There’s all sorts going on here, I was told. This is the all sorts of lingering darkness and “an unsettling core of paralyzing torment”, as the label people describe it.
Lingering post metal describes the beginning. I liked the fact that Kuilu take their time and allow us to absorb the gloom rather than rushing off with another idea, as often happens with debut albums. “Sisyfos” develops into something more violent but it’s carefully controlled and always appeals to the darker side of our imagination. What I am of course defining is something atmospheric, but with the added touches of momentary beauty in the guitar work and plenty of turbulence in the desperate screams and instrumental representations of a far from comforting world. The inevitable comparison with Cult of Luna can be made, but whilst we’re in the same territory, it comes from a different angle. The drum sets the gloomy pace of course but those post metal patterns around it give off an array of depressive yet powerful patterns. It’s easy to become absorbed in this world of lost souls. Now and again the pattern is broken with a venture into that violent and noise-laden world. It’s not cacophony but a musical interpretation of a cosmic breakdown. On it continues, leaving us breathless.
This album consists of four long slabs and keeps going admirably. Of course it was never going to break off into disco, and we should all be grateful for that. With this relentless progress it’s always difficult to maintain the intensity especially it’s the sort of progress, which can wear you down rather than being exciting. The 11 minute “Rauniot” (Ruins) is in one sense more of the same, in another it’s a musical exploration of dark and disturbed places. It’s more of the latter than the former. Midway there’s an intriguing breakdown. It’s not of worlds crashing but of gradual disintegration towards a yet more sinister soundscape. Not allowing us a single ray of hope, the title track starts slowly and melancholically before rising in power and hitting us hard. Progress is too downtrodden to be pulsating but this is the bleak world of Kuilu. It threatens to break down into doom and nothingness but never does that, instead drawing on what life there is and deriving dark energy as it progresses mercilessly through tormented scenes with the aid of the clanking guitar and menacing sound developments.
“Monumentti” is as darkly atmospheric as you could hope for. Its structures are intelligent and draw us creepingly through dark places where no-one would want to spend any time. This album is an absorbingly dark musical experience.
(8/10 Andrew Doherty)