Long revered for its death metal output, Finland has been effectively blowing away the rest of the world with the resurrection of several key legacy acts and a crop of promising newcomers. One recent group that has been making a lot of noise is Maveth, and their debut album, Coils of the Black Earth reveals what all the fuss is about.
While Maveth is labeled as ‘blackened death metal’, their sound is firmly resides in the latter half, with an unabashed, almost steroidal approach to the style. The expected Finnish methods predominate, but American expat and band leader Christbutcher also brings a familiar Stateside sensibility to the work. The result is a viable hybrid of the two, as meaty riffs are executed with the flow and prowess made famous by the Scandinavians. Ultimately, this is still Finnish death metal through and through, with the dirty fuzz guitars, roaring vocals, and double-bass dominated percussion. It’s a model that never seems to get old, no matter how many bands from the region revisit it.
One of the more refreshing elements of this album is Maveth’s penchant for riffs that churn and build rather than rushing through everything with frantic speed. There is plenty of blasting, to be sure, but the music remains controlled and coherent regardless of the tempo. Coils of the Black Earth is an entry that draws from the best of ’90s death metal, before the life was sucked out it by a growing obsession with technical playing. The songs are decidedly dense and lumbering with dissonant harmonies crawling around the margins for added chaos. It would be easy to draw comparisons to early Incantation, since that seems to be the gold standard for now, but it wouldn’t paint a complete picture; the intangible craft of the Finns permeates the material with an atmospheric flair that encourages repeat listens to fully capture the experience.
Maveth also gets points for making relatively long songs without losing momentum. They keep things moving with the “riff sandwich” method of writing, but they are also good at retrieving ideas and making all the parts in the song relevant to one another. Many band are guilty of making linear songs that don’t end up saying much compositionally, but Maveth successfully ties ideas together and makes the asides as interesting as the primary riffs. That’s no small feat for a modern brutal death metal act, considering the well-traveled nature of the style. No, this album was created with careful consideration and the minimum amount of retread. It is in many ways a concept piece, as many of the songs have themes and melodies in common with a sense of continuity from track to track.
There’s no real need to take up a lot of space with descriptive prose when it comes to an release like Coils of the Black Earth. Like all good death metal, its qualities are self-evident; all it takes is to hit “play”. It’s brutal, crushing, dark, and all the other words aficionados love to hear, and the band seems poised to make some serious in-roads into the American market with this one. Kudos to them and Dark Descent for reminding us what it’s all about.
More info: Coils of the Black Earth is out on Dark Descent Records on December 15th.