[Artwork by Timo Ketola]
A number of articles have been written over the years detailing Finland’s unique connection to metal. Most of these works have played the numbers game, underscoring the curious truth that no other country boasts more metal bands per capita (54 bands per 100,000 inhabitants, via Slate Magazine in 2013), and others have emphasized the fact that metal is celebrated enough in Finnish culture that Amorphis is considered a radio band and even notable politicians mention its prominence in the midst of White House state dinners. Feel free to dance around any of the major factors contributing to this wonderment—an extraordinary connection to the primitiveness of nature in particular—but the governing factor is quite possibly rooted in the truth that Finns just really seem to get along with darkness. Sure, that’s pretty much the point of 95% of metal music, so the majority of bands are proficient in dealing the shadowy goods, but call back when you’ve spent a lifetime contending with the sort of long winters that force a lightless iron fist into everyone’s face for months at a time.
The songs here are—by the laws of Finnish doom—long, with three hovering between 11 and 13-minutes and the fourth clocking in at a paltry 7:29. That shortest straw is a perfect ice-breaker, though, as “Häxan” delivers an optimal glimpse of the record’s general tempo, temper and smoothness, as well as showcasing a couple traits that help set the band apart from their forebears.
Not sure who’s responsible for that blazing flute solo at the heart of “Häxan,” but Ron Burgundy just pitched a tent for twelve campers. This is the only song that features a wind instrument, sort of unfortunately, but the completely unexpected gang vocals that eventually crop up and really do the trick of differentiating the band also appear on the preceding “The Downfall.” Shouted choruses / verses such as this are… Well, rare enough for this style that I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever heard them used in epic doom prior to Let the Night Come. If they have been used, it wasn’t as effective as they are here, which is testament not only to the band’s creativity, but also to their overall talent for fitting them into the formula so smoothly.
Point of fact, “smoothness” is a key feature attached to The Lone Madman that demands more attention, because these guys exude a sense of fluency normally reserved for bands well beyond a single full-length. The general butteriness of the riffs (heavy enough to rattle molars at times / like a slowly curving python during other stretches), the polished delivery of those wonderfully warm vocals, plus the seamless interplay throughout each transition makes for an exceptionally playable record from start to finish—a certainty nailed home even further by virtue of the full trip clocking in at a perfectly tidy 42-minutes.
Again, the “Häxan” sample is indicative of the overall method, but each song dabbles in different shades and spirits. The opening title track is infectious and “70s witchy” without feeling overly bell-bottomed, “The Downfall” doubles down on a slower, more sinister vibe (with a sweet bluesy nod towards its close), and “House of Mourning” finishes the affair with a strong impression of dark saintliness that eventually gets invaded by a surprising bit of melodic speed before returning to biblical perdition at its end—a fitting period on the very last page of the Let the Night Come story.
No better time to jump into the pleasant embrace of somber Finnish doom than during the chilled days of autumn that slowly lead into winter’s indelible grip. And if you’re looking for something several shades more spirited than, say, the latest Profetus and more in line with the similarly dark works of Chile’s Procession and the aforementioned Reverend Bizarre and Spiritus Mortis, then The Lone Madman just might be your ticket to becoming buried in the obscurity of undying night.
“Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.”