Rippikoulu – Ulvaja

Although this name will say little to most people, Rippikoulu are actually one of the oldest bands in the Finnish death doom scene, having taken its first steps in the early 90s and having been the first to experiment with the use of the Finnish language in this style. Their past production is, in fact, limited to only two demos (the second of which, Musta Seremonia of 1993, is described as one of the milestones of the genre, at least on home soil), as the band decided to stop the activity following the disappearance, in ’95, of guitarist Marko Henriksson. In a rather surprising way, then, Olli V. and Anssi Kartela, two of the five original members of Rippikoulu, have put the band back on track by recruiting a new rhythm section and giving to the prints for Svart Records this EP containing three unreleased tracks that, apparently, could prelude, in addition to the future release of new material, even the reissue of the now unobtainable second demo. Having said that, it must be said that the eighteen minutes of Ulvaja do not disappoint expectations, showing us a band that, despite the long silence, still seems able to leave its mark with its leaden death doom but marked by large melodic openings, assisted by the use, however, rather measured, of an ethereal female voice. Of course, compared to realities emerged in recent times as Kaunis Kuolematon, just to give an example of a band also characterized by the use of the mother tongue, Rippikoulu could appear a bit too anchored to the stylistic elements of the genre, although, I want to reiterate, this is not a defect in the specific field. If we want, what is less convincing in this comeback is instead the use of growl, really not too expressive and that, in the long run, partially penalizes the good work highlighted both technically and compositionally by the band. The title track, in particular, shows how Rippikoulu have not lost the attitude necessary to compose dark songs, full of pain and melancholy and able to move emotionally the listener. Less than twenty minutes are few to judge an unavoidable release, but they are still more than enough to believe that Rippikoulu can still have a lot to say in a genre like death dooom in which, and it could not be otherwise, even the smallest evolutions from the stylistic point of view occur with the absolute slowness.

2014 – Svart Records