Mielenvalta by Kaunis Kuolematon (review)

The masters of melancholic metal from Hamina/Finland, Kaunis Kuolematon have come up with a new and brilliant album named: “Mielenvalta”.   

Kaunis Kuolematon relased “Mielenvalta” exactly six years  after their highly emotional single “Palava Maa”. This piece marked their unquestionable break-free from whatsoever genre boxes. This new album now is a metaphorical Finnish tango on the shattered ruins of the limited horizont of genre fetishism. Yet or perhaps just because of that it is as metal as melancholic metal can be.

“Mielenvalta” consists of eight songs summing up to approximately 57 minutes. As always, the lyrics come in Finish. Kaunis Kuolematon are: Olli Suvanto (vocals), Mikko Heikkilä (clean vocals, rhythm guitar), Ville Mussalo (guitars), Jarno Uski (bass), Miika Hostikka (drums).

100 Shades of Black and 50 shades of Light

The album “Mielenvalta” is more extreme than previous releases. It is darker and weightier, yet simultaneously lighter, almost buoyant, and at times even somewhat banal; mostly all within the same song. Black comes in form of blackmetallish vibes, void-suggesting growls, crushing breaks and approximately 97 other forms. The light rises with sun in Mikko’s voice, with the warmth in the acoustic guitars or the soft tenderness of the bass lines apart from another 40 plus elements.

The songs on “Mielenvalta” are gorgeous symphonies of the eternal struggle between light and darkness. They are coming in a wider spectrum of stylistic elements, ranging from brilliant sunlight to the deepest depths of obscurity and resemble in that sense the term operatic. The fascinating detail is that no matter how gloomy or hopeless a song seems to be it is never entirely sad or depressive. Just as the other way round, no matter how light and soft, a song seems to be, it is always melancholic. Somehow this seems to be the only rule or perhaps it is rather a sort of band mind-set.


Surussa Uinuva (“Sleeping in Sorrow”)

A seductively banal if not sweet lullaby-like tune may never let you forget the infernal abyss that may come beyond the bridge. From cradle to hell within the blink of an eye. Neither Olli’s screams nor growls leave any doubt of the meanness and void even the most gentle soul can have.

The song deals with depression and the title may also be translated to “In the Embrace of Sorrow”. This illustrates “circumstances may create a bubble that sometimes needs to be popped from outside” as Kaunis Kuolemtaon explain it. Sleep as well as embrace from another angle are conditions no one lightly disturbs as from the outside the both appear peaceful and pleasant. But sleep hides nightmares from outside views, for example. None of that is what the depressive person feels caught inside that bubble, often however feels unable to reach out for help. Kaunis Kuolematon want to raise not only awareness,  even more comprehension and compassion, as they say.

The bubble paradox

Musically, “Surussa Uinuva” reflects being constantly torn apart between the pursuit of lightness or at least normal while equally mirroring the profound black chaos of emptiness, meaninglessness, fear, despair, self-loathing, and loss. Within the depression bubble normalcy loses all it is trivia to become an unachievable glory. Meanwhile from the outside, the bubble looks perfectly normal and there with as trivial as can be.

The deep emotionality of the songs on “Mielenvalta” also describes the desperate struggle to feel something at all, a battle that many depressives face daily. They find themselves entirely detached from any sensation. For them, even the tearing pain this state should normally cause would be a significant progress. Yet, it seems as unattainable as the melancholic sun in Mikko’s voice.

The deceptive hope of a rising tune

Kaunis Kuolematon are masters in arranging seemingly irreconcilable contrasts into harmonious and captivating compositions. They paint audible pictures of the ease of a summer stroll in a flower meadow that never enitely fade, even when they turn in to the cruelest visions of living hell. Nevertheless, Kaunis Kuoulematon are also masters at eliciting a deceptive hope with a rising melody, which is, time and again, ground to dust by screeching guitars and infernal screams. Those who have experienced addiction or depression know the sweet hope that ultimately proves to be a deadly poison.

Mielenvalta” is a compilation of emotions from the deepest to the shallowest ones; all translated into notes and arrangements. Music is emotion. Music influences emotions, and emotions influence music. This basically is the set of genre boundaries, Kaunis Kuolemtaon accept for their music – and I love them for this attitude.

“Mielenvalta” and “Pahatar”

My personal highlights include the incredibly impressive intro of the title track “Mielenvalta” and “Pahatar” with its brutal intensity.

Unlike otherwise on the album, Kaunis Kuolematon do not provide a translation with the title “Mielenvalta“. It translates to “Mind’s Dominion” or “Mental Power” in English. It pushes their rather a frame than boundaries with setting up an Arabian-Nights atmosphere. The intro plays with sensory delusions: human voice or instrument – What begins or ends where and when? It mirrors the title and puts it into a question at the same time. What is within the reach of our metal power? Yet, their versatile play with musical light and night is still seductive even if it suggests that we may not have the metal power we need. An additional voice appears adding to this surreal journey into fairy tale realms. Or is it a nightmare as the brutal doom metal truth crashs into the scene like a hammer into butter.

With Pahatar (Maleficent) we enter the nightmare finally. Evil comes here in all its harsh vocal shades. Cool riff, then interludes slow and rather bright, seductive as Sleeping Beauty’s poisoned apple. No clean singing but a massive blackmetallish atmosphere delievered from the depths of Olli’s soul or rather his guts and throat. It might be the most brutal and rawest song on the album. If the other tracks tempt the listener into questioning the nomination of lead and backing vocals, this song sets them straight. Again, never put Kaunis Kuolematon in any box!


Outstanding vocalists

Mielenvalta” is more extreme in its contrasts than previous albums. It bears the unmistakable signature of Kaunis Kuolematon and yet feels novel. The fresh breeze here is more like a blizzard. Beyond its moving guitar work, the album is replete with wonderful bass lines, compelling drumming, and excellently fitting effects such as keyboards and electric piano. The vocalists are certainly granted a prominent position which in this degree is perhaps unusual to extremer metal genres. As magnificent as the instrumental components are, Olli’s and Mikko’s unique vocal styles and techniques, their diversity, and deep emotional resonance, stand out.

Thank you guys for giving  my own mental bubble prison an audible form.


Mielenvalta is available in digital und several physical forms on Kaunis Kuolematon’s Bandcamp store. 


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