By Dr. Abner Mality

Rippikoulu is one of the big secrets of the Finnish underground. Their original release “Musta Seremonia” back in 1993 was considered a classic of doomy death metal and there was a buzz about the band. A buzz which was answered by….nothing. For 21 years, nothing more was heard of Rippikoulu. And now in 2014 we have an EP “Ulvaja”.

If you have any liking for miserably bleak death metal with melodic overtones, this is something to get a hold of. The band’s sound and method hasn’t changed much from 1993. The pace is mostly funereal, with an occasional blast beat, and it feels like there are about 20 guitars caving your head in. The vocals are beyond guttural and comparisons to the likes of Thergothon are in order. But there are also snippets of stark piano, folkish ambience and even female choirs adding to the misery. A much heavier and uniquely Finnish take on My Dying Bride is an accurate assessment of “Ulvaja”.

First track “Jaa hyvasti kaunis kesa” (rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?) is a sluggish monolith of crushing doom that oozes along for eight minutes plus. A fitting introduction to Rippikoulu’s death/dom. Surprisingly, second cut “Loputon” clocks in at less than 3 minutes and is torchingly fast. That leads to the final title track, which length-wise is nicely nestled between the first two and which contains the most melodic elements. So you get a variety of gloom here while remaining faithful to the general mournful spirit.

A new full length of this quality will put these guys on the map, where they should have been many years ago. Unless they hibernate once more…