Kaunis Kuolematon – Vapaus (Melodic Doom/Death Metal)

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Ending my days with pure Finnish music we slow it down a notch and go for a doom twist in Finlands melodic death metal heaven. Kaunis Kuolematon is Finnish for “Beautiful Immortal” and in many ways I think this shows in their music. Singing purely in Finnish it’s a band that doesn’t get much attention outside Finland but here is me hoping that is soon to change. Vapaus is Kaunis Kuolematon’s second release after their 2014 debut Kylmä kaunis maailma received quite a bit of praise for being one of the better death/doom debuts these past years. Being compared to Swallow the Sun in the process, which proves these rockers got a lot of talent. Vapaus hopefully continues that road and elevates the bands sound even more.

Eloton is a sweet introduction to Kaunis Kuolematon where the harsh and clean vocals works in great symphony and this is the type of death/doom combination I’ve come to love from the Nordic countries. Hurskas continue that right up until 2:20 in where it takes a turn and all of a sudden becomes a beautiful acoustic medley building up for fantastic guitar plays and riffs. Yksin is, in my humble opinion, the song that gets to me the most. It’s a beautiful ballad with lyrics that saddens you but also gives you hope, it’s simply stunning. What’s more is that the song smoothly transition to Tuhottu elämä which initially ups the tempo and brings you more of that headbang worthy riffing. The way Kaunis Kuolematon changes the tempo during the album really does makes me think of Swallow the Sun, one of the best death/doom bands out there. Ikuinen ikävä is the heaviest song on Vapaus and if it wasn’t for Yksin being one of the best songs I’ve heard all year it would be my favorite song on the album. It definitely got the best instrumental elements in my ears. Ikaros is yet another good slow paced song but it’s the next two tracks that grabs my attention the most. Arvet, one more track with very powerful lyrics along with great music, quickly becoming another favorite of mine. Sanat jotka jäivär sanomatta ends the album in a great way, a magnificent ballad where the use of clean and harsh vocals really shines. Ending this sad journey of war, life and death with memories of your loved ones being there forever.

Last year I had October Tide’s Winged Waltz as my favorite doom album release. This year I can sense Vapus grabbing that spot. Kaunis Kuolematon uses a formula that works and melodic doom/death doesn’t get much better than this in my opinion. Vapaus is out now through Haminian Sounds. Knowing Finnish or not I still suggest you get it!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KaunisKuolematon
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/pahankasvot
For fans of: Swallow the Sun and Barren Earth
Favorite song: Yksin

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Damnation Plan – Reality Illusion (Melodic Death Metal)

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Continuing my Finnish journey and looking for new releases from upcoming bands we next have Damnation Plan. For some this might not be a new act as the band was actually formed back in 2004. Featuring members from MyGrain and Wintersun they are not a band to take lightly though. Their debut didn’t show its light until 2013 with The Wakening (fitting name since they took their time), an album that received a lot of praise. To follow the groundwork laid down by their debut the band has worked hard for four years to release an even better album in Reality Illusion. Now the question is, have Damnation Plan taken a step further or not?

The intro and Beyond These Walls works as a good introduction to the album, greeting its listeners with a flurry of riffs, great combination of harsh and clean vocals which gives you that classic Gothenburg melodic death metal feeling a la Soilwork, Scar Symmetry or Disarmonia Mundi. Tommy Tuovinen (ex-MyGrain) and Asim Searah (Wintersun) stands out throughout this whole album. This is a duo that can pull of a wide range of vocals together and it makes Damnation Plan have an edge on some other upcoming acts. Coming into Rise of the Messenger their teamwork is extra notable and it’s a great example on what they can pull off together. Add to the fact that Antti Lauri, Jarkko Lunnas, Kalle Niininen and Jukka Vehkamaa does some great musical performances then you got yourself a band truly on the rise. On Blinded Faith I think the band really comes into sync with both the song, riffs and melodies making it quickly becomes one of my favorite songs on the album. The Empowerment works as a great intermission and purely instrumental track that showcase the talent within the band.

Second half of the album starts with Maze of Despair, the albums ballad and where Asim Searah shines extra bright (might be because of his past as a singer in power metal band Kiuas). It’s almost like coming to the second act of a play, when listening to it I get Edguy vibes from that song. Interesting song choice on the album actually, might feel out of place to some but I thought it was a cool touch that makes you see Damnation Plan from another side. To be fair there are some power metal elements here and there so I am not that surprised with a ballad of that caliber. Next song Iron Curtain Falls is back to the melodic death metal sound with some sweet added synth to it that then turns into the best solo on the album at 3:40. Reality Illusion, The Final Destination and Don’t Talk to Strangers (another song where I get a lot of power metal vibes from) finishes off the album on a high note. All three being of quite high quality, keeps on giving great riffs, sweet sounding vocals and headbanging material. With The Final Destination being by far the longest song on the album, clocking in at 8:26, it features just about a barrage of everything. That being said it isn’t actually my favorite song (still great though) it’s instead a tie between Blinded Faith and Iron Curtain Falls. The two songs where I think Damnation Plan shows their full potential.

I enjoyed this album, it’s better than their debut and Damnation Plan really feels like a band that can become a new big melodeath export from Finland. Their melodic death metal sound sticks out from most out there, especially with the power metal elements and ballads that are smoothly inserted into the mix. Reality Illusion is out now from Inverse Records!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/damnationplan
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DamnationPlan
For fans of: MyGrain and Soilwork
Favorite song: Blinded Faith

Drearyym – Precursions (Melodic Death Metal)

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I’ve reviewed some of the more seasoned bands from Finland so far with Noumena, Mors Principium Est and Wolfheart already granting us sweet melodic death metal releases. Now it’s time to go tapping into the talent pool of new and upcoming acts starting with Drearyym. Drearyym were formed in 2014 and has since then already been able to produce two EP’s and the full-length debut I am about to review Precursions. Precursions features the two songs from the bands second EP Precursions Part I as well as four new tracks. It’s actually quite astonishing that Drearyym are still alive and kicking after the rocky road the band has had with members coming and going during these three years, having had an especially hard time to find a stable drummer in the lineup. Not many bands that find the motivation to keep on going when the start hasn’t been what you might have thought it would be.

To start off these 45 minutes of Nordic tales and great wars is the 3 minute intro Draugr March. It works as a soft introduction to the album that fills it’s role with fantasy like sounding music that tells of the battles that are to come. It’s with In Obsidian we really hear what Drearyym are all about. The growling technique Leevi Kuunila does and battle-fuelled melodic death metal music you hear is influenced by the type of music you’ve heard the Finnish bands Brymir, Turisas and Frosttide perform. Bands I enjoy listening to so that isn’t a bad thing. 1.50 into In Obsidian the song takes a rather interesting turn, carnival music starts playing and it’s actually a smooth transition that doesn’t feel forced in and eventually fades out. A cool touch in my opinion. Nine Divines acoustic intro is a beautiful start that later turns into a brutal symphonic warzone just to five minutes in get some nice piano music together with a sweet guitar solo. These elements makes this song my favorite ones on the album and shows some of the bands diverse style in epic melodic death metal.

Hunter’sTale and Old Barn are also good songs and once Precursions is over I am feeling quite satisfied with Drearyym’s debut. It may not be perfect but for a debut from a band that’s already had some lineup struggles this is solid. Precursions is out now as an independent digital release.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Drearyym
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Drearyym1
For fans of: Frosttide and Brymir
Favorite song: Nine Divines

Wolfheart – Tyhjyys (Melodic Death Metal)

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Next up in my melodic death metal spree from Finland we have Wolfheart. A band that features one of my favorite musicians Tuomas Saukkonen due to his work with Before the Dawn, one of the greatest melodic death metal bands to come out from Finland in my opinion. Wolfheart were formed in 2013 as a solo project by Toumas (just like his other bands began) but in 2014 he decided to disband all his other bands in order to fully focus on Wolfheart. I may have labeled Noumena, Mors Principium Est and now Wolfheart with the melodic death metal genre but they all sound very different. Wolfheart is definitely the more brutal sounding of the trio with it’s fast blast beats, Tuomas harsh growling style and overall more heavy sound. Calling it winter metal it’s no surprise it is heavy and brutal, while keeping it melodic and even featuring soothing flute play on The Flood, Wolfheart are great at capturing the essence of winter with it’s melancholy harsh style.

If you’ve heard Tuomas Saukkonen work before then you can know what to expect. It’s high quality music with a lot of catchy melodies to it. Shores of the Lake Simpele is a nice three minute intro, building up the atmosphere for Boneyard, the first single that came out from the album and in my opinion the high point of Tyhjyys. The orchestrations and acoustic passages that are common elements in an Wolfheart album are better than ever and it really helps setting the tone for this cold winter release. That or the beautiful tunes on The Flood, that’s both dark and sad but yet gorgeous. The lyrics are dark, from what I’ve read it’s partially due to Tuomas personal struggles over the years which makes sense, I think the more you can relate to the music you write the better you can show those emotions on the songs.

As a fan of Tuomas Saukkonen’s work I knew I would like this release. I think this is one of his best creations as of yet with Wolfheart and it’s a solid melodic death metal album. It might not be as good as some of his work with Before the Dawn and Black Sun Aeon, but that’s insanly hard to top. Finland is having a superb 2017 already getting some pretty great albums out. Fans of the darker side of melodeath will love Tyhjyys. It’s Tuomas putting out one of his best releases in years with the atmosphere of winter metal being colder than ever before. Every single song is good by themself and they showcase quite different aspects of both nature and battles.

Tyhjyys is out now through the legendary Finnish label Spinefarm Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WolfheartRealm
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/WolfheartFIN
For fans of: Insomnium and Before the Dawn
Favorite song: Boneyard

Noumena – Myrrys (Melodic Death Metal)

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When thinking of melodic death metal from Finland I would guess bands such as Amorphis, Insomnium and Children of Bodom are the first ones that comes into your mind. However there is a band that was formed 1998, celebrating 20 years as a band this year, that I think a lot of people miss out on called Noumena. Having not had a single member leaving the lineup since the formation 20 years ago is quite rare and I respect that a lot from them. In 2009 Suvi Uura joined as a vocalist to add a female touch to the music which was first heard on their latest album Death Walks with Me. The album title “Myrrys” (old Finnish) refers to ruckus, tumult or uproar. Which is the emotions Noumena will give the listeners through melancholic Finnish mollie tunes, just like you love it from the Finnish melodeath scene.

What makes Myrrys stick out from the rest of Noumena’s discography is the use of Finnish throughout the album, this is the first time they do that. Reason for not using English on this album is due to the albums lyrical theme, including Finnish nature and cultural heritage, and intimate stories which required the use of Finnish to be expressed the way the band wanted it to. Every single member of Noumena has contributed to the songwriting as well, even the cover art is made by a Finnish artist by the name of Otto Lehtonen. Safe to say this made in Finland all the way through.

If you’re a fan of Finnish melodeath then you will love this. That melancholic feeling, sweet melodic riffs, tempo changes at just the right moments, Suvi’s clean vocals to add more depth to the album (I get Myrkur vibes listening to her) and Antti Haapanen’s growling together in a sweet package will make any melodeath fan happy. Sanansaattaja and Murhehuone are the perfect way to demonstrate the more melancholic side of Noumena where I think Suvi really shines, while tracks like Roihu and Metsän viha will hype you up with the fast riffs and overall tempo of the songs, bringing the more classical Noumena sound. The last two songs on the album is a great display of epic duets between Suvi and Antti. Pedon veri being the most epic song, if I can call it that, on the album. Ending this journey in Finland we have Syvällä vedessä, wrapping it up where Kohtu started. Clocking at almost ten minutes and being melancholic down-tempo this is a song that will bring fort all the emotions on Myrrys. A great way to end this tumult and emotional journey.

As my favorite song I had a really hard time choosing between Sanansaattaja, Murhehuone and Syvällä vedessä. All three portray Noumena of today in a great way and I am sure you will think the same.

Myrrys is released April 28th by Haunted Zoo Productions, an independent record label established by Noumena members. Distribution by Playground Music and Inverse Records. Released in Russia by FONO under the license from Haunted Zoo Productions.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Noumenaband
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/noumenaband
For fans of: Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum
Favorite song: Murhehuone

Antikythera – Antikythera (Melodic Death Metal)

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I get a lot of promos nowadays. Too many even so sometimes I just have to review an album very late after it’s release (sometimes I skip it all together). Don’t get me wrong, I love getting a lot of promos I just wished I had the time to listen to them all and give all bands the attention they deserve. This is one of those albums that was sadly left behind. Being released late in 2016 Antikythera’s self-titled EP was a release many of you (me included) probably missed due to all the “album of the year” lists starting to come out. The name is after an ancient analogue computer used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses for calendrical and astrological purposes.

Antikythera is one of the better debut’s I’ve heard in the melodic death metal filed in a long time. It’s full of wonderful solos (3.30 minutes into the opening track as an example) and the vocals got a lot in common with the legend Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity). That alone puts this EP above the average. It sounds very modern and heavy influenced by the Finnish and Swedish melodeath scene. It’s not just Dark Tranquillity I draw parallels to, it’s also bands such as Insomnium, In Flames, Kalmah and Children of Bodom (especially getting those vibes on the Vagrant Hearts track). None of these are your average metal bands but top tier acts I am more than happy Antikythera draws influence from.

The five tracks you get are good and offers a bit of variation in style. Some more heavy on the synth for example, some got clean vocals and you also got tracks more focusing on the riffs and solos. It might not be perfect but it’s a solid record. Take into the fact that this is a independent digital bandcamp release and a debut then you can guess that these guys can probably pull off a wicked full-length album in the near future. Antikythera’s self-titled album is out now on bandcamp. If you love the more modern Nordic melodic death metal then this is an album you will enjoy.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/antikytheraband
For fans of: Dark Tranquillity and Children of Bodom
Favorite song: Lightkeeper