While the level of innovation in the death/doom genre the past few years can definitely be questioned, there has still been a steady stream of quality bands surfacing. Finnish band Kaunis Kuolematon is one of them. Immediate comparisons to Swallow the Sun’s debut “The Morning Never Came” can be made here, as the music is largely concentrated around big melodic chords and atmospheric clean guitar parts spiced up with occasional faster sections. The growled vocals and screams also sound similar to Mikko Kotamäki’s. It’s not a bad thing, as they are competently and passionately performed.
Kaunis Kuolematon – similar but better
There is some quality lead guitar work scattered throughout the album, and keyboards linger behind the rhythm guitar wall in most songs without becoming either a notable addition or a distraction. However, Kaunis Kuolematon has a less gothic and sorrowful mood in comparison. The band feels cold and almost urban due to a sense of underlying anxiety and aggression. While a section like the intro of “Kivisydän” is brooding for a while, they certainly don’t dwell too long on jumping the listener. The songwriting is generally direct for the genre. Most songs are around the 5-6 minute mark and there is a fair amount of hooks, the chorus of “En Ole Mitään” perhaps being the most memorable one.
Finnish lyrics and overall bleakness
The lyrics are in Finnish, so I have no idea what they are about, but the overall sound certainly brings a distinct feel of dystopia and hopelessness to the table. In terms of emotion Kaunis Kuolematon can be compared to Daylight Dies, a band that certainly isn’t afraid to push bleakness the whole way in their sound. This is perhaps where the band differs the most from modern death/doom counterparts; many of them seem to strive for serene beauty, while Kaunis comes across as more ugly and down to earth.
Mikko Heikkilä dominates
One big positive with this album is Mikko Heikkilä’s clean vocal performance. His soaring, gothic vocals in Black Sun Aeon was the reason I originally checked Kaunis Kuolematon out, and he certainly doesn’t disappoint here. He uses his higher register to complement the extreme metal arsenal of growls and screams to great effect. Another plus is the solid production job. Every instrument is audible and the dynamics between the distorted guitars and clean guitars was probably a rightful focus in the process.
The negative is that this, while competent, isn’t a very original album. “Kylmä Kaunis Maailma” is largely centered around proven death/doom formulas. The album largely resides in the typical genre tempos (slow and medium) which doesn’t really bring that much variation to the table. However, the competent songwriting and brilliant clean vocals still make this well worth checking out for fans of the genre.