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Tulus - Old Old Death

Old Old Death
by Martin Knap at 24 March 2020, 8:31 PM

Many people criticize Black Metal as cliché both bot when it comes to its sound and its image, but that‘s just because they were never exposed to anything else other than MAYHEM, DARK THRONE, IMMORTAL, DIMMU BORGIR or DARK FUNERAL (and not even all of these bands have, in fact, stagnated creatively and become stale). If you scratch under the surface, unravel the ideas that noobs and normies have about Black Metal, you’ll find many original artists and an astonishing variety of approaches.  I love a lot of the classic Second Wave of Black Metal stuff, EMPEROR, for example, is one of my favorite bands of all time, and I love MARDUK, early ENSLAVED, ARMAGEDDA, or ULVER’s debut album“Bergtatt Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler”. But I also love the outliners, the weird sounding3 bands like FLEURETY, SOLEFALD, SIGH, BERGRAVEN or DODHEIMSGARD. Two bands that belong into this“outliner” group are SARKE and KHOLD, not becuse they are particularly weird or experimental, they just have a very characteristic sound, that’s hard to categorize.

Both these bands descend from TULUS and still share members (the drummer Thomas Berglie aka Sarke is in all three bands, for example). Sarke and and the vocalist Gard (aka Blodstrup) seem to be the main creative forces behind these bands, both are founding members of all three aforemnetioned formations. The sound is unmistakable, it’s quite raw, it builds on simple, driving riffs, the song can have blast beats, but catchy, mid-tempo grooves are common in them. It’s not your typical raw Black Metal DARK THRONE copy, the riffs often have a proto-Black Metal or even Punk simplicity and drive to them. What makes them stand out is the atmosphere: it’s a mix of melancholy and ominousness, which is quite haunting. TULUS was founded back in 1991, and apart from a six years hiatus in the early aughts stayed active until now.“Old Old Death” is their sixth album, which is being released by Souseller Record eight yeras after the their previous release“Olm og bitter”.

This album keeps things short and sweet, it has ten songs that are all short-ish (many are under three minutes long), and the total play time is just a tad bit over 30 minutes. “Hel” opens with some a simple Doom Metal kind of riff, but soon it kicks in full gear with thrashy riffing and uptempo drum beat. It’s a simple head-bangable with a somewhat ominous vibe, which is made stronger by Gard’s eval, raspy vocals. “I havet hos Rån“  is a song with a catchy, middle-tempo groove, it has a slow, atmospheric middle section with a melancholic guitar line. “Flukt” has a blasty, more recognizably Black Metal verse, but the chorus with a driving synth line is comparatively relaxed. “Villkjeft” is\[m1]  another uptempo, agressive song – it’s only a two minutes long rager –, a lot of the other songs here are mid-tempo. The closer “In Memoriam” is the longers and one of the most dynamic songs here, it has a plodding first half, but an intense ending.

I think most of the tunes are really enjoyable. TULUS go really to the basics on this one, the riffs and songwriting are simple but impactful. It’s not the most inspired album, there are KHOLD or SARKE records that I enjoy a little bit more then this one (the last SARKE record, which went in the opposite direction then“Old Old Death” and had a much more experimental approach, is great for example). But still, this is very solid and has a good replay value.

Songwriting: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 8
Musicianship: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Hel
2. Jord
3. I havet hos Rån
4. Flukt
5. Folkefall
6. I hinmannens hånd
7. Grunn grav
8. Ild til mørkning
9. Villkjeft
10. In Memoriam
Sarke - Drums
Blodstrup - Vocals, Guitars
Crowbel - Bass
Record Label: Soulseller Records


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