Record Label: Independent
Unsigned, unknown, no info on band members and a short 31 minute debut album of Atmospheric Black Metal. All sounds a little familiar although the church burnings and murders are now a thing of the past, and Black Metal has moved rather forlornly into the realm of trend music. To be visible in today’s bulging scene is becoming harder and harder, almost on a daily basis. It takes something really special nowadays to stand out from the crowd, and here is where Finland’s Myrsky steps briefly into the spotlight with the ominously titled “Tuonelalle.” (to the underworld).
Rather lacking in the imagination department, the opening track is titled “Myrsky,” sure to become the band’s battle hymn performed as the last track at enormous gigs across the planet. Possibly. But probably not. After a nicely arranged acoustic opening, the track kicks off at breakneck speed, only to settle into a slow/medium-paced offering of reasonably standard melancholic Black Metal. It’s all very well performed, well produced and does occasionally change up the gears, seemingly to give the drummer something exciting to do. The guitars tend to stay rather static, full of wistful reverb and echo. The tune is solid, if not particularly original and the vocals, although competent, break no new ground. A very ‘medium’ start.
“Villin Kasvot” seems to serve as an extension of the first track. It’s a rapid-fire slab of good quality BM, again not startling in its originality, but very capably performed. And although billed as an atmospheric BM album, it’ll take a certain amount of effort to be emotionally moved. So far, everything about this album is screaming ” Good, but could be better.”
“Menetetty,” then, has to be the saviour, a track to liven this album up, to make the listener sit up and take note- a track to save the album from sliding into the depths of obscurity. And there is actually a partial success. Along with some exemplary chugging, there are some very good tunes and riffs packed into this track. It seems the band has had some kind of epiphany and gathered some ideas together. And whilst waiting for the vocals to kick in to complement the quality tunes, it ends. An instrumental. Damn, thought we were onto something there. The lovely piano ending though.
“Kalma” kind of snaps into life with a synth wind effect suddenly jumping in with no fade-in. Come on chaps, if you’re going to advertise atmospheric music, then at least take care of the atmosphere. Fading in the wind would have been way more effective than suddenly pressing the “ Wind On” button on the mixer. With that gripe out of the way, this track actually turns out to be the winner so far. Blindingly fast, full of riffs and darkly foreboding, “Kalma” knocks it out of the park and then abruptly ends, taking us swiftly to the finale, the complicatedly titled “Makea Katkeruuden Aani.” Placed oddly at the end of the album, this track is for sure the centerpiece of Tuonelalle. The guitars swing in an almost waltz fashion, leveled nicely against the ever-changing tempos of the drumming. It is certainly the most crafted of the tracks on offer here, and clocking in at around 9 minutes, by far the longest. And it’s all capable, solid stuff.
This album genuinely feels like it’s been made by Black Metal fans – guys who have an undying passion for the scene and have therefore taught themselves the dark arts of BM riffing, bought a drum kit, paid a fortune in studio time, studied the history, taken some pictures in the woods and ticked every other box in the BM checklist. It’s partially successful as Myrsky does hit the target in patches throughout this album. But the misses are a bit too glaring. The album fails to deliver many original moments and relies a little too heavily on the tried and trusted chords that have haunted the scene since 1992. But let’s remember this is a debut, and in BM that “ difficult second album” is usually a triumph.
I’m hoping this is the case here, because Myrsky are currently performing at a mediocre level, but have the potential to go a lot further.