Se Lusiferin Kannel - Valtakunta [Signal Rex - 2019]Black metal can come in many different variants. It makes no sense to list them all here for this review, but atmospheric Black Metal has always stood out for me. I always felt this particular variety allowed composer abilities to truly shine, and talents of musicians to be fully revealed. Added to this a good sound engineer can create a unique atmosphere on a great atmospheric black metal record- and that’s what happens with the record to hand.
Finnish band Se Lusiferin Kannel have existed since 2012, but have only released on full length (Ensimmäinen) Valtakunta- a 2017 self-release. I could not find any specific information about this band. I have no idea how many members are in the band, or thier names. It seems that musicians prefer to maintain complete anonymity.
At the beginning of 2019, the Portuguese label Signal Rex released Se Lusiferin Kannel album called Valtakunta. This is a re-mastered version of the debut album. It's available on 2LP and CD editions, as well as in the digital version. All of which are available for ordering from the label's website.
The cover is a black and white photo with the addition of creepy colour detail. We can see the withered, cracked road, running between the hills. On the road are four figures, wrapped in black cloaks. Two figures are in the foreground, the other two are in the distance. Maybe these are the band members?. On the left side of the road, there is a stone entrance. Perhaps this is the entrance to some underground temple. Above this landscape, there is a dirty red cloudy sky. The band name and the title of the album are not on the cover. In general, the cover makes a rather gloomy and disturbing impression. A kind of post-apocalyptic procession among drought-scorched, lifeless hills. In my opinion, this is a good design job, but it would be more suitable for a band in the Drone Doom genre.
The album consists of four rather long songs, each of which lasts almost twenty minutes. So accordingly, the total duration of the album is also quite lengthy – at just over one hour and ten minutes. It begins with a rather gloomy introduction based on orchestral hits. And then we plunge into the abyss of sound, which I would characterize as a 'wall of atmosphere'. It feels like the listener is in the epicentre of a sound tornado, and you can hear music from all sides.
It is difficult for me to describe each composition separately, because, firstly, the album is made absolutely monolithic, and secondly, each track is so saturated with various nuances that it would take too much time and literary talent to describe each composition in detail.
So this is undoubtedly atmospheric black metal. But it has such a dense atmosphere that it becomes a solid wall of sound. I can say with great confidence that the main goal of the creators of this album was precisely the atmosphere since there is no emphasis on the party of any instrument. Guitars and keyboards play in unison, drums are located somewhere in the background and, sometimes, barely audible to the ear. It all sounds so whole that the listener can simply forget that he is listening to a metal album.
The melodic lines here are somewhat mean. Basically, it is typical for atmospheric black metal, harmonious combinations of chords. However, in combination with the general sound and the original vocal part, this becomes an advantage of the album. Vocal lines are represented here mainly in two variations. This is a classic black metal vocal, which is given an atmosphere corresponding to the overall sound of the album. And also - these are magnificent chorals, sung by a pure male baritone, which is often used in Orthodox church chants. These corals, combined with the atmospheric wall of sound, are very impressive and fascinating, as well as fragmentary changes in the mood of the album. If black metal vocal line gives darkness, then clean vocals bring some kind of majesty. It’s worth mention. Sometimes, within the wall of sound, I singled out some interesting synth passages, the sound of which seemed to be very familiar. Having read the release information, I was surprised to find that when recording an album, such a rare tool as a termenvox (theremin) was used.
Since Valtakunta is a remastered edition of the debut album, I, of course, got acquainted with the previous version. On the original album, the sound is less atmospheric and rich. In the new version of the album, the compositions have a slightly longer timing, but not by much - on average one minute. In general, the sound of the original version is also quite clear and atmospheric. It seemed to me that the re-mastering, in this case, could not have been carried out, since I did not hear any special improvements in the sound in the new version. Yes, the album became more atmospheric, but in some moments (especially in the quality of the sound of drums), it loses a little clarity.
So, I, as a big fan of atmospheric black metal, I can say that this album is a near perfect example of the genre. Sure this is a difficult album. To fully understand it and feel it, you will most likely have to listen to it several times- but it’s well worth it. There are, a large number of bands play in this genre, comparisons are inevitable. I would say - Se Lusiferin Kannel is a fusion of Darkspace and Batushka, recorded in a lifeless post-apocalyptic space. It seems that Se Lusiferin Kannel are preparing the next full-length album. So I hope that it will turn out to be no less impressive than Valtakunta.Sergey Pakhomov