikko Heikkilä’s cleans break out here and there, often appearing soothing, but slathered in loss and sorrow. And not always at the most predictable times either, for example, in the penultimate track, “Arvet”, the somber moments are growled, and only when the floodgates are opened and the rage released do the cleans take over at the faster sections. Never being relegated to “just” hooks or choruses the use of cleans as an additional colour on Vapaus is exceptionally well arranged.
Heikkilä has a past in Black Sun Aeon, and though that was inevitably a project led by Tuomas Saukkonen, I can’t help but hear the similarities. Much of the melodic work over the faster parts is very much reminiscent of Blacklight Deliverance and the chord-based progression of “Hurskas” would not have been out of place on BSA’s fourth record, had there ever been one. But Kaunis Kuolematon’s sound remains their own, even when reminiscent of others – lingering doom over fizzy melodeath, the often-quiet-but-never-absent synths and hints of Omnium Gatherum’s joyful approach, mountains of misery and occasional forays into blackened territory are already quite a bunch of strings to kept together, but when you add “Eloton’s” female vocals, violin and radio-iskelmä singing, it’s a miracle the weave doesn’t unravel in front of the band’s (and my) eyes. Instead, Vapaus is more of the most refreshing, doomy records released in a good bunch of years. And one of the most expertly arranged.
THE CRAWLING – ANATOMY OF LOSS
I am the greatest lie, I have ever told.
We begin with something different today, and a whole bunch of familiar. Any band claiming to simultaneously be influenced by Bolt Thrower and My Dying Bride is bound to pique my interest. As is to be expected, The Crawling doesn’t really sound like either, nor do they sound like an amalgamation of the two – yet the comparison is apt, as long as it is The Dreadful Hours over Turn Loose The Swanzche. Opener, “An Immaculate Deception” features Fredrik Norman-esque leads over trodding rhythm work that’d fit right in on any slightly-melodic death metal record before briefly slowing down to MDB regions only to speed up once more for a brief tremolo closing. Yet the tempo never drops below zero, the band instead offering beefed up hooks and choruses instead of world-halting-misery. The decision was wise, as it keeps The Crawling from banking on any particular influence, and gives a sound that is more recognizably their own.
The first half of “Poison Orange” hits in the face with the slowest, most rueful doom the band has to offer, alongside “Catatonic”, and switches to the most BT-esque mid tempo chug-riffs for the second. While very much a working song, it begins to unravel the bands weakness. Riffs, not the quality, but the quantity of them. Each song is usually built on two, or three, riffs and while the two first songs pass easy, this begins to degrade the trio closing Anatomy of Loss – a minute off of each, or an additional riff here and there, would have worked wonders. Though, in same breath, each song features enough hooks to dig in for good, on the first try and at 46 minutes, Anatomy of Loss doesn’t drag as an album. What the band loses in tenderness, featuring no cleans, they make up by making bassist Stuart Rainey double frontman Andy Clarke up now and then, and as stated, never stooping to funereal paces and speeding up sooner than later.
The Crawling features just the right amount of originality on top of their obvious influences, and their power trio formation leaves plenty of room for the slithering bass that completely makes up for the lack of riffs when the guitar goes noodling, which is obviously a bonus for someone whose panties seem to autonomously descend to ankle level at the merest mentions of “bass”. I, for one, am very interested at where will these scene veterans be able to take their new band.