Svart Records (13 June 2014)
‘Ulvaja’ is a beautiful onslaught of emptiness and woe; 18 minutes of sensual suffering that will terrify and then embrace your soul. Cult act Rippikoulu, known for their 1993 release ‘Musta Seremonia’, had disappeared for 21 years. Then, in early 2014, they delivered a brand new master tape to Svart Records.
This 18-minute EP of slow death-doom is at its finest when the choral backing comes to the fore, such as halfway through the first track, revealing an elated, majestic side to Rippikoulu’s misery. The following song is a soaring black metal fest, still epic, but preferring the path of savagery over sophistication.
Happily, the band know when they’re onto a good thing and return to indulging the epic, dramatic side of their nature on the third and final song. Throughout this, the EP’s title track, it sounds like Enya has been possessed by Lucifer and joined the band in the studio, with otherwordly female backing providing glimmers of beauty behind the growling, bloody vocals and pained, sorrowful guitars.
‘Ulvaja’ is perfect in places. The vocals are sometimes too raw to work in harmony against the delicate backdrop, and the middle track is a little too blackened for some tastes, but, after 21 years away, this is a spectacular return for these Finnish doom masters.