Some albums require the tag team approach. The latest (and last) from Cosmic Church certainly pleased a lot of ears among our ranks. Ryan and Manny have the details…
Ryan: Black metal. Scandinavia. The first thoughts that pop into mind are dark, frostbitten atmospheres full of wind-burned tremolo picking and cold, unrelenting blast beats. Icey riffs and frigid, inhuman vocals washing over in a wall of sound like a sonic blizzard blasting over the forest terrains of northern Europe. Atmospheric black metal, however, can be an elusive genre to truly master. The bands are a dime a dozen, and very few greats really stand out amongst the pack. Sure, there’s plenty of serviceable bands out there who have done fantastic work, but the ones that rise above the rest with a full and consistent body of work are rare to come by. That’s part of why the release of atmospheric black metal entity Cosmic Church’s latest album, Täyttymys, comes as bittersweet: It is the final entry in the saga of the one-man band from Finland. Not that project mastermind Luxixul Sumering Auter is out of ideas, in fact Täyttymys proves to be an excellent bookend to the 12-year history of Cosmic Church.
Melodies play back and forth, created largely through the interplay between the guitars and the synths. The bass never feels content, unafraid of exploring the realms created by the songs, particularly on the second track, “Armolahja.” The following piece, “Sinetti,” brings a mood of conflict in its use of bits of dissonance. The synths play a strong role here, sounding like an astral choir calling from plains unknown.
It takes the true mind of an artist to know when a creative project has run its course, so the decision to dissolve a cosmic entity commands respect, especially when ending on such a terrific crescendo. Täyttymys ends with Cosmic Church staying at the top of their realm of cosmic black magic, and it could not be a better exit for such a fine act.
Manny-O-War: When Ryan first asked me to tag-team this review with him I was all, “Bro, we do Death Metal Dossier. We do not fuck with this cosmic black metal shit.” But then I wised up and listened and was like, “Bro, we better hit this shit together or else.” Cosmic Church excels at many aspects of black metal but the one in which he excels the most is atmosphere. The entire album, front-to-back, is layers of foggy, misty, dark, sun-laden, swampy, tropical, dense, thick, dark, virgin, deciduous, primeval, mixed, deep, boreal, whole, open, dry, vast, secondary, green, growth, northern, temperate, ancient, wild, nearby, original, mature, mangrove, beautiful, unbroken, native, moist, swamp, wet, coniferous, heavy, pine, montane, impenetrable, equatorial, coastal, enchanted, extensive, tall, lush, gloomy, humid, royal, closed, magnificent, silent, southern, eastern, tangled, petrified, distant, continuous, primitive, adjacent, neighboring, immense, undisturbed, subtropical, trackless, riparian, rich, neighboring, lonely, sub-alpine, mighty, largest, huge, sacred, fir, cool, luxuriant, etc. This dude just straight KILLS it with the forest adjectives. He also kills it with the instrumentation. Seemingly removed a step or two from clean production, the album has a sheen over it creating a woozy, sedate feeling in the listener.
The vocals are barked impetuously over the more beautiful, melodic backdrop created by criss-crossing guitars and drums smothered in a production sans resonance. The vast majority of the chorus, reverb and resonance is provided by softly laid keys careening over discordant guitars as the implied snow beats against his lonely hovel in the woods. It’s Finnish black metal through and through, providing a canvas upon which to blow your weed smoke and through which to envision an existence that is not only of another time but of another world. Unrelentingly imaginative, Täyttymys forces the listener into a trance — perhaps not a demonic trance but a beautiful, landscape-heavy trance riddled with icy crevasses, snowy white wolves and plenty of unexpected travelers.