Recorded at Waiting room recording studio in Tampere. Produced and mixed by Mikael Neves. Mastered by Will Killingsworth at Dead Air Studios. Released on Time to Kill Records on Friday 10 March 2023.
I write this midway through Easter week with my children. It has been a lovely time with my boys, but also somewhat distracting, so I am relying a lot on the press release here.
Syvä hiljaisuus (2023) is Finnish black metal/punk band Qwälen’s second album which ponders the sheep-like nature of humanity, the inevitability of destruction, the acceptance of being faulted and surrendering to a greater force. They compare this to “a dirty knife. Painful and infectious.”
The press release is littered with adjectives: dark and disturbing emotions that “burrow into the listener’s head with relentless, penetrating force”; raw and raving tones, undaunted, fury-filled and emotionally powerful, bleak and bruising, maniacal vocals, flesh-shredding riffage that writhes and roils, gut-slugging bass lines and d-beat drum gallops. The songs are described as “besieged” and “exultant” combining “feral ferocity with mood-changing melody.” Their songs have the simplicity, rawness, speed and honesty of punk coupled with the darkness of black metal.
And I get that… only, there is very little here that is particularly new. The songs trundle away in the background while the vocals holler away on a different plane. It isn’t until the title track, four songs in, that we encounter any of the promised melody and even then it is in short supply.
It is not often that I stop an album that I am reviewing to simply have a break from the relentless torrent of sonic abuse that I am being subjected to. Sadly, this was one of them. Most of the songs long outstay their welcome and while I appreciate the skill required to play at that speed and intensity, this album simply doesn’t move me in the slightest… until the beefy bass solo that introduces the closing track “Maailma täyttyy kuolleista”, but by that point it’s too late. Now, if the album opened with this track things may have been a little different. But I suspect only a little.
I’m sorry, I tried to get into this album. I really did.
Review score: 40%
Anubi Press contacted me inviting me to preview Qwälen’s forthcoming album, thank you. I have no connections to either Anubi Press or Qwälen. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Anubi Press, and to Qwälen for continuing to create fresh, exciting new music.