Förgjord Sielunvihollinen

This is the third full-length from Finnish black metal act Förgjord. The album title, Sielunvihollinen, means "enemy of the soul," and it certainly does its best to become the listener's nemesis. The first track on this combative record is a somewhat subdued, eerie intro featuring cello and pipes layered over an echo-heavy voiceover. Then with "Ei Kuoleman Arvoine," it leaps into raw, harsh black metal. The production values are almost impenetrably low: the drums are muffled, heard as if through layers of cotton, and the guitars rage through a thick, crackling wall of interference. The uniformly harsh vocals have a great deal of reverb and echo effects, making the Finnish group almost completely unintelligible. What saves Sielunvihollinen is its strong melodic structures. The tracks are well put together and surprisingly engaging, with the melodies flowing swift and thick as blood. While this release does much to create an abrasive distance between the listener and the music, it's the melody lines that keep it from being completely alienating, actually inviting the listener into this difficult, ugly soundscape. (Hammer of Hate)