Feb 212024

No matter where; of comfort no man speak:
Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
Make dust our paper and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth

That’s not the last time we’ll quote Shakespeare in this article, but we begin with that excerpt from Richard II for a reason, which you may understand when you hear Counting HoursThe Wishing Tomb, which will be released on February 23rd by Ardua Music.

These Finnish dark metal torchbearers have a way with words too. Here’s how they introduce this new album:

The Wishing Tomb represents a cathartic journey. It’s an exploration of human frailty, dreams, and the unspoken. The tomb symbolizes both longing and release—the place where wishes crystallize and fade away. Counting Hours invites listeners to step into this cryptic space, where emotions resonate and time loses its grip.”

photos by Ossi Lehtonen

This collective are sure-handed architects for the haunted alabaster crypt they’ve made, with a lineup that includes current and former members of Shape of Despair, Rapture, Impaled Nazarene, Colosseum, and The Chant.

The instrumental piece “Unsung, Forlorn” provides the first steps into their musical tomb. Through ethereally glittering and shimmering notes they make the marble gleam and beckon. Through low moaning tones they manifest the lonely and forgotten shades that dwell there forever.

But this band’s ability to cast a melancholy yet inviting spell, as proven through that intro track, is only one facet, albeit an important one, of what the band have achieved here. More facets come to light in the following song “Timeless Ones“.

The dual guitars still wail with brilliant clarity, the low frequencies still pour out grief from catacomb depths, but now we also have the hard punch of the drums and gripping vocals that sing with grim fervor and snarl like beasts, magnifying the music’s dark emotional power.

Moreover, the riffing also throbs like a disturbed heart and provides the channel for agony to writhe, and the drummer also rocks and rumbles. When the song reaches its closing crescendo, it seems to make magnificence out of tragedy.

Canst thou not minister to minds diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuff’d bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?

The physician brought by Macbeth to tend his lady had no cure to offer her (or the king), but of course he didn’t have this album among his potions. And make no mistake, the music here is as much a cure for maladies of the soul as it is a harrowing portrait of them.

Away I Flow” sets a grievous hook right away, and an extended scream amplifies the torment in the pulsating riff and the guitars’ depiction of rising despair. The torment and tension build, relieved only by the somber and soaring beauty of Ilpo Paasela‘s singing voice, but once again Counting Hours create a breathtaking musical monument before they finish, even if it’s one entwined by vines of misery and fractured by shattering growls. At the end a heartbreaking solo does cause the music to flow even more, like a river of tears.

The lyrics of that song explore the journey of letting go and finding solace. That’s something of a theme for the album as a whole — a recognition of the transience of life, a clear-eyed understanding that all human stories will remain unfinished, and an acceptance of that. Solace is as much a hallmark of the songs as pain and regret.

Let’s not forget another hallmark — these songs pack a heavyweight punch too. Thanks to the work of the rhythm section (bassist Markus Forsström and drummer Sameli Köykkä), the tracks deliver grooves you can feel in your gut.

By contrast, the sounds made by guitarists Jarno Salomaa Petrushevski and Tomi Ullgren (judiciously aided here and there by keyboards performed by Jussi Hämäläinen) can seem as fragile as withering flowers and as vast, sweeping, and ethereal as the aurora borealis. Even the acoustic-guitar instrumental that launches the title track is sublime, and not entirely of this world in its sensations.

There really are no weak links in this line-up, and so it bears repeating that the vocals are extraordinary, in both their far-ranging clean and harsh personas. The purity of Ilpo Paasela‘s soulful singing is capable of melting hearts, and he’s equally capable of chasing down the most beastly of death metal vocalists and devouring them whole.

Sorrow breaks seasons and reposing hours,
Makes the night morning, and the noontide night.

Here I and sorrows sit;
Here is my throne, bid kings come bow to it.

Counting Hours have filled The Wishing Tomb with contrasts, moving from tender moments to towering ones, from moods of inner collapse to the tumult of raging defiance, and even the solace of hopefulness. Here there is elegance, there is daunting power, and there is rapture. Through it all, they have a firm grip on the listener’s emotions, capable of moving them as they please, and as if that weren’t impressive enough, they’ve made songs that are all (every one of them) damned hard to forget.

Counting Hours should be very proud of the triumph they’ve achieved in this wishing tomb they’ve made. In listening to it, no self-respecting fan of melodic doom/death metal will go un-rewarded, nor anyone else who wants music that’s profoundly moving, thoroughly captivating, and eminently memorable.

And with that, we’ll leave you to hear all of it for yourselves (if you prefer YouTube, you’ll find an album stream from that platform after the links below):



The album includes backing vocals by Pekka Loponen, Jussi Hämäläinen, and Riikka Hatakka and features cover art by Ossi Lehtonen/Midjourney.

It was recorded at D-Studio, Southcurve studios, and Doomcave, with engineering by Jarno Hänninen, Jussi Hämäläinen, and Jarno Salomaa Petrushevski. It was mixed and mastered by Jarno Hänninen at D-Studio.





  1. I just went to Bandcamp to preorder and it says the digital download is 333 Euros…I sure hope that is a mistake lol.

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