Shadow's Mortuary - Official Website

Tulen Valtakunta

Finland Country of Origin: Finland

1. Intro
2. Raatojen Kuningas
3. Kylmään Hautaan
4. Blasts Of A War Drum
5. Untentuoja
6. Tulen Valtakunta
7. Melankolia
8. Hirttoköysien Juhla
9. Verensakeaa Sumua
10. Labyrintti

Review by Felix on December 2, 2023.

I was not totally convinced of the qualities of Shadow’s Mortuary after I had heard their albums no. two and three. So there was actually no reason to buy their debut as well, but I am a German and this means loyalty till death, downfall or (worst case) unconditional surrender. Now that I have listened three times to “Tulen valtakunta”, I am not smarter than before. The album, ornamented with a slightly spooky artwork, is good, but not great. This leads directly to the question what is missing.

I don’t say that hyper speed is an essential ingredient for an outstanding genre full-length. Songs like “Enter the Eternal Fire”, “Gates to Blashyrkh” or “Serimosa” work despite or exactly because of their mid-tempo approach. Nevertheless, black metal is a synonym for total negativity and destruction and therefore it needs something that makes up for the loss of fury when it comes to slow or mid-paced tunes. An ominous atmosphere or spooky harmonies are always a good idea, for instance. Unfortunately, Shadow’s Mortuary were not aware of this when they recorded songs like “Untentuoja”, the programatically titled “Melankolia” or the title track. These pieces drag themselves along without offering any really exciting moments. The title track has the best riffs, but even they are not able to create an intensive mood. Either way, “Tulen valtakunta” (the song) is acceptable, “Melankolia” houses at least a few good moments, but the other one jumps under the crossbar.

Shadow’s Mortuary can do it better. It is never too late to add a pinch of bestiality and they do this during the last three tracks. The four-piece even offers some thundering high speed parts, but the most significant difference is the higher degree of malignancy that these songs spread. “Verensakeaa Sumua” celebrates explosive rage in a thrilling manner, while “Labyrintti”, the closer, kicks the listener in the teeth. Despite its title, it’s a rather straight track. Yet this is the norm, not the exception here. Shadow’s Mortuary cannot be blamed for primitive song patterns, but the tunes are quickly accessible. The production also makes it easy to get familiar with the material, because “Tulen valtakunta” has a typical Finnish black metal sound, bone-dry, pretty vigorous and not overly differentiated. The guitars and the wicked voice of sole composer Void dominate the mix.

Without the pretty vapid tunes in the centre of the album, we could enjoy its great ending or the sturdily performed first songs after the intro wholeheartedly. “Raatojen kuningas” is aggressive and alarming, “Kylmään hautaan” transports a sad touch without lacking perfidious heaviness. The only song with an English title, the acceptable “Blast of a War Drum”, meanders between ruthless and aimless. All in all, I am still not fully convinced of Shadow’s Mortuary’s art, but perhaps they like to release a fourth full-length soon?

Rating: 7.1 out of 10