Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

The 2016 release of M. Laakso – Vol. 1: The Gothic Tapes, what is officially considered Kuolemanlaakso‘s third full legth, had displaced admirers of the Kuopio band, as it seemed that the stylistic shift and the leader and founder’s name included in the album’s title amounted to a transformation into a sort of solo project, to the detriment of the future of the band that had made its mark with the notable Uljas uusi maailma (2012) and Tulijoutsen (2014), interspersed with the Musta aurinko nousee ep (2013). In reality, as Laakso himself would later explain, the decision to use the band’s moniker was a marketing ploy to exploit the good reputation Kuolemalaakso had accumulated in the previous years, despite the fact that the work was not related to the previous discography for obvious reasons. The long silence that followed had not helped to dispel the doubts about the band’s fate, and it was nice to see that those fears were unfounded, thanks to the return in this 2022 in classic configuration, with Mikko Kotamäki at the microphone again and, above all, with an album that can not leave indifferent. With the release of Kuusumu a month after Amorphis’ Halo, it’s impossible not to make comparisons between two works that, in some ways, symbolize on the one hand the freshness of a typical underground approach and on the other that of those who have to manage a well-deserved commercial success, consolidated over a thirty-year history. Moreover, it’s bizarre to note that Laakso, in a writer’s guise, has been the author of the authorized biography of Amorphis themselves (which, if I’m not mistaken, has so far only been published in the mother tongue and in German), so a certain stylistic contiguity, that is far from being a copying, is not too surprising; Kuolemanlaakso‘s sound is clearly influenced by a death doom heritage, unlike that Amorphis one, which is oriented to a more epic afflatus; Kuusumu presents three quarters of an hour of varied, intense, strong and at the same time melodic music, with a Kotamäki in a state of grace as well as Laakso from the compositional point of view. The seven songs follow each other without fail, with the peak that for my personal taste comes right at the end with the more symphonic and sometimes dramatic Tulessakävelijä, without forgetting Kuohuista tulisten koskien, an angry song in which Mikko makes us listen again in all its power of fire that growl lately used with parsimony in Swallow The Sun. Markus Laakso confirms himself as a great musician, maybe a bit underestimated until now, especially because of the thick internal competition, but with the quality exhibited in Kuusumu the rise to the hierarchy of Finnish metal can only be the logical consequence.

2022 – Svart Records