This is Vuolla’s first full length release, and it is indeed an epic affair. If I told you that Vuolla were from a rural town in Southern Finland, surrounded by lakes, I wonder if you could guess the genre? Give yourself a point, if you guessed that some kind of epic doom/death was involved! From the country that brought us Swallow The Sun, we have Vuolla – equally as grand in their musical vision, but not quite as glossy and melodic.
Vuolla fuse crushing, epic and well-produced Doom/Death with a drifting, rather creepy take on Post-Rock. They’ve added several , disparate elements to create quite a melting pot of metal; as well as vast, epic death growls and crushing, doom-laden riffs, there are also layers of quite high-pitched keyboards which remind me more of church organs. There are also clean, mournful vocals courtesy of Kati K, who also plays the keyboards, as well as many twisted, eerie clean guitar arpeggios. This isn’t a carbon copy of Swallow The Sun, that’s for sure.
Many of the songs are lengthy, and in their finer moments, it feels like watching the end of the world in slow motion. When the crushing, slow motion guitar riffs, keyboards and dual vocals all come together in perfection, it is immensely powerful. Sometimes it seems to almost have the epic, lush quality of bands like Within Temptation and The Gathering, and at other times it is raw, dark and grim, especially when they introduce the dissonant, mysterious guitar arpeggios, which they use to good effect. Throughout all tracks, is a constant thread of the utmost melancholy; this is doom which really does sound sad, bitter and bleak.
I guess their own description of `Post Rock/Doom Death’ fits well enough, although it doesn’t really do enough justice to their sound. There really are some amazing, epic moments on this album, both the huge, crushing doom passages, and also the grim, bleak minimalism they like to include.
However, my main criticism is that it is not all that varied; one song does to my ears sound very much like another, and when each song is a similar pace and length, the album does tend to merge into one long experience. They do shift from minimalism to full-on doom, but this is done in the same way on each track, and so over time, loses its impact somewhat.
That said, it is certainly a very good quality debut album, with a great production. In time, with an even more varied approach to the song writing they could achieve some really great things.
(7/10 Jon Butlin)