I’ve been following this curious psychedelic black metal band from the beginning. Debut Muukalainen Puhuu (2009) was a rather clumsy synthesis by the Finns. It came off as an interesting album from a gimmick band, but lacked a very strong gimmick. The evolution shown on Kosmonument (2011) was astounding. I placed that intimate exploration of pain and fear at number 5 for the year. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to hear where they would take it from there, and Valonielu does not disappoint.
Wisely, they did not attempt to make the same record. I don’t think they could have surpassed it. Instead, they’ve dialed it back. Where Kosmonument was almost unrelentingly dark and, in places, impenetrably dense, Valonielu is just a little less serious and a lot more accessible. The riffs are a little less trance-inducing and a little more catchy, the synths (both of the more “musical” variety and the “outer space sound effect” kind) are a little more self-aware, maybe even playful.
In addition, they still have a masterful grasp of dynamics. They still ensure there are slow, doomy parts as well as fast parts, and heavy parts as well as space exploration parts. The two longer songs (“Uraanisula” and “Ympyrä On Viiva Tomussa”) run the gamut in themselves, and there are four shorter songs to provide the less obvious short/long dynamic, which, when used properly, is a function of more than just length but also of song development.
Valonielu does not have the intense emotional impact of its predecessor, but has its own virtues. There were two moments that I wished for the space suit to puncture a little bit sooner than it did, but that’s a minor complaint in the face of an album this good.
The Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars
20 Buck Spin