Many years ago, when I was just getting started down the road of Metal, one of the albums that really got me hooked on Black Metal was the debut album “Itse” by the criminally underrated Finish Black Metal band AJATTARA. And now, all these years later, I have the pleasure of reviewing their eighth full-length album “Lupaus”. With fans having waited six years for this release, many are wondering what this long silence will mean for their sound. Spoiler alert: the distinctive AJATTARA sound that we all know and love is still very much present.
Right from the very first note of “Saatanan Sinetti”, AJATTARA burst forth with a vicious onslaught that relentlessly carries on throughout the entire album. Pounding drums support the swirling and hypnotic riffs whilst the shredding vocals tear away all in their way, whilst squealing guitars two minutes in give the song a charismatic twist of madness. “Ristinkirot” takes on a slower pace, but loses none of its ferocity, with a chunky bass adding to the roiling madness. Perhaps more melody-driven than the opener, a slower and sleazier section gives the song a foreboding sound, whilst minimal clean vocals and synths add an unexpected lighter facet which AJATTARA pull off well. “Suru” on the other hand starts out with a ominous melody which gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it, with a sound that would make a fitting soundtrack to the end of the world. This hell-spawned song is however marred by the hopeful-sounding guitar riffs and clean vocals which keep surfacing. Whilst these sections in themselves are not bad, the contrast between these and the venomous evil of the heavier sections is a bit too stark, and what worked on “Ristinkirot” fails rather miserably here, in my opinion. However, “S.I.N.Ä.” more than makes up for this, melding majestic moments with a fist-pumping devilish darkness. This is the quintessential AJATTARA sound I fell in love with all those years ago. And just as you think it can’t get any better, the rabid maelstrom of “Amen” kicks in, dripping pure evil from every note. This carries on in “Ave Satana”, which combines a catchy sound with powerful drums and gravely rasped vocals that are completely devastating. This doesn’t let up on ”Uhrilahja”, although a slightly more Black ‘n Roll sound comes to the fore. But all of this seems like foreplay leading up to the climatic title song “Lupaus”, which takes the penultimate spot on the album. Epic melodies underlie charging hooks and crushing riffs, with echoing and piercing screams added to the mix. Synths and acoustic guitars add brilliant facets to the song, taking a good song and transforming it into a crushing beast. All too soon we find ourselves with the closer “Machete”, with a melancholic melody that is nonetheless devastating.
Despite containing nine songs, “Lupaus” runs just over half an hour, which is slightly disappointing, given how long we’ve waited for this release. However, this is about the only thing about the album that fans will find to complain about. If you’re looking for an album so evil it could quite possibly make your local church spontaneously combust if played too loud, then “Lupaus” is definitely for you. Hell, even if you’re just looking for a Black Metal album that doesn’t regurgitate the same old tired style, check out this crushing release.