KYPCK (pronounced as “kursk”) is a Finnish doom metal band founded in 2007, named after a town in Russia, mostly known for a tank battle that occurred in 1943 during the Second World War, in which over one million people lost their lives. The concept is based on the Soviet era, the lyrics are in Russian (the singer, Erkki Seppänen, speaks fluent Russian and used to work as a teacher), and even the instruments played by Sami Lopakka and J.T. Ylä-Rautio, respectively guitarist and bassist, are pretty unique: Lopakka‘s guitar is built around a kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, and Ylä-Rautio’s bass has only one string. It is worth mentioning that Lopakka used to play in the iconic Finnish band SENTENCED. “Ниже” – pronounced as “Nizhe” and translated as “Lower” – is the band’s second full length, released on February 9th, 2011 via the label Yellow House.
The album has ten original songs: the opening is an instrumental track called “Гифарус” (“Gifarus”), that immediately introduces the listener to a war-like atmosphere. The second track shows a heavy approach from the very beginning, with more than 7 minutes of anguish, where the slow pace provided by drummer K.H.M. Hiilesmaa and the spoken-word, along with the variety of the pattern, make “После” (“After”) a true hymn to despondency.
The following song, “Аллея Сталина,” which title can be translated as “The Alley of Stalin,” shows a more rock-oriented and melodramatic approach that closely resembles SENTENCED’s latest works, in terms of its catchy refrain and a well-balanced mixture of solemnity and sadness to the whole structure.
“Чужой” (“Stranger”) is the fourth song and, also due to its duration (this is the longest track on the album), it feels a bit more complex compared to the previous ones. It consists of over 9 minutes of a dramatic and gloomy atmosphere, where the lead guitar sound seems to tell a story along with the voice of the singer: “I’m a stranger to the world, I’m nothing, known to no one. Who the hell needs this lowly Icaros burned by the stars?” It sounds even more dramatic and intense in Russian, while the final part of the lyrics is taken from a poem by the Russian Romantic poet and novelist M. Y. Lermontov.
The fifth track, “Фелица,” is an ode to Catherine the Great and has a certain ballad-like vibe, even though the massive doomish features of the song make it utterly heavy, especially in the riffing and the drum work.
“Разрыв,” translated as “Rupture,” is strongly influenced by funeral doom in terms of slow pace and solemnity of the vocals. A pervasive sense of desperation takes over during the whole song and the aggressive sound of the one-string bass gives a nice balance. The drum work is excellent, in particular in the final part of the track, making it one of the highlights on the album.
The following song, “Бурлаки на Волге,” translated as “Burlaks on the Volga,” tells about this professional figure, often horribly exploited, who had to drag the boats on the shores of the Volga river. The job was incredibly exhausting and made life unbearable, a feeling masterfully displayed through the heaviness of music and words: “again no sleep from the pain in my back…”
“Бардак,” which stands for “Brothel,” emphasizes the features of the voice of the singer, particularly harsh and expressive on this track. The song has a strong rockish vibe that makes it quite different compared to the rest of the album. “Товарищам,” or “Comrades,” shows several changes in the rhythm and a remarkable guitar work, while the vocals are, as usual, passionate and fierce.
The last song on “Ниже” is “Вальс смерт,” translated as “Death Waltz:” an instrumental track dedicated to the guitarist of SENTENCED, Miika Tenkula, who passed away in 2009. It leaves the listener suspended in disbelief, as much as the untimely death of a friend could do. The album in its entirety nicely summarizes the uniqueness of KYPCK as a band, which is, in my opinion, one of the best acts of the late 2000s in terms of originality and high-quality standards.
Written by Licia Mapelli
- Гифарус (Gifarus)
- После (After)
- Аллея Сталина (The Alley of Stalin)
- Чужой (Stranger)
- Фелица (Felitsa)
- Разрыв (Rupture)
- Бурлаки на Волге (Burlaks on the Volga)
- Бардак (Brothel)
- Товарищам (Comrades)
- Вальс смерти (Death Waltz)
E. Seppänen – vocals
S.S. Lopakka – guitars
J.T. Ylä-Rautio – bass
K.H.M. Hiilesmaa – drums
Yellow House Records