Title: Ilman Kuolemaa
Label: I, Voidhanger Records
Release date: 21 August 2020
Format reviewed: High-quality Digital Recording
The enigmatic Finnish black metal project Verikyyneleet (blood tears) could be one of the country’s best kept black metal secrets. The one-man project was given life in 1999 and over the past 21 years has released two demos and an EP, however September 2020 will finally see the unleashing of a full-length album “Ilman Kuolemaa”. The creative mind behind the project is Isla Valve who assumes all duties in the band, from the vocals, to the mastery of all the instruments, and he even provides his own designs for the album covers.
“Ilman Kuolemaa” contains fifteen tracks that were recorded over a six year period, between 2014-2019. The album is a unique collection of raw black metal with a strong old school feel that at times is juxtaposed by also delivering experimental elements and an air of avant-garde. The album provides all the essential components that I personally look for in a solid underground black metal release: the production is rough and raw, the riffs cut deep, the vocals are guttural and woe-inducing, while the melodies are epic and deeply moving.
The pace varies throughout the album and also within songs, which creates frantic and elegant moods as seen in the title track “Ilman Kuolemaa”. Tracks such as “Ei Todellista Voimaa…” and “The Great Scream in Nature” utilise mid to slow pace injections to build dark, rich, melancholic atmospheres which, when paired with the well-placed synth breaks, feel as bleak as a frigid nuclear winter. Unfortunately, at times the drums are a little lost in the mix and feel veiled or muted. This is evident throughout track eight “Yhta Luonnon Kanssa”.
The song lengths differ wildly across the album and run anywhere from one minute to over eleven minutes, and this is because the album is punctuated by regular interludes. These evenly spaced breaks come in the form of five short ambient tracks (tracks 1, 4, 7, 10, and 13) which are each titled using a single letter “T”,”I”, “E”, “T”, and “O” respectively. My basic skill in the Finnish language tells me that this spells out the word for data or information, but I have no clue of the true intended meaning or the significance of this cryptic artefact, nevertheless it’s intriguing.
In order to have more than just a superficial experience with this album I needed to dig deeper. So with the help of online resources and my own reference material I was able to translate some of the lyrics to get an idea of the main themes running through the album. After much effort I was able to determine that the subject matter primarily focuses on heavy themes such as mortality, existence, nature, spirituality and pain.
For me, “Ilman Kuolemaa” feels authentic, wild, untamed and intensely exciting, and with this album Verikyyneleet has succeeded in creating coarse, organic and aesthetically majestic black metal. 8/10 Proua Metallist
8/10 To Greatness and Glory!
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