A stunning, arguably canonical debut, Fall of the Idols’ The Womb of the Earth remains a doom high-water mark. Though hardly an uplifting contribution, “Sown are the Seeds of Doom” remains a Soundtrack of 2006 mainstay. Jyrki Hakomaki sounded every bit the charismatic doom vocalist—soulful, pensive, and searching. And that, coupled with the infectious riffs of Tommi Turunen, Rami Moilanen, and Jouni Sihvonen, was more than enough to cement Fall of the Idols as a top-tier doom band among the many great doom bands at that time.
The aforementioned “Vicissitudes” is to 2022 what “Sown are the Seeds of Doom” was to 2006. At least that’s how my ears hear it. Its delicate dance is so characteristically Fall of the Idols—the band couldn’t have picked a stronger or more fitting song to open their surprise fourth album, Contradictory Notes. It is Fall of the Idols distilled into nine perfect minutes and the fact that Weckman’s drums are all over it gives it a certain quality or force that the record’s three other songs admittedly lack. Despite a fairly consistent and unwavering tone, the nine minutes feel more like three or four. This is as close to ear candy as the band will likely get.
“Wail of the Serfs,” on the other hand, is the most surprising of the four tracks. Of course, “Vicissitudes” is a tough act to follow. But it’s more than that. There is a jarring, almost confrontational feel that is far removed from the band’s generally ethereal sound. I admit to being turned off by this outlier at first, though I grew more appreciative of its hypnotic quality, particularly the addicting chorus.
The title track is a bit of a return to form—“a bit” because a not insignificant chunk of “Wail of the Serfs”-type aggression is present, though the band channels it more successfully here. Things get especially fun around the eight-minute mark. I can’t say that I expected the thrashier noodling but it does give the song some bite. Yet another song that left me a bit perplexed at first but quickly won me over with repeat listens.
Finally, “Thought Virus”—a quintessential Fall of the Idols tune—is the perfect album closer. As impressive as the guitars are here, Hakomaki’s vocals are nothing short of mesmerizing, riding the undulating swing of the riffs in remarkably smooth fashion. If celebratory depression were a thing, the band would have captured it here. Though I hope it’s not true, there’s something about this song that feels like a final statement. There’s an undeniable magic quality to it that pulls you in fast.
I don’t think I was alone in my surprise that Fall of the Idols was treating us to a fourth album in 2022. Maybe it was because 2022 was an especially predictable year in metal—most of its strongest albums came from veteran bands, after all. Or maybe it was because Solemn Verses didn’t seem as well-received as The Séance or The Womb of the Earth, and so much time had passed since. Either way, I was shocked to learn that Contradictory Notes was in fact a thing and that this thing was now available as a surprise drop of sorts. It should come as no surprise, however, that Fall of the Idols is every bit the top-tier doom band now that they were then. Though I sincerely hope that this is not the last we hear from the band, if it were, they could rest easy knowing that it quite easily measures up to their first three records.