There is a certain something in many doom-death metal Finnish bands’ trademark sound that strongly represents the melancholic feelings stereotypically associated with Finland: a peculiar way to deal with loneliness, coldness, and darkness, both as metaphors and as key components of the Finns’ approach toward life in general. KAUNIS KUOLEMATON, a five-piece band founded in Hamina in 2012, summarizes this attitude at its best on the album ”Syttyköön Toinen Aurinko,” the third full length in the band’s career, out on 27 November 2020 via the Finnish record label Noble Demon.
The opening track, ”Sub Idem Tempus,” immediately shows the atmospheric features of the album, thanks to its soft elements and a spoken-word part, which also gives a dramatic vibe to the whole thing. The second track is also the title track, characterized by intense growl vocals and a dominant symphonic attitude, which is one of the staples of this full length, in contrast with several more aggressive aspects. A good balance between these two features is to be considered as a leitmotif in ”Syttyköön Toinen Aurinko.”
A massive riff opens the next piece and an alternation between otherwordly deep growls, high-pitched screams, and clean vocals (the latter performed by the guitarist), creates the environment of ”Hautajaiset,” Finnish for ”funeral,” which is probably one of the best tunes in this album due to its catchy melody and huge pathos, where the music fits perfectly into the lyrics and vice-versa. The multilayered structure also reveals some kind of a prog vibe, which is present in other songs as well.
Track number four, ”Mustavalkoinen,” in spite of its title, which means “black and white,” shows a further level of complexity without sacrificing the catchiness of the melodies, undoubtedly one of the most evident traits of KAUNIS KUOLEMATON’s trademark sound. A mixture of elegance and intensity reaches its peak at the end of the song, leading to the next one, ”Kylmä Maa,” which has been released as a single in September. The track shows how profound the message of the band can be: loneliness is the key to see beauty and longing for death is the ultimate source of serenity and peace of mind, in a bittersweet blend of superb scream vocals (frontman Olli Suvanto proves to be nothing less than one of the best black metal vocalist ever), fast-paced drums, and more melodic elements such as the piano outro, that make ”Kylmä Maa” a great example of the band’s ability in ”shaping” melancholy and putting it into music.
The following track is ”Kuolevan Surun Alla,” which is reminiscent of some ANATHEMA‘s production from the mid ’90s. The role of the bass is noticeable and gives a further level of drama. Alternating clean vocals and growls, colourful drumwork, and an unexpected acoustic outro all suggest that the band is, at the same time, empowering their trademark sound and moving away from their comfort zone.
”Paha Ihminen,” originally released as a single in 2019, sees guitarist Mikko Heikkilä again on clean vocals, in some sort of a question-and-answer session with the singer, who fights back and delivers some high-pitched screams. The song is really catchy as well, thanks to some symphonic features in the chorus that make the whole tune very fresh. Penultimate ”Särkynyt” has a dramatic grandiosity in its pace with some classic doomish vibes, which immediately made me think of SWALLOW THE SUN, in a more symphonic-oriented perspective.
As a further proof of KAUNIS KUOLEMATON’s versatility, the song named ”Hyvästi” in the band’s mother language (“goodbye”), works as a perfect closer for an album that will certainly be embedded in the memory of anyone who’s into melodic doom metal, with a focus on a Finnish approach in the lyrical themes, as much as the overall mood.
Written by Licia Mapelli
- Sub Idem Tempus
- Syttyköön Toinen Aurinko
- Kylmä Maa
- Kuolevan Surun Alla
- Paha Ihminen
Olli Suvanto – vocals
Mikko Heikkilä – guitar, clean vocals
Ville Mussalo – guitar
Jarno Uski – bass
Miika Hostikka – drums