In my mind, a good album is one that seems to fly by, and you enjoy what you’re listening to so much you’re surprised when it ends. What makes it more enjoyable is when you don’t know the band that created the album in question, and they make you an instant fan.

It has happened many times over the years, and it’s happening with Kuolemanlaakso this year. The album in question, Tulijoutsen, which translates to “The Fire Swan,” is an hour of doom/death dirges that are both bleak and beautiful. Vocalist Kotamäki (Swallow The Sun) can sound absolutely possessed one moment, soothing the next, and then somehow combine them directly afterward. The band brings to mind a version of Opeth that is less concerned with guitar wizardry and is instead focused on creating soundscapes, like the seven-and-a-half-minute “Arpeni,” with cathedral bells accentuating the spots where bent strings and palm-muted chugs go silent and a two-minute minor key octave theme carries most of the rest of the song. Guitarists Laakso and Kouta rarely stray outside the rhythm, with the former also providing moody keyboards accents.

Tulijoutsen is a long listen. None of the songs are under five minutes long; however, the its pace is extremely brisk, and the record ends leaving you wanting more. That’s definitely a good thing, and Kuolemanlaakso will definitely be a band to remember when putting together any best of the year list.

 Tulijoutsen is out now on Svart Records.

Rating: 5/5

The following video is from the band’s debut album, also on Svart Records.