I can’t deny that in approaching this EP I was inevitably attracted by the presence in the line-up of Mikko Kotamäki, well known as the singer of the immense Swallow The Sun. It’s important to clear up any kind of misunderstanding by saying that, apart from the presence of the vocalist, the common traits between the two bands are not so many, first of all because here the songwriting is not by Juha Raivio but by Markus Laakso, guitarist and keyboardist who conceived the project (not by chance the band’s moniker is partially made up by his surname). Kuolemanlaakso debuted in 2012 with a good full length and this short ep, which consists of four tracks (one of which is a cover), is mainly preparatory to the next album scheduled for release in the early months of the year; as mentioned, the sound, although it can be rightly classified as death doom, does not have the specific characteristics that one might expect from a Finnish band. In fact, although Laakso plays a fundamental role with his keyboards in the crazy symphonic industrial blacksters Chaosweaver, on this occasion he relegates the instrument to a role of simple accompaniment, leaving the guitars and, of course, Kotamäki’s voice to do the talking: what results is, therefore, a multi-faceted songwriting. The first track, Me Vaellamme Yössä, is the most catchy one and could be roughly defined as a more aggressive version of Amorphis, with a nice melodic line and Mikko’s growl to lead the dance, while Tulenväki and Kalmoskooppi are definitely less catchy, even if they turn out to be anything but flat, favouring an unbalanced impact on the death side, and in which the vocalist also shows off his characteristic scream. The last track could be catalogued as the most successful, even if it is actually a cover of a rock band known in Finland in the ’80s, Juha Leskinen Grand Slam: Musta Aurinko Nousee, which also gives the title to the EP, was a good song even in the original version, but Kuolemanlaakso slow down the pace in a remarkable way, transforming it into an episode with a gothic flavour, with the contribution of a Kotamäki who shows an unusual Peter Steele-like timbre. Markus Laakso’s creature shows an interesting potential and, maybe, the only obstacle to overcome in the approach is just the use of the mother tongue, even if I wonder if it still makes sense in 2013 to put up language barriers when by now there are several tools to understand the meaning of texts written in any language. A band to keep an eye on in the near future, then, regardless of reading the names in the line-up.
2013 – Svart Records