without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
From the depths of the Finnish underground Rippikoulu's second demo Musta seremonia, which was originally released independently on tape in 1993, gets a second reissue by Svart Records. When Svart first reissued this behemoth of Finnish doomy death metal in 2010, they touched up the cover art with color. Sensing that murky death metal of this magnitude shouldn't be issued in color, this second reissue, in 2014, brings back the original black and white cover.
Judging by the year of the original release and the band's origin, you should have a fairly good idea what this sounds like. Much like the bulk of early nineties Finnish scene, Musta seremonia twists through layers of crushingly cavernous, primordial death metal, but with a murky, otherworldly sound that no one else really got close to. The guitar riffs are utterly monstrous, ranging from dark and slow trudges into viciously twisted and pummeling blasts. Surging forth and plowing through everything in its wake, the sound on Musta seremonia is the epitome of Finnish death metal; intense and malformed brick walled heaviness.
Deep, throaty bellows drive forth the destructive sound, which despite being a demo, boasts a full bodied sound that most major label acts could only dream of. Sure, the demo was remastered, but there is only so much that a remastering job can really do. The rhythm section, with thundering, rollicking drums and meaty, thick bass lines, accentuates the intense guitar riffs, adding a suffocating element to the already crushing sound. Always dark, Rippikoulu adds haunting keys during slow paced trudges ensure the experience stays uneasy and otherworldly.
Rippikoulu split a few years after releasing this demo, which coincided with the death of one of their guitarists, Marko Henriksson, in 1995. Don't fret too much, though, because the band reformed in 2014 and released an EP Ulvaja, which serves as the band's first release in over twenty years. Musta seremonia is the epitome of Finnish death metal. Recommended to fans of Finnish heavyweights Purtenance and Abhorrence and doom death legends Cianide and Eternal Darkness. Pure, criminally underrated Finnish death metal.
Written for The Metal Observer.
Rippikoulu was such an obscure group that they couldn't even be considered as one of the second/third tier Finnish DM bands like Funebre or Purtenance. For those who have witnessed the repugnancy of the demo, "Musta Sermonia," Rippikoulu remains as a true hidden underground gem, burried deep within years of mainstream culture and modern varieties of Finnish metal. The Fins always had love for the doomy, brooding melodies that they used in their death metal and frankly death/doom is what these guys excel in. If you like the filthy death metal sound of Finland, and if you are used to hearing it, then you'll know damn well what this demo sounds like.
The extremely thick and fuzzy tone applied on the guitars is oppressing enough and when the sluggish, deppresive melodies and atmosphere are added to the already dense combination, the heft of the album becomes unbearably heavy. The riffs are mostly lo-paced death/doom monsters, twisted grotesqueries that stumble and crush everything in their path with incredible heft. Paces vary at times, and become quite entertaining when they all of a sudden turn into vicious blast beats and ultimately enjoyable, headbang-friendly tremolo assaults, though sequences like these are terribly outnumbered by the doomy dirges that enshadow the whole demo. Fortunately, anyone who has already came for sluggish death/doom from this record will just take the lack of tempo variation with a grain of salt. The only thing that stops the demo from reaching absolute perfection, is the lack of originality. If I were listening to a vigorously catchy record with dynamic riffage, I wouldn't mind this flaw at all, but when we're talking about heavy, dark and depressive death/doom, the situation gets abrasive simply because no matter how many times you search the demo you can't find a collosal deviation from the same pervasive sounds, widespread around the demo.
When it comes to flaws, that's the only flaw I can think of. Other than that ''Musta Sermonia'' is absolutely disgusting death metal, unpolished and blunt as a rock. It contains extra striking features such as doomy, brooding melodies, monstrous vocals and an engulfing atmosphere that helps the demo out a lot for the most part, always keeping the listener at the edge of his/her seat no matter how depressing the riffs are. The Finnish death metal masters always have a haunted, repugnant feel to them, but only few can execute it in the way Rippikoulu did, and fewer can be as depressingly ominous.
''Anteeksiannon Synkkä Varjo''
Originally written for Nightmare Reality Webzine.
While other bands during the same era in Sweden and America were respectively pioneering their own sounds, Finland was busy twisting those same ideas into a monstrosity of their own. One of these bands was also one of the first, Rippikoulu. While this release is a demo, the sound quality is actually quite listenable, every instrument audible and heavy as fuck. This band had some of the most crushing production out of all their Finnish contemporaries.
The guitars are sluggish and depressing while still being very headbangable, although at a snail's pace. The drums also create a very suffocating atmosphere, and the vicious and deep vocals tear you to shreds. The band does have their moments where they go into full blasting speed, and when that happens prepare to be pulverized. This demo being one of the more unknown releases in death metal, is still considered a minor classic and an inspiration among the Finnish scene. Sadly this demo would go on to be overshadowed by the more popular releases from Demigod, Convulse, and Demilich.
The only gripe I have with this demo is that some songs feel like they drag on for too long, and there is rarely sometimes a lack of variation during riffs. That isn't much of a problem as the riffs are quite amazing in their own putrid and sluggish way.
Out of all the countries that were releasing great death metal throughout the 80’s and early 90’s, it’s safe to say that Finland were, by far, one of the best. Not only did you have albums such as ‘Slumber of Sullen Eyes’ and ‘World Without End’ taking the underground by storm, but you also had the more obscure bands, such as Purtenance Avulsion and of course the mighty Rippikoulu, who were also releasing excellent, dark death metal. But following the hideous demise of death metal in 1994, these bands would soon be forgotten, and Rippikoulu were unfortunately one of these bands.
The production on Musta Seremonia is a big step up from the extraordinarily raw ‘Mutaation Aiheuttama’ demo released just one year prior. Rather then the static-laden filth that engulfed the previous recording, the sound on here is very, VERY, dark, ethereally cavernous, and crushing. Everything is mixed adequately enough to allow each instrument to stand on its own, but the way each instrument is intertwined in the mix creates an enveloping effect, which will surely draw you in on the first listen and not let go until the 32-minute running time has come to an end. The overall mix is very bass-heavy, which helps put emphasis on the crushing riffs and that chunky, yet eerie, guitar tone. This is not one of those nothing-but-mud demos though, as there is enough high-end to give the demo a full and textural sound and please even the wimpiest of ears.
As for the music itself, well it’s just some of the darkest death metal these ears have ever heard. The atmosphere this band creates come from a number of key elements that make Musta Seremonia the masterpiece that it is. Tempo-wise, this band is pretty versatile. The rhythms on here range from crawling, sluggish DOOM, to mid-paced chugs, to grinding mayhem. However, no matter the tempo, they retain the same level of intensity throughout the recording, and it never ceases to captivate me. The guitars and bass are very down-tuned, and the riffs generally stay on the lower side of the fret board, creating an endless barrage of chaotic sludge that works effortlessly to pummel the listener into the ground with every chord being struck. The vocals coincide with the guitars and bass perfectly, as they also don’t leave the lower register. But they do occasionally stray beyond the guttural, demonic bellows these guy would belt out though, at times using the signature Beherit-like whisper technique, or others a more mid-range howl. And occasionally, an additional vocal track will come into the mix to emphasize one or two words, or just the end of a vocal line. A perfect example of this would be in “Kuolematon Totuus”, where this effect is put to great use. The drumming is quite simple, never doing anything too flashy, but they still do an excellent job of what they’re intended to do, which is to completely obliterate anything and everything that comes in its path. This guy really does not fuck around. Occasionally, a synthesizer will make its way into the mix, playing with an ethereal and darkly angelic effect that just adds to the overall eeriness of the recording. But like everything else, this is done to a degree of perfection, which means they don’t overdo the synths, which would ultimately make the use of them sound cheesy and forced.
This demo is a perfect relic of the once-was-excellent Finnish death metal scene, and it will hopefully continue to be praised as the classic that it is by those who are lucky enough to hear it. The only thing missing from this demo actually has nothing to do with the music at all – it’s the fact that there hasn’t been an official reissue of it yet. Some respectable label out there needs to get its head of its ass and jump on the mightiness that is Musta Seremonia. And by respectable label, I don’t mean some shitty bootleg garbage - I mean Iron Pegasus, Nuclear War Now!, Hells Headbangers, etc. Now THAT would be something to write home about.