Finland’s Melodic Death Doom merchants Kaunis Kuolematon return with their fourth studio release, Mielenvalta, a haunting beast of an album that delivers beauty and brutality in equal measures. It’s melodic yet darkly bleak and crushing and guaranteed to get under your skin.
Kaunis Kuolematon – Mielenvalta (Noble Demon)
Release Date: 13 October 2023
Words: Jools Green
Once again, the lyrics are all in Finnish, delivered with passion and expression. Mielenvalta is a nine-track offering that is only a few minutes shy of an hour, opening on Surussa UUinuva (Sleeping in grief) with its hauntingly reflective, extensive orchestrated intro.
This then bursts forth vocally with acidic highs and growling lows, with punch and drive to the riffing and drum work, with that haunting orchestrated element continuing to course beneath. The ebb and build is dramatic and extreme, one-minute crushing intensity, the next hauntingly reflective open passages. A dramatic and attention-grabbing start to the album.
The next two pieces are both singles released last month, superbly tantalising choices that will have compelled anyone hearing them want to hear the full album. Firstly, the second single, released at the end of September, Elävältä Haudattu (buried alive), is slightly reminiscent of Swallow The Sun. A good thing, I hasten to add.
Beautifully bleak, dark and reflective to open, the low growls are superbly protracted and cavernous, roaring over the haunting melody, and the cleans in the more reflective parts are just sublime. Packed with contemplation and emotion and such a superb contrast with the growls, it is a hugely powerful piece.
Next, Peilikuva (Mirror Image), was the first single released at the beginning of September, again making a massive impact on me. With its hauntingly reflective piano opener and equally reflective cleans, it maintains a very reflectively laid-back mood for most of its duration, and when the more crushing riffs and harsh growls arrived midway through, they sent a shiver down my spine. The acidic higher screams in the second half are decidedly unnerving, and the cleans are utterly superb, soaring, emotive and well delivered. Overall a dark and beautiful track.
On Mielenvalta (Arbitrariness), haunting, clean female vocals open, after which the crushing riffing arrives. It’s superbly complemented by clean singing, the harsh growling arriving midway through, and the female vocals return in the second half; I love the meandering ebb and build to this piece, a brilliantly unpredictable track that surprises with every direction shift.
Beginning with a reflective guitar opener, Nyt Olet Poissa (Now You’re Gone) builds with crushingly dark, doomy intent only to drop away again just before the clean reflective vocals arrive. Building up to some superb second-half leadwork and growled vocals, it is a beautifully emotive piece that packs a punch.
Maan Varjoisan Puolen (The Shady Side Of The Earth) brings a different mood. Eerie, dark with a slightly discordant feel, which I love, the harsh vocals are distant and unnerving, the cleans eerily reflective and the leadwork complex but understated. It still has that engaging ebb and build of previous pieces, and I love how, across this release, those quiet, almost empty moments are as crucial as the more filled moments. Everything is beautifully phrased on this album.
Aallot (Waves) is a light reflective piece where cleans dominate the lyrical delivery. Complemented by clean backing vocals, the bursts of harsh vocals and the crushing riffs add depth and raw texture, together combining into something hugely emotive and thought-provoking.
Penultimate piece, Pahatar, opens in a similarly reflective manner. It’s a superb builder that adds layer upon layer of riffs to harsher vocals, deep growls and higher, more acerbic screams, developing into something complex and powerful.
The final piece, Hukkunut Sydän (Drowned Heart), at almost nine minutes duration, is a reflectively melodic doom-scape. A haunting melody flows and gently evolves whilst keeping a very even pace. The ebb and build is gentle, the variants of depth and texture largely from the switching between harsh and clean vocals. A deeply reflective piece that brings the album to a serene close.
Mielenvalta is a superbly immersive offering that you can easily lose yourself in. No favourite tracks, just end-to-end excellence that should appeal to fans of the likes of Black Aeon Sun, Swallow The Sun and Red Moon Architect.