Metal Review: Kuolemanlaakso – Uljas Uusi Maailma (2012)

Kuolemanlaakso - Uljas Uusi Maailma (2012)With a November 23 release date, the debut album from Finnish band Kuolemanlaakso will hit the shelves via Svart Records. Kuolemanlaakso is a band featuring members of Chaosweaver, Swallow the Sun and Barren Earth, so you know that the music will be heavy. Until listening to the release though, I had no idea how good it would be.

Named after one of the lowest, driest and hottest places on Earth, Kuolemanlaakso (”Death Valley”) took its first breath in the Spring of 2010. The band originally started out as a one-man project of guitarist Laakso (Chaosweaver). Much influenced by ”Eparistera Daimones” of Triptykon, Laakso’s mission was to create an utterly dark and heavy album, full of catchy hooks and originality: a tragically beautiful world all its own.

It was clear from the start that the lyrics would be recited in Finnish. They were inspired by Eino Leino’s (1878–1926) poem collection ”Helkavirsiä,” the mystique of the Finnish forests, and the morbidity of the modern world.

Uljas Uusi Maailma, translated to Brave New World is one of those releases that sneak up on you and clobber you with a 2 x 4. I was not sure what I was getting myself into with this one. The opening track, Minä Elän, comes at you innocently enough with clean guitars and spoken word. In the background, you are teased with something coming on, and then about a minute into Minä Elän, you are hit with some serious guitar work. The guitar tone is crushing and the raspy vocals are a perfect match. The rhythm section behind the verses are just about as powerful as the riff to open the song as well. With a mix of semi-hypnotic tones to downright evil, Minä Elän is one of the best songs that I have heard all year.

The next track, Kuun Lapset, is doom-infused madness with some heavy riffs alongside some hypnotic chants throughout the background of the verses. The evil never lets us as it the picture keeps getting gloomier with each passing minute of this track. Keep an ear open for the incredible bass sound on this track as well.

Nostos & Algos just keeps the ball rolling with more doom riffs and amazing vocal work. As with most songs on this release, the songs are all about the riffs and Nostos & Algos is just another example of that. The album takes a little break and then comes back with Ikiuni, which is downright excellent. Infused with thrash elements and riffs, Ikiuni turns out to be one of the strongest somgs on the album, but not the strongest, because that title will be left to the title track, Uljas Uusi Maailma. The song is nearly seven minutes of glory and evil and wrapped into one.

Uljas Uusi Maailma Track Listing:
01. Minä Elän (“I Live”)
02. Kuun Lapset (“Children Of The Moon”)
03. Nostos & Algos
04. Roihusydän (“Blaze Heart”)
05. Etsin (“Searching”)
06. Ikiuni (“The Eternal Sleep”)
07. Uljas Uusi Maailma (“Brave New World”)
08. Aurinko (“The Sun”)

Kuolemanlaakso Line-up:
Kotamäki (Swallow The Sun, Barren Earth) – Vocals
Laakso (Chaosweaver) – Guitar, Keyboards
Kouta (Chaosweaver, ex-Verjnuarmu) – Guitar
Usva (Elenium, The Nibiruan) – Bass
Tiera (Discard, Cult of Endtime) – Drums

Uljas Uusi Maailma:
1. Minä elän (”I live”)
2. Kuun lapset (”Children of the Moon”)
3. Nostos & Algos
4. Roihusydän (”Blaze Heart”)
5. Etsin (”Searching”)
6. Ikiuni (”The Eternal Sleep”)
7. Uljas uusi maailma (”Brave New World”)
8. Aurinko (”The Sun”)

Uljas Uusi Maailma was co-produced, engineered, mixed, and mastered by V. Santura (Triptykon, Dark Fortress) at Woodshed Studio, Furth, Germany.