Yours truly is a massive fan of Evil 1999 by the ugly Norwegian black metal scumbags collectively known as Tulus, and such foul and deeply atmospheric offerings as Biography Obscene and the compilation entitled Cold Core Collection are also way up there with the very best of them.
Naturally, reviewing the sinister ensemble’s latest slab of musical darkness, more specifically Old Old Death, was high on my list of priorities. Despite the majestic quality of their blackened discography, Tulus has remained somewhat obscure and more of an underground phenomenon. The point that I am trying to make is that Tulus are overlooked and to some extent underrated, but maybe that will change in the future?
What immediately stands out upon listening to their latest creation is that Tulus’ unique sound and their overall aesthetic is still very much intact and that the quartet has not lost its ability to churn out catchy and pitch-black music over the years. After all, the last recorded output by the collective was Olm og Bitter, which dates back to 2012. Again, it sounds like these guys never went away and in many ways, Old Old Death comes across as the natural successor to the aforementioned 2012 LP with respect to its style and content.
There are some truly bone-chilling and vile gems present on the disc, most notably ‘Folkefall’ and ‘I Havet hos Rån’ where the melodies and riffs will make the hair on your sloppy arms stand up. The rumbling (and somewhat groovy) opening salvo consisting of ‘Hel’ and ‘Jord’ is also quite muscular and worthy of praise. The bleak ‘I Hinmannens Hånd’ is arguably the most intriguing and cleverly arranged composition and contains a hypnotic vibe whereas the moody ‘In Memoriam’ spews forth a suffocating sense of melancholy that refuses to let go of you.
Blodstrup’s bitter vocals are as harsh as ever and the riffs are just as punishing and raw as one would expect from Tulus, so no complaints there whatsoever. Perhaps the album’s greatest strength is its uncanny ability to conjure up visions and images in the mind of the listener that range from downright depressing and dismal to strangely claustrophobic and menacing. Old Old Death possesses a dangerously seductive quality and its unsettling vibe is both attractive and abhorrent, which is also emphasized by the sound and production of the record in that it falls somewhere between being organic and relentlessly cold. It is not all-out flawless as the track ‘Grunn Grav’ is forgettable and uninteresting, but other than that, the cursed thing is solid and never really wavers in terms of quality.
If you are on the lookout for innovation or something that is musically revolutionary, this one is most certainly not it. However, if what that warped mind of yours desperately craves is memorable and ominous metal from the Norwegian abyss, then this particular slice of wickedness is just what you need and comes highly recommended. With its ten gloomy cuts and total runtime of thirty-one minutes, Old Old Death is a strong and concise effort stripped of superfluous fat, which is to say that this grim fucker goes straight for the throat and will leave you somewhere terrible, but is that not what we all want and desire anyway when it comes to listening to black metal?
TULUS Old Old Death is set for release 6th March 2020 via Soulseller Records.