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Strange as it may sound to us today, there was a time when writing lyrics in any language other than English was the equivalent to artistic suicide for a foreign Metal band.

Back in 1990 it was a group of pretty brave musicians who decided to put together Rippikoulou – a Doom/Death Metal combo whose lyrics were written and performed exclusively in Finnish, the members’ native language.

While the first few attempts towards breaking through to a wider market were made in the form of two demo tapes, the death of founding guitarist Marko Henriksson led to the band disbanding back in 1995.

Two decades later and with a new line-up, Rippikoulu have finally managed to release their first ever proper studio recording in the shape of the three-track E.P “Ulvaja”.

As with all Finnish Metal bands, atmosphere and melody play a prominent role in the music on offer, and it is indeed a pretty bleak and emotionally-charged ‘picture’ that the members of Rippikoulu are trying to ‘paint’ here.

Keen on using low register growls than proper intonated vocals, Anssi Kartela is a rather commanding figure while guitarist Olli V adds a number of simple but massive-sounding slow/heavy riffs into the mix. Add to that layers of moody atmospheric keys and the odd female choral chant and what you get in return is a simple-sounding but fairly enjoyable release.

Songs like the opening track “Jaa Hyvasti Kaunis Kesa” make an instant impression and witness one of the few occasions where mesmerising female vocals and atmospheric piano melodies succeed in taking the focus from Anssi Kartela’s commanding performance.

Slightly faster in tempo and building around a repetitive guitar harmony “Loputon” is a charming but somewhat predictable Black Metal composition while the closing eight and a half minute same-titled “Ulvaja” signals a return to the Doom-laden atmospheric riffs of the opening track, thus help this album, in a sense, come full circle.

An experienced music fan would have a valid point in claiming that the three compositions that put together “Ulvaja” are not unique to the genre that Rippikoulu have chosen to serve but this does not suggest that the band’s first truly professional recording has nothing good to offer.

Passion and skill are not absent here and I, for one, am fairly convinced that these lads can go a long way if they are given enough support by both their label and the music media.

A convincing and solid first effort that certainly deserves your attention.

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