TURTUMUS: Jälleenheräävä viha
Release year: 2023
Label: Misantropia Records
Ever since the mid-noughties or so, Finnish black metal has been a pretty dominant and influential thing in the underground. The so-called Finnish sound, a combination of melancholic melodies and uncompromising rawness, as spearheaded by the likes of Satanic Warmaster, has swept all over the world and has become widely imitated. I think you can justifiedly say that this was when Finnish black metal came of age. Before that, there had been countless bands, but not much in the way of a common denominator in sound, and a lot of the acts took their cues from the influential acts of other countries. Norway figured majorly in this, to no-one’s surprise.
In many ways, young Finnish act Turtumus are a throwback to this earlier day and age. Not only is their sound and style excessively raw, even to the point of crude; they don’t have qualms about wearing their influences on their sleeve. And, for the most part, you have to look outside of Finland for these influences. Norway figures majorly here.
Turtumus’ approach to black metal is primitive and straightforward. The guitars buzzsaw with furious tremolo picking, the drums plod along speedily, and bass is so inaudible in the mix I’m not sure there is any. The occasionally heard synths create atmosphere by mainly just following the guitar melody. On occasion, acoustic guitars will weave atmospheres. It’s all very much lifted from the classic Scandinavian black metal playbook.
Every now and then, the riffs remind me of the sort-of-folky style of Isengard, or The Shadowthrone era Satyricon. The same kind of swagger. The vocals, on the other hand, remind me of early Burzum: a hoarse, almost hysterical and decidedly tortured howl. The drumwork also reminds me of early Burzum: it’s the same kind of straightforward, neanderthal plod which focuses entirely on serviceability, ignoring all flair and finesse.
This focus on boneheaded straightforwardness characterizes much of the release. As with the drums, the guitars focus on heavy-handedly delivering the riffs, with little to no nuances or elegance. This adds a certain ye olde demo days sort of feel to the recording. But if you’re about to cluck your tongue, let me stop you there: the above is not a bad thing. Whoever says primitivity and crudity don’t belong in black metal should leave the room. But, to be sure, there are moments on Jälleenheräävä viha where the combination of primitively straightforward arrangements and not-too-tight musicianship risks becoming too much.
But those are just the odd moment here and there. For the most part, Turtumus keep things well enough together; at the best of time, reaching even very fine results. The Burzum-meets-Isengard stylings of Mustat kahleet and the decidedly folky riffing of Pedon kynnet are particular highlights; the demo-like lack of polish and jagged edges are in no way counterproductive in how good these tracks are. On the other hand, the guitar melodies of Tyhjä katse, sounding as they do a bit out of tune and out of time, are demo-like and raw in the wrong ways.
However, summing things up, there’s easily more stuff in the positive bracket for Turtumus than in the negative. Especially as we’re talking about a young band and their first release. This makes it extremely easy to forgive and to some extent even ignore the shortcomings of the release. The core concept is solid, and tracks such as the aforementioned two more than sufficiently prove Turtumus have what it takes to craft good black metal out of that concept.