If you had to find an album that exemplifies for newbies what atmospheric black metal is, I think this self-titled debut from Finnish one man band Kval is perfect in that sense. Actually, upon closer inspection, this wouldn’t be for all intents and purposes the debut full length, as it’s a re-recorded version of the album Kuolonkuu, released under the name Khaossos in 2015 and now re-released by Hypnotic Dirge with a new cover and the addition of a short instrumental track. From the above, it is clear how appropriate this operation was, since here we are in the presence of an interpretation of the genre certainly obsequious to the dictates of Burzum and Forgotten Woods, as per the presentation notes, but that also goes beyond offering a series of tracks capable of capturing the attention and wrap with their very traditional approach and full of excellent melodic insights resting on the classic background hum, characteristic of most of the productions of the nineties. Kval screams in his mother tongue lyrics full of negativity on a carpet of black that makes its linearity its strength: the production that oppresses the voice is the norm in a work that winds on rhythms constantly compassed, with songs marked by melodic cues that are reiterated until you get the desired addiction: the Finnish musician, however, also knows how to stop his reasoned race by inserting some acoustic passages or placing minimal but irresistible keyboards as in what was the title track in the first draft, Kuolonkuu. The album sees as its fulcrum four tracks that alone go well over half an hour in length (in addition to the one just mentioned, the magnificent Sokeus, Harheinen and Polkuni Vailla Suuntaa) since, along with the unreleased instrumental Kaiku Tyhjyydesta, in closing and opening there are two ambient tracks (Usva and Toisella Puolen): Kval is a work that to many may seem obsolete but that, in fact, contains much of the essence of those who were the first steps of atmospheric black metal, and this is already in itself a good reason to listen to it, if not enough a melodic impact far from negligible.

2017 – Hypnotic Dirge Records