“61°43’N17°07’E” is not only the first track on “The Gale”, the fourth release of COLDBOUND, it also marks the whereabouts of Sweden-based Finnish musician Pauli Souka. The coordinates lead me to a small town in the East coast of Sweden: Hudiksvall. Together with his move from Finland to Sweden, Pauli Souka changes the direction of his solo project by touching upon the realm of melodic death metal, even though in my opinion there is still a lot of links to the past of the project: black metal.
“61°43’ N 17° 07’ E” starts off with an atmospheric intro. A short conversation with Souka, confirms the location of the coordinates. A research that I conducted out of curiosity. Truthfully the grim atmosphere of the track already told me that probably those coordinates lead somewhere to the Nordics. I wasn’t really expecting them to point out a place in Hawaii. Apparently this is the first song that Pauli Souka wrote in Hudiksvall, which is why he decided to label the title with coordinates. I personally find this a really fun idea. But before I’ll start babbling on the choice of song titles, which by the way is one of the plus points on this album, let me get back on track.
The first song is basically a grim, atmospheric intro to “The Invocation”. In this intro it feels like Pauli Souka is trying to tell us a story. “The Invocation” gives a good indication of the album. The dark atmosphere that is created in the intro track remains throughout the whole album, there’s a certain heaviness that probably stems from the musician’s past experiences with black metal. The melodic side of the album provides us with great melody lines, that are often surprising and almost always captivating.
I got acquainted with Pauli Souka’s work with Winterthroned, by attending one of their shows. What immediately impressed me was his vocal style. He pushes this also forward in this album. One thing that comes to my mind straight is that I can’t believe this is all done by one person, which shows the impressive effort Pauli Souka threw in this album.
I instantly am thrown into the Finnish melodic death metal scene, Coldbound could definitely stand aside bands like Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum in the future, as this album reminds me a lot of that. The next song “Endurance Through Infinity” is a seven-minute long track, which from the first second by starting off with heavy riffs in combination with a nifty melodic guitar riff, keeping a steady pace. Until it slows down, this is where the vocals kick in. Within these three songs it’s already clear that Souka is a master in conveying atmosphere, which makes the whole album in-the-end feel more like one melancholic and brutal story. The slow part, picks up again with heavy riffs surrounding the formed atmosphere.
“My Solace” keeps up with this consistent trend of storytelling. For me it’s a first highlight. Especially when it comes to the vocal parts. While Pauli Souka is almost whispering in the verses, he has powerful and yet brutal growls in the chorus. There’s a harmony in this song that I can’t even put to words.
“The Gale” changes direction of the album, there’s twists in this song that keep the album interesting as you embark on a listening journey and forms thus a already a second highlight of the album. Together with the vocals everything just falls into place in this songs. In the background there is interesting keyboards and also guitar parts that keep the song fresh, they add a bit of magic to the unique atmosphere you get. For me “The Gale” stands out from the rest of the album. No surprise why the album was called after this song, am I right?
Even though the album keeps a certain consistency throughout all of the separate tracks, there’s also a lot of variety in the album. Proof of that is the slower and more intense “The Eminent Light” which also features a female vocalist: Paulina Medepona. As a bonus we even get an instrumental of “The Eminent Light”.
While the first half has really strong songs with a lot of highlights, the second half of the album is perhaps a bit weaker in that sense. The songs are consistent though, but after a perfect song such as “The Gale” it feels like nothing is able to top that sensation anymore. However, I don’t feel that any of these tracks are fillers and ending the album with a song like “Towards The Sweeping Skies” is also a necessity. It’s a bit of a slower song, but it builds up nicely. The 11 minutes you get represented are worth every minute. The end of the song shifts smoothly into an atmospheric soundscape that ties every knot together. It’s also nice that most likely if you would loop the album one soundscape will flow into the other with a consistency to tip your hat to.
Final thoughts? Well I have a few. To summarize I did mention that I can hardly believe this is a one man project. It’s very impressive. The whole album is very consistent. Very atmospheric. Even though it’s melodic death metal, I feel that Pauli Souka tapped into his experience from the black metal scene and even explored other fields such as doom metal. The little soundscapes that are present on the album are very impressive. Let’s be honest, production-wise this album isn’t exactly what you would call a masterpiece, lack of resources and self production are usually to blame. But that’s actually what brings this album to a next level. If you would have a high-end production with only perfection, it would really lesson the impact “The Gale” has. The grim atmosphere isn’t solely derived from the melodies, vocal parts and all but also from the production of the album. Which is quite an accomplishment.
“The Gale” shifts away from any previous work Coldbound has produced, but brings the project to a new level and hopefully Souka will continue in this direction. Heavy, often slow, but brutal riffs drive the album forward with interesting melody lines around it, impressive growls. If you like bands such as Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum, Wolfheart and other bands on this spectrum of the melodic death metal genre, you will definitely enjoy this album as well.
1. 61° 43′ N 17° 07 E
2. The Invocation
3. Endurance Through Infinity
4. The Eminent Light
5. The Gale
6. My Solace
7. Winters Unfold
8. Shades Of Myself
9. Towards The Weeping Skies