I’ve had NOITUMA‘s latest studio effort, “Tervahautu,” released on 25 February 2020, on repeat lately and I figured I might as well share my thoughts with you, dear reader. NOITUMA is a Finnish folk metal outfit that has been around since 2014 and this is their second full-length album. “Tervahautu” has pagan written all over it, with a variety of hauntingly beautiful tracks that have many layers for the listener to unravel.
Every song on “Tervahautu” is a little masterpiece. That might be a bold statement, but if you go ahead and piece apart every track, you will find that they are all standalone arrangements with their own particular accents and features to enjoy. Take “Isle of Ravens” and “Hirttopuu” as contrasting examples. The first is a more guitar-oriented rock track, while the latter sports an entirely different, more melodic style. No formula songwriting here to make style statements, but a lot of musical twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat.
The vocals match this variety very well, revolving around the spectrum of guttural growls and high-pitched screams to suit every track. When clean, the singing is dark and emotional, soothing you into deep thoughts. Vocalist Vesa Tuomi deserves praise for his range and ability to put so much sensitivy into both kinds of vocals, creating haunting and mournful vocal artistry. Another very emotionally moving feature are the violins, enhancing every track with their versatile presence, whether very dominant or more in the background. Especially on “Isle of Ravens,” the violins are an important part of what drives the song, creating a very particular atmosphere, unique to NOITUMA.
Fans seem to have mixed feelings about “Vainajan tarina,” which turned out to be my favorite song on “Tervahautu.” Comments often state that this track is too different from the others, breaking the record’s spell, albeit momentarily. I for one couldn’t disagree more, because – in my humble opinion – the feel of this song is the purest one yet. The sheer softness of the violins, combined with spoken voice as romantic poetry from another time, embody the style of this album like no other.
The overarching concept of this album is one that really speaks to you if you let it. I have to be honest and admit that if you don’t understand Finnish, a lot of the beautiful narratives will go to waste if you don’t want to make an effort to find translations. The stories being told in the lyrics are a huge part of what elevates “Tervahautu” to an entirely different listening experience. To give you a sample:
Haudassa liekit perkeleen roihuaa
“In the grave the flames of the devil roar”
Valaisten yön pimeyttä
“They light up the darkness of the night”
Keskisessä maailmassa maan ja taivaan välillä
“In the world in between the earth and sky”
In conclusion, NOITUMA’s “Tervahautu” is a layered journey from start to finish, worth relistening to let your mind go down the many paths the band has created for us. A pagan aesthetic for warm bonfires accompanied by rays of moonlight and the occasional hoot of an owl, this album tells intriguing stories that will keep you awake ’til dawn’s first light.
- Ruttoisten hautausmaa
- Majakan neito
- Isle of Ravens
- Vainajan tarina
- Merestä noussut
Vesa – Vocals, Jaw Harp
Antti – Guitar
Petri – Guitar
Onni – Bass
Jonas – Drums
Krista – Violin, flute