Svart Records: Vainaja + Profetus + Rippikoulu

Svart Records
Svart Records

Reviews by Jason Guest

Svart Records feature time and again in these pages, and with good reason (click here for an ever-growing list). Death, doom, folk, prog, esoteric, spiritual, electronica, the label knows no bounds, only that of quality. All hailing from Finland, we have four more releases from the luscious label:

  • From Vainaja comes their debut full-length, Kadotetut
  • Profetus bring us their third album, As All Seasons Die
  • And from Rippikoulo, a band thought to be long departed, come two releases, Musta Seremonia and Ulvaja

Read them all or click on the names above to go their respective reviews.

Vainaja – Kadotetut

Release date: 3 May 2014

The debut release from Finland’s Vainaja recounts a series of events that took place in 19th Century Finland that historians, perhaps, would wish never happened or would at best be forgotten about. Telling of an evil cult (no surprise there), three of its blaspheming devotees who practiced their own religion involving sacrificial murder and live burial were eventually condemned to being scorched to death for their nefarious activities (more details here). And so, not only have the aged texts and hymns of this cult been carefully transcribed into song, but the three members have adopted the monikers of the troublesome trio. Enter The Gravedigger, The Cantor, and The Preacherman.

Influenced by 90s death and doom, the ritual begins with church bells, an acoustic guitar, and gentle keys creating an eerie opener that indicates that something’s not quite right. And as beautiful and intriguing as it is, ‘Lankeemus’ is not an invitation. It’s a warning. Dense, distorted, and death-like, Kadotetut is brimming in glorious riff after riff and laced with enough hooks to impale an entire village of unbelievers. After three tracks of devastating doom appears ‘Henkikaste’, an atmospheric ambient instrumental with a few eerie samples that you’d think would offer a respite but compounds the ominous nature of this beast. And where albums are prone to lose steam after four or five tracks, Kadotetut actually improves. The evil menace of penultimate track ‘Viimeinen Tuomio’ becomes increasingly ominous as it emerges from a sinister quiet and evolves into a doom-heavy nightmare, and the closing instrumental ‘Kadotettu’, its slow build from a solitary clean guitar to something dark and majestic, providing the most chilling and disturbing experiences of them all.

With vocals shared by all three band members – sorry, cultists – the lyrics, even to non-Finnish speakers, take on an evil air much more potent than they perhaps would have been had they been delivered in any other language. Produced by Dan Swanö, the album’s sound is colossal and so its impact – musically and its subject – is made all the more effective. An impressive debut that is as heavy as its source material, it’s well worth checking out.

Vainaja – Kadotetut7.5 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Lankeemus
  2. Väärän Ristin Valtakunta
  3. Kahleiden Kantaja
  4. Valon Lapset
  5. Henkikaste
  6. Verinen Lahde
  7. Risti Kädessäni
  8. Viimeinen Tuomio
  9. Kadotettu


Profetus – As All Seasons Die

Release date: 13 June 2014

Solemn and meditative, the opening track of the third album from Finland’s Profetus is a haunting four minutes. A gently strummed acoustic guitar and a chilling organ are decorated by a choral vocal and a brief lyric, and the tone for As All Seasons Die, album number three from these funereal doom mavens, is set. Over the remaining thirty five minutes, doom-heavy riffs are heaved from the guitars, exclamations and underscores are hammered out of the drums, melancholy and dread are majestically summoned from the keys, and the world collapses as Profetus drag us from the close of summer into the warm embrace of winter’s cold consolation. With the instrumentation given space to breathe its dense breaths into the vast emptiness to which the listener must surrender themselves, to listen is to commit oneself to mourning, anguish, and sorrow. A heavy slab of funereal doom, Profetus have delivered all that you’d expect of this kind of band.

Profetus – As All Seasons Die7 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. The Rebirth Of Sorrow
  2. A Reverie (Midsummer’s Dying Throes)
  3. Dead Are Our Leaves Of Autumn
  4. The Dire Womb Of Winter


Rippikoulu – Musta Seremonia

Release date: 13 June 2014

After the death of guitarist Marko Henrikkson, Finland’s Rippikoulu ceased to be in 1995, leaving behind only two demos, the second of which is this, 1993’s Musta Seremonia, one of the early Svart releases of 2010 now seeing a re-issue due to its underground value. Another of those “best kept secrets”, this is death/doom with a capital – and deadly – “DOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!” Unfeasibly dense riffs, an unfeasibly sharp snare, and unfeasibly harsh vocal, and an unfeasibly dense distortion draped over absolutely everything, its atmosphere is oppressive and its impact colossal.

Dark and cavernous, the bass-heavy mix augments the dense nature of each track, whether in the slow torturous passages or on the rare occasion that the tempo moves up beyond that of a snail carrying some very heavy luggage. Though the band do venture into faster tempos, blastbeats, and trem-picked riffs, it’s not enough to give the album as much diversity as it could have allowed. While the uptempo passages are savage, the doomy dirge that Rippikoulu were clearly adept at is abrasive, pummelling, and crushing. It may lack variation here and there and feel dated from time to time, but Musta Seremonia is, after twenty one years, still a disgusting slab of ruthless death-infused doom.

Rippikoulu – Musta Seremonia7 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Kadonneet Jumalat
  2. Kuolematon Totuus
  3. Ikuinen Piina
  4. Anteeksiannon Synkkä Varjo
  5. Pimeys Yllä Jumalan Maan
  6. Musta Seremonia


Rippikoulu – Ulvaja

Release date: 13 June 2014

Well, it seems that the ex-parrot Rippikoulu was actually resting after all, a shipment appearing at Svart’s offices in early 2014 bearing the band’s emblem signalling the band’s return. All the trademarks of Musta Seremonia are there but this time refined by a much better production and a distinct improvement in song writing. Drowning in despair and doom and gloom, the band’s signature sound remains of course, but there’s a tighter control here that displays a maturity in their approach. Their return is a welcome one. Maybe there’s an album on the horizon to show us what we’ve been missing.

Rippikoulu – Ulvaja7.5 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Jää hyvästi kaunis kesä
  2. Loputon
  3. Ulvaja