“Finnish black metal band records album in sunny Spain”, could be the headline. Well, something made them angry. Ajatarra start out by tearing at our throats like hungry lions. Unsurprisingly, I sensed a touch of Moonsorrow but really “Saatanen Sinetti” (Satan’s Seal) was punkish, thrashing black metal of an Impaled Nazarene kind. Great bass line too. Having captured our attention, they move on to the steadier but equally dark “Ristinkirit”. It’s slowing down. “Suru” (Grief) starts funereally as if it’s about bodies hanging out to dry. There’s an eerie chorus, and apart from the expected spitting vocals, there’s a strange clean input. No idea what they’re about as they’re in Finnish but it’s all commendably ghastly stuff.
Although it’s six years since their previous album “Murhat”, this is Ajattara’s eighth album. It shows in the precise way that they build up atmospheres. “Sinä” has suffering and pain written all over it, but the tribal and belligerent motion intensifies the soundscape greatly, and provides real depth. Intensity of a different kind follows with the more direct thrashing “Amen”. Stopping off for an unholy chorus – what else – the track is a mix of healthy thrash-black metal and satanic verse. No song lasts for long, as there’s metal to be played, and Ajattara’s rage is now manifest in the form of the rather jolly, in the darkest sense, “Ave Satana”. This track is like listening to a Finnish Rotting Christ. It totally sucks you in without compromising on power or evil. It ends with a lovely blood-curdling repetition of the title. The ferocious drum and growly bass line of “Uhrilahja” (Offering) lead us into the dingy depths of hell. It’s a dark place and there’s no prospect of light, it seems. That bass and drum are pungent. The chorus is deep and imperious. No wonder the vocalist sounds like he’s choking. Rotting Christ come to mind again as they embark upon the title track. It’s a controlled riot of majestic sounds. The thing with this album is that each song has character and identity. So where one moment I’m thinking Rotting Christ, the next I’m thinking Dark Fortress, but most of all Ajattara control the tempo between fast ones and the sinister and spooky ones like “Machete”, which closes the album. The satanic chorus adds fuel to the carcinogenic and suffocating flames which the instrumentalists fan so darkly.
“Lupaus” (Promise) all passed off very quickly. I enjoyed this in your face but musically quite sophisticated satanic black metal. There’s no messing with Ajattara. They just hit you with it.
(9/10 Andrew Doherty)