Does the “underground” really exist anymore? Most Metal fans over thirty will remember some albums being difficult – in some cases nearly impossible – to track down, but these days the most obscure and veiled albums can be heard online without any real issues. Even the arcane releases of the past are being dragged out of the underground and hauled into the light – a case in point being this ’93 demo from a Finnish Black Metal band so fourth-tier that if you’ve heard of them before you were probably in the band. Finnish Death Metal is often characterised by a crushing Doom-flavoured approach and a preference for suffocating atmospheres over catchy riffs. Rippikoulu (apparently the first DM band to sing in Finnish, which is interesting if not terribly useful for pub quizzes) certainly didn’t buck this trend, the six tracks of Musta Seremonia (Svart Records) consisting of crushing slow-motion riffing, drawn out song structures and an atmosphere of utter bleakness.
For a near-unknown demo one year off its twentieth birthday, Musta Seremonia holds together surprisingly well, with a thick sound and merciless song-structures that at times creates a genuinely stifling feel. This is ugly music, as far as one could get from the thrashy-riffing and audible growled choruses that often pass for “old school Death Metal”. Some of the songs are longer than they need to be, but that’s entirely consistent with the atmosphere of prolonged suffering they build up. The same could be said for the lack of variety and generally one-note nature of the composition.
No, the biggest issue is, of course, the question of what it has to offer for a new listener now. A lot of bands have played this style of crushing Doom/Death in the twenty years since Musta Seremonia was recorded, and some of them have developed and progressed it further. There’s nothing on here that will be new people who are already familiar with the style, and the overbearing bleakness may not make it the best introduction for the curious, but for what it is Musta Seremonia is pretty hard to find flaw with. Rippi Koulu, Motherfuckers! I’m sorry. 7.0/10.0 Rippikoulu on Facebook RICHIE H-R