Review Summary: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
The day is long gone and the night is ahead of you, you light a cigarette and take a swig of your alcohol. Perhaps you're reminiscing of the times gone by and here you are...alone. All you’re left with is a dark room, a flickering light and silence; the medium between the music and your mind. Music evokes emotion, even the historic tyrants had a sense of music and its ability to emote. When an album creates emotion, the musicians have done one of their jobs; they’ve made you feel, whether they want to share their feelings or whether they want you to discover feelings you’ve never experienced. In particular, European extreme metal offers a more personal, philosophical experience; it’s all about the inner-self, who we are as people. It's the heart and soul that drives the music. Extreme metal bands use music as their canvas and they explore the wildest, peculiar, vulgar realities imaginable. Kuolemanlaakso have done exactly this with their hybrid debut, ‘Uljas Uusi Maailma'.
‘Uljas Uusi Maailma' is a mixture of Doom, Death and Black metal. It’s grand; both in size and musical scope. The band manages to compose an album that flows incredibly well, it’s remarkably consistent and while it isn’t going to pave the way for a new wave, it certainly shows that infusion is a legitimate option. Bands who have come and gone in the past (some who still remain), have tried to meld various genres together to create a melting pot, which, at times bubbles-over becoming either: Too much or too little. The middle ground is a path less trodden, however when its discovered it can lead to various wonders. Kuolemanlaakso find that middle ground and boldly mark their territory with an album that bruises, saddens and enchants aurally and mentally. Uljas Uusi Maailma is hard to describe, sure it’s a culmination of genres and it’s dismal, beautiful and extremely polished. But, it isn’t as easy to pigeonhole; due to the sheer scope of music the band embraces, chews, digests and regurgitates. Seething snarls, powerful gutturals, tormented shrieks, haunting vocal melodies and dramatic spoken word passages are among the vocal highlights. The entire vocal-work on the album is stellar, it's diverse and passionate. Instrumentally, slow drawn out guitar work, heavy, sludge-coated riffing are commonplace with short bursts of acoustic breaks scattered throughout the guitar work. Chaotic rhythms layered with some extravagant lead guitar work, dazzle and slip gracefully in and out of the songs like a snake hunting its prey. The Bass guitar also runs riot like a Bull in a China shop, delivering a thunderous tone, offering a well-rounded sound. Break-neck paced drumming to the more mournful marching band rhythms accentuates the pace of the album delivering control and finesse. When the drums' show a more 'balls-to-the-wall' sound, they juxtapose the guitar work, building instrumental climaxes. The percussive work is also exemplary, robust yet tasteful. Furthermore it has some of the best recorded/mixed drums I’ve heard in a long time. String sections and synthesised melodies ooze through verses and appear sporadically, creating a tense, foreboding atmosphere. The production enhances their sound completely, every little nuance is amplified and sounds 100x times bigger, making this a titan- from a production standpoint.
Uljas Uusi Maailma is a true Nordic journey at heart, delivering one of the best ‘hybrid’ albums for a long time. Emotional prowess, meaning and passion are key components to Kuolemanlaakso’s debut; it’s demonstrated in the instrumentation, over-all composition and cohesive atmosphere. Uljas Uusi Maailma is an album created by the hearts and souls of Kuolemanlaako, every last drop has been injected into this monolith.