From Finland we got this death metal act which formed in 2008 named Refusal. After a bunch of demo recordings with compilations to match they released their debut album in 2016 We Rot Within. The album was a solid one, the foundation was set for the band to stand on for further releases. Now with their follow-up album Epitome of Void in my hand it’s time to see if this will make them take another step in the right direction or not.
The first word that comes to my mind when I hear what Refusal offers is “consistency”. Sometimes consistency can be a bad thing, when an albums runtime is long it might mean it can become boring and the replay value of a “one-trick pony” in this case I mean the word in all its positive meaning. A big part of that is that the runtime of 32 minutes is just about hitting the sweet spot, while their take on death metal with hints of grind on the rotten cherry on the top hasn’t changed and it is a formula they are very happy driving forward with. I for one think this is a good move because as it gives them an edge for people who are tired of the same kind of old school death sound. I mean after a while your favorite pasta might get a bit boring you know? That’s where these guys comes in for me, they spice the pasta up a bit and hey now it’s almost like a brand new dish for me to devour.
The almost feral guitar riffs takes me back to the Entombed days on the opening track “Suffocate” (sometimes the album got a death n roll flair to it too, see “Disregard”), while on “Hectic” they showcase a bit more of that grindcore edge a la Napalm Death. If I had to pick the bands that’s closest to Refusal’s death metal it’s bands like Mörbid Vomit, Sadistik Forest (who dropped one of my favorite albums in 2018), Revolting, Galvanizer and even Skulmagot that comes closest to mind. This is the sound you’re going to hear during Epitome of Void, so if you don’t get hooked on it from the first few tracks then I don’t know what to do. As I mentioned before though this is their forte, consistency with their style that’s maybe not unique but it’s not done 100 times by new bands each year so it still feels fresh. That’s also the reason why I had a hard time picking my favorite song. Doesn’t matter if I pick “Suffocate, “Disregard”, “Slaves” or any other track because they are all great and got their own riff here or drum part going for them that I like. Production wise I think Epitome of Void does exactly what it’s intended to, it feels raw, got a lot of energy and the instruments and vocals are well mixed.
Epitome of Void has been an album I’ve gone back to quite a few times since it’s release in January, that in itself is proof that the album has a lot to offer. It’s one of the best death metal albums released in 2019 so far and a perfect example how you can do the old school sound justice while mixing it up a notch.
Written by J.B.
Label: Great Dane Records For fans of: Mörbid Vomit and Galvanizer Release date: January 11th, 2019 Favorite song: Disregard Score: 4/5 Incredible
Hailing from Finland Medeia were formed back in 2002 and have since then kept most of their lineup intact while releasing two EP’s and four full-length albums with Xenosis being the fifth, coming six years after their last full-length Iconoclastic. They label their music alternative death metal, which in reality means I hear melodic death metal, deathcore and metalcore fused together. Think something along the lines of Threat Signal, Hatesphere and newer Whitechapel joining forces and you get a rough idea on what Medeia is all about.
Labeling aside I get good vibes from what Media offers. Sure it is in many ways a blast from the past and the early 00’s with all that has in store, but it’s fun to listen to (most of the time). There is a lot of energy here, technical riffs that gets you hook line and sinker and a deadly vocal performance by their vocalist Frans Aalto who has taken another step since the bands last EP. Add some great songwriting in the mix then you got an album with a lot of variation and depth that’s easy to get back to for another spin. Sure I could personally skip a few of the slower songs like “Ascension” all together as that’s not my thing but at the same time it adds another dimension to Xenosis you can not ignore.
Xenosis will definitely get a lot of fans on its raw energy alone and even though their style doesn’t win me over completely I am confident it will with many. I might sound a bit harsh on my review but personal taste obviously differs, with that being said I do enjoy Xenosis for what it is. They got something going on here that’s for sure.
Written by J.B.
Label: Playground Music Finland For fans of: (new) Whitechapel and Threat Signal Release date: January 18th, 2019 Favorite song: I’m tbe Abyss Score: 3/5 Good
A band that’s been very hardworking and released albums in a quick session is Finnish Owler. Since their formation in 2015 they’ve released one EP and counting Embers two full-length albums, not bad at all. I personally had not listened to the band before, only heard of their existence (as a half-Fin I kinda need to know the scene as well as I possibly can) so I had no idea what I was in for.
Starting with the albums titletrack I instantly get a sensation this is classic Finnish metal. Think Wolfheart (especially the harsh vocals), or even better Before the Dawn (the clean singing) as sort of a melodeath meets post-metal kind of way. Great start as I love this stuff when I’m in the mood for it! As the album continues it gets darker, more doom and slower paced were the bands true influences Ghost Brigade and Swallow the Sun gets known. The track Unsung shows perfectly well how Owler can keep all these different elements in check, as to not create chaos but instead beautiful harmonies. Between each song is an instrumental interlude, acting as a fine link throughout the album and it does its work fine.
There is actually only one thing that doesn’t speak to me one bit on this album, and that’s the closing sing Sing. It stands out sure, but not in a good way. I would have loved it if they stuck to the theme they had going on the other tracks and not go almost all clean singing, piano and well too much post-rock and not enough metal for my taste. Not a bad song in its own rights but it doesn’t feel like it belongs to Embers. Either way Embers was a nice listen with its close to 30 minutes runtime and acted as a great tastebreaker for me personally as I’ve heard a lot (and I mean a lot) slam/brutal death metal these past months. Fans of the Finnish school of doom and post-metal will have a good time with Embers.
Written by J.B.
Label: Independent For fans of: Ghost Brigade and Swallow the Sun Release date: March 8th, 2018 Favorite song: Unsung Score: 3/5 Good
The Metal Gamer is in its 3rd year now and I’ve been thinking a lot what’s been missing. One thing was starting to review games, to give the name more justice but in the metal side of things there was one more thing missing, interviews! So here we are with the first interview and it’s a big one! I reviewed Iihtallan only days ago and gave it a raving 4/5 (read and listen to the album here) and with the bands long history I thought it was only fitting I get the chance to grab a couple of guys from the band and ask them some questions on the past, present and future.
Festerday has an interesting history with being one of the first death metal bands in Finland but never released a full-length album to then change name several times and even playing in many different genres. Give us some light on why all of the changes happened and the history of the band.
Timo: This is quite common misinterpretation that we have just changed name all the time… All the bands have been totally different bands. Some of them just minor projects or whatever… Festerday was the first ‘real’ band. That time was the prime time of Death Metal worldwide. Death metal kind of saturated and faded away (for me at least) after ’92… that was one reason we started to look the other way. Then came And Oceans. A few guys from Festerday, but also others… totally different music and story. Havoc Unit was a continuation of AO in a way, but again totally different band with a few different members. With that we did one record and that’s it. Now 2013 Festerday was put together again and we started where we left off in 1993… and has nothing to do with the bands in between… The fact is that we have resurrected And Oceans also. So that is also implying that these are different bands, haha…
Kena: All these bands have also been projects with mainly 1-2 demo releases. The main “real” bands were Festerday, And Oceans, Havoc Unit and Magenta Harvest…maybe we should notify Metal Archives about these misleading names…
You’re named after a Carcass song but are there other bands that inspired you guys to create Festerday back in 89?
Timo: Carcass, Napalm Death, Morbid Angel etc.
Kena: Pretty much all the old grind and DM bands from the 80’s: Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, Dismember etc.
After so many years playing as …and Oceans and Havoc Unit, what made you go back to Festerday?
Timo: It was real nice to go back to those old school riffs and feelings of pure death metal. It was nice to make some riffs not based on technicality or high performance or anything like that… just groovy riffs. Of course things tend to go in cycles… maybe it was time for that again…
Kena: After flirting with all kinds of electronic and industrial elements, I think it was time to hit back to where it all started, to get that full circle completed.
The core of the band has been together since the very start in 1989. How has the years playing all kinds of music together shaped how Festerday sounds in 2019?
Timo: The basic sound is always old school death metal with Festerday. Maybe playing different styles give us the possibility to mix a bit easier influences from other genres if needed. We are not afraid to put some flavors of different styles to our music like we can hear on Iihtallan, but the overall sound still remains in death metal. Of course playing and the ability to makes songs have approved a lot. The sense how to make good songs. Good songs based on good riffs which is the most important thing in my opinion at least.
On Iihtallan are there any songs that you have been brewing since you first buried the band in 93?
Timo: Not any whole songs, but there is at least one riff or almost similar found in ‘Into the Void’.
You guys have been around for a long time. How do you think the metal scene in Finland has evolved during the years?
Timo: Back in the old days when most of the people in the ‘scene’ were teenagers gigs were held in youth houses etc. Bands on the bill were death metal and punk etc. There were not so many people in the ‘scene’ so you knew practically everyone. But even if not so many people involved the more vivid it was back then. Everything was new and exciting and you had to work for finding new bands etc. After ’92 or ’93 almost all death metal bands started to play different kind of music. I can’t say any band right away that remained old school death metal if they continued making music. Then came black metal quite hard. That changed also after 2000. About ten years it was a bit strange time music wise. All kinds of strange bands and genres… Like Havoc Unit etc. haha… Today we have so many great old school death metal bands and black metal bands. Of course the thing is like with every music style… we have too many bands now… it’s really difficult to stand out.
Kena: Finland still has a strong death metal scene with all these new younger bands. Many of the OSDM bands are also still around, and when adding all these new to the old ones, the scene is full and that makes it difficult to stand out, just like Timo said.
From what I can find Festerday haven’t played live outside of Finland. With the new album out is it finally time to spread the death all over Europe?
Timo:We played in Ahvenanmaa/Åland… isn’t that outside Finland? It belongs to Sweden, no? seriously no we didn’t play abroad… maybe because we were so young and it was a bit different case to fix any gigs outside Finland. Of course with this new album things will change, no doubt about it… We are just getting things rolling… So gig/festival organizers please activate!
If you could choose, what bands would you go on a tour with?
Timo: When Dismember reform, we are ready, haha… There are so many great bands, but it could some of those old school death metal bands that have been around late 80’s and early 90’s. It could also some new band no problem with that either…
What does the future hold for Festerday? Do we have to wait 30 years for another full-length (I hope not haha) or is it full-throttle from now on?
Timo: No way, haha… I would be way over 70 by then… We have already new riffs ready and keep on making them.. we are not in a hurry though… let’s see what we can do with this ‘Iihtallan’. So hope to get some great gigs and festivals and let’s see after that…
To close the interview there is one more question to ask. Is there anyone in Festerday that’s a gamer, if there is got any favorite game?
Timo: I can’t say that I’m a gamer, but we have seven different game consoles back home, haha… I play mostly with PS4 games like Assassin’s Creed, some war games etc. At this time my time is really limited since I have to do new music for my different bands, practicing new set lists for coming gigs etc.
Kena: I used to play FPS games a lot earlier. Wolfenstein, MOA, Half-Life, Call of Duty….arrrgh just soooo brilliant. I remember that I played all nights and slept like two hours before work. Sometimes I had to call in as sick leave because I just wanted to continue playing, haha. Nowadays I really don’t have time for games, well, Angry Birds 2 is the only game I play every now and then when I sit and wait for something.
Thanks for your time, is there anything you would like to add?
Timo: If you want to hear and see us or any death metal band, support it by going to gigs, buy official merch!
Kena: Thanks for the interview and keep up the good work. A shame that you can’t send back my stamps these days anymore 😀
Curse Upon A Prayer is for me one of the most underrated black metal acts from Finland, a well kept secret you might say. Since the 2014 debut From the Lands of Demise this Finnish band has shocked many with their songwriting and in many ways been the embodiment of black metal with it’s anti-religion messages. Reason why it seems to shock so many is due to the anti-Islam lyrics, which to me is no different than other anti-religion themes that often occur in black metal. It does seem that both their videos on YouTube (involving the Quran) and shows get cancelled or taken down due to “not meeting the values”, which in my opinion is bullshit. Enough of that though, I just wanted to share some of the bands lyrical theme and background.
So what about the music? Well if you like black metal in the veins of Marduk, 1349 and Gorgoroth then you will feel right at home. It’s aggressive, got blast beats, hate for religion and haunting vocals to top it with. The three songs this EP offers captures the essence of what Curse Upon A Prayer is all about with “Thou Shale Be Cursed” being a highlight not only on the album but the band itself. The atmospheric flair that song offers is exactly the territory I want the band to play around with. While this only offers 16 minutes of playtime it’s a great opportunity to dig into a great underground black metal band, get to know Curse Upon A Prayer then dig into the rest of the discography as the band deserves it. The Three Woes might not turn around any non black metal fans over but it is a short but sweet black metal release that will please any fan of the genre.
Written by J.B.
Label: Saturnal Records For fans of: Marduk and Gorgoroth Release date: June 21st, 2018 Favorite song: Thou Shalt Be Cursed Score: 3.5/5 Very good
Finland, a land of a thousand lakes but also a land that many says have a bit of a melancholic feel to it. It’s dark, gloom environments and weather can do that to a person. Kuilu knows this all too well and their black metal can only be described as melancholic black metal at it’s finest. If I didn’t know any better I would have had a hard time telling this is a debut album because this seems to be the work from seasoned musicians. Formed in 2010 Kuilu have certainly bided their time and honed their craft to create a well written debut that I’ve revisited many times by now. At first I wasn’t in the right state as I was expecting more furious and heavy hitting black metal in the veins of Sargeist or Baptism. While Monumentti wasn’t that at all I came back to it only weeks later, had a new mindset, and found the doom elements, dark and melancholic tones along with the fitting vocals to be nothing but great. Think more Wayfarer and Uada type of black metal and you’re way closer than your “typical” Finnish black metal acts.
This is an atmospheric album that pulls you in if you let it. It might take a few listens but I’ve come to really enjoy Monumentti and as it is right now it stands as one of my favorite black metal albums released this year. Hopelessness, a melodic and melancholic void that’s really sweet music to the ears if you’re in the right mindset. The guitar work especially is something I need to highlight. It’s really captivating and one of the main reasons I enjoy spinning this album from time to time. Kuilu showcase a style of black metal I find very fitting for a Finnish band and they definitely go straight to the higher tiers within this realm of black for me alongside previously mentioned bands Wayfarer and Uada. Question is of course if they can do an equally good or even better album next time around (something for example Uada in my opinion failed to do). One of the best debut albums this year that challenging the listener and worth revisiting many times. Hopefully it doesn’t take eight years for a new full-length but word on the street is they are working hard on their second album already! From now on I will also include the Spotify links in my reviews if I can as sometimes I review an album before it’s out or it’s not on Spotify.
Label: Deviant Records
For fans of: Wayfarer and Uada
Release date: May 5th, 2018
Favorite song: Sisyfos
Mors Subita have been around for awhile. Being one of Finland’s prime melodic death metal bands who is probably often overlooked in the shadows of Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum and the likes. The creator Mika Lammassaari is one of many guitar Gods from the country of thousand lakes as he is also features in Eternal Tears of Sorrow and Wolfheart. Into the Pitch Black is the bands third full-length since the formation in 1999.
Let me be honest and saying I wasn’t too keen on this album. Sure it has its moments with “I, God” and “Into the Pitch Black” having some killer riffs that keeps the aggressive modern melodic death metal spirit going. “As Humanity Weeps” brings me back to the days I listened to Threat Signal which was actually kinda fun as I’d almost forgot about that band. Overall though I find the album lacking in some key areas like songwriting, it’s a tad too repetitive and boring which loses my attention in the end. Which might just be me having grown out of this type of melodeath as I used to devour this kind of music ten years ago. Heard this many times before but done better in all honesty. I can’t help to think with an lineup consisting of members from Eternal Tears of Sorrow, Wolfheart and Thyrane this could be so much better.
I am sure many melodeath fans will have a good time with Into the Pitch Black and fans of Mors Subita gets more of the same music they’ve done in the past. Personally this isn’t really up my alley though and it feels a few years too late to be on my radar. It does leave me with a couple of good songs and mixed feelings once I’ve done my journey into the pitch black. A decent album that I feel could be better but one that a younger me might have appreciated a lot more. Sometimes it just doesn’t click like you’d hoped.
Label: Inverse Records
For fans of: Threat Signal and Deals Death
Release date: April 6th, 2018
Favorite song: I, God