Kuolemanlaakso, a hell of a mouthful if you’re not Finnish, means Valley of Death. Tulijoutsen, their second full-length and third release, is a wholehearted, enjoyable slab of the slower side of extreme metal.

Opener “Aarnivalkea” puts all of Kuolemanlaakso’s proverbial cards on the table – what is featured in this song is a fair summary of the following seven tracks. This Finnish troupe ooze plenty of contemporary metal influences, but the most obvious point of comparison would be with Irish doom metal legends Mourning Beloveth with their sorrowful twin guitar melodies and the combination of clean and harsh vocals. The sinewey, saturated doom tones are fantastic, although it has to be said the connection between the guitars and the drums sometimes leaves something to be desired. There’s always a fine line between production styles, and it appears at times that Kuolemanlaakso tread on the wrong side of polished.

“Verihaaksi” is a strong track, with a hell of a lot of Cathedral and Candlemass tribute going on. Featuring a sinister clean guitar and crushing Sabbath-esque riffs, this track is compelling, but the following “Me vaellamme yössä” is arguably the highlight of the album, with the most impressive guitar playing and song structure. Again, it’s nothing we haven’t heard before but the Celtic/folk lead melodies are succulent and catchy as hell.

The folky, incongruous “Glastonburyn Lehto” a welcome break from the relentless subterranean chugging (in a good way) –  but is nothing that will have you on the edge of your seat. We have some decent female vocals towards the end of the album, which soar above the doom with epic repose, and there is enough quality riffage to keep your interest ’till the end.

It’s clear that  Kuolemanlaakso are not breaking any new ground here on the well trodden path of melodic doom/death metal, but it’s still a good listen regardless.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jack Taylor
April 14th, 2014


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