Trio Debutantes: Black Metal Finland
Nothing fancy. Nothing skewed. Nothing you didn’t expect by reading that title over there. Just three bands bringing a cold breeze to your hellishly hot summer.
FORLOR – TOWARDS THE END
I first ran into Forlor through their split with White Death from a few years back, but from what I gather they’ve been steadily building momentum ever since the release of War & Perdition demo. Towards The End leaves little question as to why, their chosen niche within black metal hardly being filled with capable aspirants. 40 minutes of raw, pallid and largely mid-tempo black metal. That’s not the most appealing description is it? Yet Towards The End is very much worth your while. Raw but not entirely without dynamics or brickwalled into the void, the heavy bass presence makes all the difference for the atmosphere, as strictly as it may follow the rhythm. Several of the songs are shaken up with a short melodic riff, usually Towards The End (excuse the pun) making them that much more memorable and giving them a hook without becoming any more “accessible”. “Nocturnal Winter Sky” “The Flames of Glory” and “Cemetery Path” mark and divide the album into sections and offer reprieve from the constant toil without the use of throwaway interludes – each of the three is heavily laden with keyboards for further melody and texture
Forlor’s given their debut LP just enough variety to keep it constantly interesting, while remaining in the simple, mostly un-embellished region of black metal that I’ve felt strongly drawn towards lately. But that final push elevating Towards The End from a great record to one for the ages, is missing. The riffs and the melodies are very similar at every turn and if it wasn’t for the occasional reliance on keys to separate the songs from each other, the whole record would easily blur into one mass. While asking for more variety from an album stylistically so cornered is a bit off, Forlor proves their capability in delivering it, ironically only leaving a greater need of it.
3,5 / 5 FLAMING TOILETS OV HELL
UHRILAHJA – EN FÖRDÄRVAD VÄRLD
A young trio from Tampere. having released their first demo just last year and already Wolfspell Records is releasing their full-length debut. Name in Finnish, title in Swedish and lyrics in three languages, in order to “achieve maximum self-expression of hate toward this wretched world that has lost it’s connection to our roots and heritage”. Great albums have been made with lesser premises, and terrible albums with better ones.
Musically En Fördärvad Värld reeks of yore. Driven by brightly melodic riffing a’la Windir, though steering clear of the very particular style of guitar melodies affiliated with sognametal, speckled with infrequent and offbeat spoken word sections and crowned with raw, demo-like and by modern standards, terrible sound. In other words, everything a bear could ask for. The sound is especially flattering of Uhrilahja’s chosen style. Riffs come and go slanted, in a constant state of chaos pronounced further by the snarling bass steadily coiling with the thin guitars. “Rite of the Coiling Dragon” (NOTE: That title may be the single best description of the record.) stays exalting by commanding attention towards what lies beneath the riffs.
Uhrilahja are an ambitious and capable trio whose axe only hits the rock during “Sorgen Stjärnä” an ambient interlude that proves not everyone is capable of making Dungeon Synth. Yet their skill in songcraft does not match the ambition. Apart from the aforementioned, only “Flesh Hook Rituals” and “Knivens Törst” offer anything with a more permanent impression. It is with a painfilled heart that I leave one of the most interesting, up-and-coming black metal bands with so few toilets lit alight, but they desperately need stronger building blocks.
2 / 5 FLAMING TOILETS OV HELL
MORKETIDA – PANPHAGE MYSTICISM
Of the three bands featured here, I am least familiar with Mørketida. Everything they had to their name prior, is a rehearsal demo from six years back, followed by silence. Silence to be broken on august 17th. Panphage Mysticism is not the most obviously Finnish black metal record you’ll be hearing this year – although it is a raw affair, and not devoid of melody, far does it circle the cold fury of it’s countless associates. Even further away it is from the malignant, bestial performance of Beherit’s ilk, but it’s thick, desolate atmosphere, lo-fi advances and downtempo grimness seems more indebted to the latter.
Although the record is noisy and filled with scrapes, the guitars are raw, beset by distant organs – there’s surprising finesse to the record, attention to detail that could be lost on the less mindful. The aforementioned organs add a lot of small nuances to the experience, but are used to take the front in the manner of Lychgate. Rather the finesse manifests as “Serpent’s Grail’s” harmonius tremolo riffs and the title tracks bass leads. There’s more to the record than my short time with it has allowed me to uncover, and even though it is no easy listening, I have become convinced of it’s potential and quality.
4/5 FLAMING TOILETS OV HELL