“Death metal. That’s what’s on the menu today. In fact, that’s all we’ve got on the menu today. No fancy sauces, no creative side dishes, just a big slab of red meat, charred on the outside and bloody on the inside. But it’s Grade A prime, and it do taste good!”
OK, those words are the notes I made to myself as I listened to the first 4 songs on the new album from a Finnish band called Sotajumala (which in English means “Wargod”). And what I wrote to myself continued to hold true until I reached the 8th and final song on the album — the title track, called “Kuolemanpalvelus”. (Unless you’re Finnish, don’t try to say that out loud because you’ll hurt yourself.)
And that song fucked up my nice, neat encapsulation of this album. Why? Well, I’ll get to that.
On Tuesday, we promised that in the next two days we’d tell you about two new albums that would make your heads explode. Yesterday, it was MAFIA by Fleshgod Apocalypse. If you’re reading this post today, it means that some part of your head is still intact. Today ought to Finnish the job. (more after the jump, including a track for you to sample, and a new video . . .)
Like my starting note said, Sotajumala’s new album serves up death metal for serious gourmands. The songs thrive on mid-tempo inexorability — the almost hypnotic hammering of remorseless riffs, the satisfying sound of classic blasts and double bass, deep sandpaper vocals that sound like they’re bubbling up from the center of the Earth or an even darker place, evil guitar leads that swirl and screech.
And if that weren’t enough to sate a serious death-metal hunger, the band has a knack for grinding out headbanging chugs and minor-chord melodic jolts that will put a current through a serious metalhead like a dinner bell in a kennel of pit bulls that haven’t been fed for way too long.
Like we said, most of this isn’t flashy, no novelty for the sake of novelty, but these are songs that capture the special visceral appeal of unadulterated death metal.
And then there’s that title track. All of the eight songs on the album are longer than usual, but “Kuolemanpalvelus” clocks in at 15 minutes. When’s the last time you heard a serious death-metal band play a song anywhere close to that length?
Is it any good? Well fuck yes, it absolutely is. It starts with a sound like clanging bells, the beat of a heart, and the solitary patter of a snare, which eventually are joined by a methodical grinding riff that establishes the recurring melodic theme. That riff alternates, in a verse-chorus-verse structure, with the kind of pulsing drone I’ve come to associate with Gojira.
As the song progresses, the guitars ring variations on the basic thematic riff and eventually begin quivering in an increasingly feverish intensity until the music eventually dissolves again into the fading sound of bells.
The song is in many ways very simple, but only on the surface; it resonates in a deep place. I’ve listened to it repeatedly, and so far, when I come to the end, I think it’s 15 minutes too short.
Sotajumala was founded in 1998, and they do sound like they’ve been playing long enough to leave childish things behind and settle in behind what matters to them about this music, and what matters to listeners like me. All the lyrics are in their native language.
Kuolemanpalvelus was released on June 2 on the Finnish label Cobra Records. You can buy a digital download of the whole album at the Record Shop X web site. To give you a taste of the music, we’ve got a double-serving — one song to stream, and then after that, a new video of another one.
Paratiisin kutsu (The Call of Paradise)