Ever an offering to the self-deprecating abyss of existence Lappeenranta, Finland based project Kuilu have spent nearly a decade groaning their defeated echoes from the pit of modern black metal’s greatest depressive chasms. At once embodying the resigned lilt of depressive black metal, the searching rhythms of modern atmospheric black metal, and now some elements of atmospheric sludge metal Kuilu‘s style is a soundtrack meant for the patiently defeated, music that’ll best connect with the most dejected and sour moments life has to offer. Grief, loneliness, and quiet self-defeat felt on their ‘Haudalla/Virta’ EP all seemed to stem from the same corners of the mind that inspired groups like Austere and Verge. As Kuilu further developed their sound with a demo in 2014 so began a notable loftier ambition realized in full on ‘Monumentti’.
A certain frustration guides the hand of Kuilu‘s debut full-length through waves of naked emotion and passive-aggressive resentment. It is almost certainly meant to evoke Sisyphean plight and frustration, and achieves as much. Some looming threat is felt in the resounding basslines and measured drumming of ‘Monumentti’ which form useful cinematic builds through four 10-14 minute tracks. Although I am highly reminded of more recent work from Hypothermia, with extended compositions and dour atmospheric ambition, Kuilu is a reserved and looming entity too structural to warrant any sort of 30-40 minute meander. The struggle conveyed through the music gives purpose greater than musical fancy, and in this way ‘Monumentti’ appears genuine even when toying with typical depressive black metal sounds.
The first two listens were absolutely a nightmare for me. Though I found their early EP and demo palatable and unique enough for atmospheric black metal this full-length insists upon concerted listening and focus. Each track offers both beauteous climb and descent but like any timely atmospheric metal does in 2018 but also jagged moments, rocks to crack one’s skull upon, that offer challenge and interest. So, in times of distraction ‘Monumentti’ tugged at my attention while insisting I watch my step. It wasn’t until I gave Kuilu my full attention that it’s corrosive, doom-like qualities began to surface it’s greater value. None of this is complaint at all and I appreciate the ringing, dissonant roughage that found it’s way into the project’s writing by 2016, when the album was recorded.
“Sisyfos” and “Madot” are affecting as a monumental pairing and serve as the most needled-over, complex compositions of the record. ‘Monumentti’ immediately expresses some greater shift in focus and ‘serious’ execution from Kuilu. The production has some of the organic clangor of Oranssi Pazuzu, complete with vivid basslines at the throat of the mix, and this makes “Sisyfos” a high point for my taste. From there the crawling build of “Madot” sparks the peak of the record for me as it builds towards release and sustains only for 2-3 minutes before dissolving. The final two tracks are no less dynamic or interesting but I found myself pacing my listens with two songs at a time, as I often do when obsessing over a length funeral doom record. That’d ultimately be my endorsement for Kuilu‘s debut, that it tapped into my dysthymic catharsis without stabbing a finger into the eyes of self-pity, and instead provided challenge and virtuous guitar work worthy of re-examining over several listens. Even if you’re not such a technician, or analytical fool, ‘Monumentti’ offers melancholic black metal with commendable strength and challenge enough to differentiate from their peers.
|Released||May 5, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on Kuilu’s Bandcamp!||Follow Kuilu on Facebook|
Atmospheric Black Metal,
Depressive Black Metal,
Punishment in the underworld. 3.75/5.0
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