• Kypck / Kursk - Имена на стене / Names on the Wall (2014) - Intense mix of Finnish melancholy and Russian soul - 92% (02/12/14)

    Kypck / Kursk - Имена на стене / Names on the Wall (2014)

    Kypck is a Finnish doom metal quintet with a faible for Russian language and history. Finnish melancholy meets the Russian soul on the three studio records the band has delivered so far. The group is named after a city where the world’s deadliest tank battle took place in 1943 that caused around a quarter of a million casualties during World War II. Kursk is also the name of a nuclear submarine that sank in Barents Sea in 2000 which caused 118 casualties. The band’s music and lyrics are as sinister as these two events and deal with loss, pain and war.

    On an interesting side note, the band features two members of the legendary defunct gothic metal band Sentenced while singer Erkki Seppänen should be known to European power metal fans as singer of the band Dreamtale. His outstanding vocals are expressive, low, melancholic, melodic and throaty and he performs the Russian lyrics quite well as he is an experienced instructor at a language school.

    While the vocals are half the charm of the band, the haunting guitar melodies are the other half and have a really unique touch. The band also includes dark and doom orientated riffs supported by low bass guitar sounds and a slow to mid-tempo driven destructive drumming but what stands out are the melancholic, nostalgic and slightly psychedelic melodies that feel like emotional outbursts for hope in all the drowning darkness.

    This band is all about authentic bleak atmospheres and even the visual side of the instruments support this tendency as Sami Lopakka’s guitar looks like an AK-47 while Ylä-Rautio’s bass has only one string and looks like an old military weapon. The band even has its own Lada painted in a nostalgic military green colour with the band logo painted on it. The booklets present the band members trimmed on old and bleak pictures. The most recent booklet features pictures from the ghost town of Pripyat in Ukraine that was abandoned a few days after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. This historical event has always fascinated me and Kursk’s new record feels like a trip through the ill-fated town near the border with Belarus.

    From the first seconds of “Prorok”, the band builds up a depressing, haunting and psychedelic atmosphere with simple but effective melodies, a surprisingly vivid rhythm section and thunderous, low and intentionally repetitive riffs that are hard to digest. The narrating vocals sound accusing, emotional and melancholic and are sometimes supported by uneasy whispers in the background. The song represents the entire record quite well. The track is uneasy, raw and depressing as it seems to be hard to digest at first contact but the characteristic guitar melodies and the melodic chorus are incredibly hypnotizing and grow with each spin.

    The title song “Imya Na Stene” is one of the most melodic and memorable tracks on here as the song is a little bit more vivid, shorter and to the point than the rest. Guitar melodies and vocals are filled with this distinctive mixture of Finnish melancholy and Russian soul. The chorus crowns this authentic, bleak and eerie doom metal track and won’t get out of your head anytime soon.

    The following “Voskresenie” fathoms the other extreme and evokes strong negative emotions. It’s clearly one of the most disturbing tracks on the entire record. The song is dominated by noisy bass guitar riffs, extremely low and distorted guitar riffs, a dissonant guitar solo, mean guttural vocals and throaty laughter.

    It’s quite a challenge to sing about the fate of children in a concentration camp. “Deti Birkenau” overcomes the potential risks of either writing a hypocritical, moralistic and whining tune on one side or a too condescending, explicit and superficial track on the other. The song is intense in meaning and music as melodies and lyrics filled with calm and low glimmers of hope meet an epic and yet reserved atmosphere of ongoing sadness and suffering. The track has a melodic clean vocal approach, supported by slow melancholic guitar melodies, distorted background riffs and a heavy slow rhythm section. The song also has a few up-tempo parts with hopeful energy and heavenly melodies that soon turn into a repetitive, fatalistic and yet consoling numbness. The philosophical song somehow fits the topic perfectly and sends shivers down my spine. As somebody who has already visited a concentration camp, this masterpiece brings back the depressive despair, bleak fear and destructive hate I had felt when I visited this essential memorial of the grisliest crimes humans not worth being called humans can commit against others.

    You can believe me that the rest of the record is just as atmospheric as the first four songs even though the intensity decreases a tiny little bit towards the end. That's why I'm confident that this unique quintet can still increase its musical intensity and its song writing qualities to surpass this excellent highlight and create an undisputable genre milestone one day. You definitely need to spend some time and be in a receptive mood to fully digest this accusing, angry, bleak, consoling, dark, depressing, disturbing, grisly, hopeful, hypnotizing, melancholic, menacing, mysterious, nihilistic, psychedelic and sad record but it's really worth to dig yourself into this album. If you are looking for an emotional, melodic and intellectually challenging doom metal release, you definitely can’t find anything better than this output in the year 2014.

    « Ария / Aria - Через все времена / Through All Times (2014) - Falls a little short after an amazing start - 72% (28/11/14)Einherjer - Av oss, for oss (2014) - Enter a heroic, nostalgic, raw world of past glory - 88% (03/12/14) »
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