Review from Metal Temple

Posted by Nick Skog on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 Under: English
From: Metal Temple
Published: June 4, 2019 

KVAL - translating to "anguish" in English - is an atmospheric ambient Black Metal band from Vantaa, Finland. Founded in 2012 under the name KHAOSSOS, the project began by recording a demo, EP and a split albums with 1389 and AURIAL as well as a debut album entitled “Kuolonkuu (Deathmoon).” Cold and dark mid-paced melodic Black Metal with catchy icy riffs coated in frost permeated the output of KHAOSSOS, conveying emptiness and the solitary nature of life. In 2016, the project was renamed KVAL, and the debut album was completely re-recorded under the new moniker. Slight changes were made to the songs as well as improvements to the mix, creating a much richer and more atmospheric sound. In the summer of 2017, the eponymous album was released by Hypnotic Dirge Records in a six panel digipack. Throughout late 2017 and 2018, KVAL began work writing and refining the tracks for their follow-up release, entitled “Laho,” the first album to be conceived entirely for KVAL from the start.

Compared to the previous album, “Laho” ("Rotten" in English) has a brighter and more colorful atmosphere musically while the lyrical themes on “Laho” references the decay and rot of the forest floor, applied as a metaphor for the human mind. Our inability to live in the moment, the loss of innocence, and the ever-present corrosion of our optimism and descent into cynicism encompass the themes of “Laho,” wrapped in captivating and entrancing Atmospheric Black Metal. “Valosula” opens the album, with soft and doleful clean guitar notes. The vocals come in with a distorted riff, menacing and anguished. The droning main riff continues throughout, as alternating passages of harshness and more melancholy ones play off each other, with the addition of piano notes here and there. The closing minute takes advantage of that wonderful atmosphere. “Laho” is another that opens with depressive clean guitars, and what sounds like notes from a flute of some sort. The main riff hits at about the three minute mark, coming in at first a little gently. The vocals however are raging fits of a madman gone insane. It softens a while with an ambient passage with clean spoken words that are solemn in their delivery. The gentle sway continues through the end of the track.

“Pohjantitti” opens with clean guitar passages that lead to a lumbering main riff, rich and full of sound. It holds you there with a hypnotic passage where the guitars lay on the same riff over and over, with anguished vocal screams over top. “Kaihon Kuiskaus” features some pretty but solemn piano notes and simulated cello, I believe. It’s the shortest track on the album, at just over six minutes in length. It’s all about the atmosphere here. The fifth track is listed as a “Bonus Track.” It has a mesmerizing drone to it, like some Desert or Stoner Rock. With no vocals, it allows you to take in the music more fully. Alternating passages of clean and distorted guitars keep you on your toes, and the distorted passages are quite harrowing. I think the bonus track allowed me to understand more of the concept of the album.

Overall, I found that this album embodies what I love about the diversity of the Black Metal genre. Gone are the days when all you had to do was scream over a wall of sound and call it Black Metal. KVAL has expanded this sound with various approaches that bring an element of diversity to the table that you don’t often here in the genre. The Stoner elements are probably not intended but add another layer to the sound as well. Definitely pick this one up!

Rating: 8/10
Reviewed by: Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell

In : English 

Tags: "kval" "kval laho" "laho" "kval atmospheric black metal" "kval finnish black metal" 

 Released:  May 23, 2019
500 Copies
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal