Living in such an often unforgiving environment, with extremely cold temperatures and often fragmentary nocturnal cycles, it’s no wonder a lot of the music produced in Finland is soaked in despair, melancholy and delirium. It should come as no surprise then, that their debut album; “Ikuisen Talven Sarastus” essentially means ‘At The Dawn Of Winter Eternal’…but are they resigning themselves to an existence in icy isolation? Let’s find out…
The eight-track mini-album opens up with “Kaamos Warriors” itself and I guess it’s like a declaration of intent if you will…the foreboding intro of the sinister guitar tone leads into an eruption of blast-beats and unrelenting percussion, accompanying the evil snarls of vocalist Mikko. There’s an uncomfortable, unholy aura to the track, reinforced by the chilling monastic vocal chanting, almost ritualistic over the cold, blackened metal; a decent start this. We follow this up with “Talventuoja” which I’m honestly struggling to translate…it’s message roughly means (And I mean this as an interpretation) the reaper is the bringer of Winter; for the cold solitude of endless nights is comparable to death itself; dark and void, and musically the slower tempo, owing much to the sound of say, SATYRICON for example, allows the song to impose a sense of dread and seriousness upon the listener, though the guitar solo and abrupt ending spoil the vibe of the track ever so slightly.
Thankfully there are a handful of English titles here too, making life a little bit easier for me truthfully, with the first of which being “Winter Eternal”. Another gradual build here, blending their brand of blackened death with subtle battle metal aesthetics, coming across as more of a march than a full track if you will; it’s quite regimented and linear and honestly it’s about as flat as you’ll find this type of metal. The other English tracks comprise of “Immortals” and “Secrets Of Stars”…the former delivering an interesting blend of acoustic guitar and harmonious, choir-esque vocals underlying the sonic intensity, while the latter offers a more up-tempo, pacier slab of melodic metal, providing a late album highlight. It’s full of groove and rhythm and it’s, dare I say it, catchy…? Before we then round things off with the title track itself; returning to their cold, brooding visceral misery.
Let’s not beat around the snow covered bush here…the Nordic / Baltic region for blackened death metal bands is like a cave in the Kanto region for the mighty Zubat, walk just a couple of steps in any direction and you’ll have one screeching in your face. This doesn’t necessarily mean the genre is completely over-saturated however…for a band practically just a year old, this is a really promising debut. At just over twenty minutes it’s a short album, but that makes this an easy, accessible listen for such a niche underground genre. Warriors…raise your pork swords, winter is coming.