Tomb of Finland
Across the Barren Fields

My friends, we are inching ever-closer to that most wonderful time of year again when you can actually go outside and, like, EXIST without instantly bursting into flames. When the air is crisp and everything doesn’t smell like either hot piss or cooked manure. The modern human is not made to endure summer. Summer arrives with an endless list of ways to come and murder you, your dog, and your small children, without so much as one fuck given. And its only getting worse! Summer is trash. TRASH.

Autumn brings so many wonderful things to the table – but perhaps the best part is the eerie, spooky aesthetic that arrives with it, creating a perfect atmosphere to better enjoy the darker, more grim things in life. In particular, it marks the beginning of Doom season. I’m old and wouldn’t touch Tik Tok with a 300 foot pole, but I assume there’s an equivalent to the scarf, flannel and pumpkin spice Instagram selfie on there somewhere, and for metalheads, Doom Metal is that scarf, flannel and pumpkin spice, basic bitch selfie for autumn. You just do it, and you love it – and for my money, nobody does Doom better than the Fins (HOT TAKE ALERT, I KNOW). So who better to usher us into fall than an all-star lineup of Finnish metal veterans called Tomb of Finland? The answer is no one, obviously.

This is the band’s third offering since 2015, and to get right down to it, it’s also the band’s best – which is saying something, considering the excellence of their first two albums, “Below the Green” and “Frozen Beneath.” To be more accurate, Tomb of Finland – led by Kaunis Kuolematon lead vocalist Olli Saakeli Suvanto and ex-Wolfheart guitarist Jasse von Hast – bring a recognizably Finnish brand of Death Doom that carries the kind of crushing grooves, gorgeous melodies and outright heft that you’d naturally expect from something like this, but delivered with the kind of conviction and confidence found in only a select few (Kaunis Kuolematon themselves certainly qualify). While the overall sound might not necessarily be re-writing any books, it’s the execution on Across the Barren Fields that sets it apart. Nearly every song has at least one “wow” moment that makes you inch a little further up in your seat and take notice. Sometimes this comes in the form of a pulverizing breakdown, such as near the end of “Coffin Bound” or near the mid-point of “Cursed be the One,” which, with a proper set of speakers or headphones, will crush you into mush just as effectively as any modern Deathcore bruiser might – different kind of delivery, but the results are the same. In other instances, the melodies really carry the day – such as in the instance of “Wretched Bliss” with its soaring, majestic chorus that’s every bit as epic as the song’s opening vocal choices are… uh… kinda weird. I don’t know why, but the band decided to deploy what sounds kinda like if Cattle Decapitation‘s Travis Ryan phoned in a half-assed vocal appearance on some no-name band’s record. This strange vocal delivery doesn’t make an appearance anywhere else on the album so… I don’t know why they’re here? Regardless, once you get past those, the track delivers an immense groove and awe-inspiring melody that makes up for any misgivings ten-fold.

What makes Across the Barren Fields, and indeed, Tomb of Finland so effective is that it feels like a sort of celebration of all things Finnish Death and Doom. Whether its Von Hast and fellow axe man Mikko Hannuksela reaching into the vault for a smattering of Amok and Down-era Sentenced (“Waiting for the End,” ” In Memoriam”), or pulling off the seemingly perilous balance of outright heft and beautiful melody a la early Amorphis or Dark the Sun (“Perpetual Entombment,” “Nightfall), or getting right down in the murk with the crushing weight of Swallow the Sun (“The Gallows”), this is a band that is very clearly proud of their heritage and set out to highlight everything that makes finish metal so unique and distinguished from their peers. But they also up the ante a bit, borrowing plenty from their neighbors to the west in Sweden to help make for a more robust listening experience. The main riff on “Shadows of the North” has At The Gates adoration dripping all over it, and there’s certainly no shortage of HM-2 crunch throughout to help give this thing an extra heavy set of nuts to go along with all the beautiful harmonies at play.

I feel better already having just listened to Across the Barren Fields. My lungs feel refreshed as if having just breathed a fresh, crisp mountain air – my taint no longer feels like it’s drowning in an overgrown swamp of my own bodily fluids. I feel alive! And yet, also, a little more dead inside. But I guess that’s sorta the overall vibe going on here, right? Tomb of Finland effectively ensure that you feel all the feels, get swept up in the flow of these beautifully orchestrated songs, and still find the time to bash your skull in with a an album as heavy as any you’ll find. Get a hold of this thing pronto and dive full in to spooky season like I have.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
August 31st, 2022


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