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Kuolemanlaakso: Tulijoutsen

Rustic death-doomsters provide a little too much clarity

Their name means ‘Death Valley’, the album title something about swans – fitting as they were turned loose by My Dying Bride 21 years ago and gothic-death-doom enthusiasts have been obsessively trying to recapture them ever since.

Tulijoutsen is the second full-length from these nature-worshipping Finnish romanticists, and there’s a crisp, pine-scented drama about the clarion axe melodies of Me Vaellamme Yössä (‘We Walk In The Night’) and Musta (‘Black’), guitars steeped in the noble tradition of Gregor Mackintosh’s forlorn elegance with inevitable nods to Amorphis.

Although recorded “in a secluded location in the middle of the woods” it feels too slick and controlled to truly evoke the rural wilderness of their homeland, which appears to be the quintet’s motivation, plus the sub-Dani Filth screeching and standard-issue monotone death growls are seldom very expressive or interesting and there’s too much unexceptional chugging.

However, there are agreeable surprises here and there, with Glastonburyn Lehto (‘Glastonbury Grove’) succeeding as a slinky, eccentric sort of Scott Walker-esque Baltic folk showtune.