Sielunvihollinen - Official Website


Finland Country of Origin: Finland

1. Sinetti Ja Symboli
2. Raivoni Astalo
4. Veitsenterällä
5. Matkani Päässä
7. Kun Kaikki Vihdoin Kuihtuu Pois
8. Läpi Harmaan Kiven

Review by Fernando on August 8, 2023.

Finnish black metal, while I could go on a lengthy summary of how the country is still pumping black metal, that’s pretty much basic knowledge at this point, however this is a bit different. As we have one of those Finnish bands that courts controversy in a way that’s too much for comfort to a lot of people, which is understandable. Which brings us to Sielunvihollinen, this is one of those bands that has (according to Metal Archives) Anti-Islamic lyrics. You’re free to make whatever conclusions and assumptions, and I’d be lying if some of this band’s lyrics from what I could actually understand and translate didn’t make me raise an eyebrow. Alas, I’m not here to pass moral judgment, but definitely take this introduction as a disclaimer, since no one should be forced to listen to music if they vehemently oppose the message or intentions of the band.

With that out of the way, we can now talk about Helvetinkone, the fifth album by Sielunvihollinen and released by Hammer Of Hate. Now and on to it, what does Sielunvihollinen play? Well, it is definitely Finnish black metal through and through, that now trademarked Finnish raw and melodic style of black metal is here and it’s unabashed and unswerving. This band has been at it since 2011 and have pretty much made a name for themselves as a very consistent band but what always catches people’s ears is the way the band blends black metal with Finnish rock and Punk music, the music is obviously very melodic and catchy, but it’s also for lack of a better word, upbeat? Maybe that’s painting a weird picture, but compared to other famous Finnish bands that have melody in their music, Sielunvihollinen definitely stands out, in some areas it sounds like a grittier version of Children Of Bodom but without synths and much more aggressive. This is especially noticeable in this record, previous Sielunvihollinen albums would also get catchy and groovy, but there were bigger walls between songs, if a song was a melancholic and depressive black metal dirge, it stuck to that, same if it was a pure punkish rager. This record on the other hand is consistently rocking and much more dynamic with its scattershot influences from different genres.

The record is definitely black metal at its core, even at its most self-indulgent where the dual guitar play has overt glimpses of Iron Maiden. Furthermore the production is what really pushes the boundaries of Sielunvihollinen’s black metal sound. This record sounds crisp and full, the drumming and the guitars are the most present in the mix next to the vocals which are surprisingly well-fitted in spite of the album’s melodic excesses, though while I’m usually tolerant of a low sounding bass, I do wish the bass wouldn’t be drowned by the guitars and drums because when its actually present it sounds great. What to me is the album’s greatest strength is how everything comes together, since all of the elements on paper for a black metal band would sound flat out ridiculous, but it works. Obviously the members of this band are talented and skilled, it goes without saying that the eclectic influences added into the Finnish style of black metal can only work if the musicians playing the instruments have an equally eclectic set of skills and tastes.

To conclude this review I want to highlight the last two songs on the album which I also think are the best tracks bar none. ‘Kun Kaikki Vihdoin Kuihtuu Pois’ and ‘Läpi Harmaan Kiven’, the second to last one for starters is the longest track so that means the band had to be more adventurous as the record as a whole is fast, aggressive and very technical when it comes to the riffs and leads. On this song however, they both display the best qualities of their Finnish rock and roll, classic heavy metal and punk influences, but it’s also the most black metal song on the record by virtue of how massive and oppressive it sounds, which feels like a contradiction but that’s what makes it work in a very bizarre way. And the last track is where the band pretty much drops the pretenses and do pure, classic and uncut black metal and whatever leanings or tendencies of Finnish rock and punk are more subdued in favor of the album closing with black metal with zero bells and whistles.

While many would avoid a band like this for perfectly valid reasons, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to most, this was a very surprising and unorthodox record to check out, sure, in some areas it is very self-indulgent, but in the realm of black metal, bands that aren’t drunk off their own pretensions and ambitions are a rarity, if anything Sielunvihollinen prove black metal can be more than just screeching, blast beats and tremolo picking, although aside from the already mentioned reasons, not many would welcome such wildly out there influences into a subgenre of metal that strives to be inaccessible to most.

Best tracks: ‘Sinetti Ja Symboli’, ‘Kun Kaikki Vihdoin Kuihtuu pois’, ‘Läpi Harmaan Kiven’

Rating: 7 out of 10