Old Old Death

March 6, 2020


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Tulus and Khold have often blazed similar paths over the last decade, to the point that some of their more recent albums could have easily been released by either group.  In recent years two thirds of Tulus have also collaborated with Nocturnal Culto on Sarke material which has further muddied the waters of black metal and black/thrash.  It’s been awhile since the last album from either group, but now the time has come for Tulus’ sixth record Old Old Death and they’ve stripped things down even further.  Following a path that incorporates equal amount of first and second wave influences alongside a healthy dose of grooves, at times it’s reminiscent of the approach Darkthrone has taken in recent memory.  While it may not prove to be the type of album where individual songs stick out after repeated listens, it is damn fun to listen to and a nice slab of scorching yet catchy black metal that may prove to be just what the doctor ordered.

With both of their bands these guys have always gone for a more straightforward and simple approach that emphasized riffs that had an aggressive bite and a catchy backbone to them, giving off as much of a rock ‘n roll vibe as black metal.  This has been boiled down to its pure elements on Old Old Death, with the entire affair coming in at a brisk thirty-one minutes and the songs often honing in on a particular guitar or bass line that drives everything forward.  You’ve still got plenty of blast beats and tonality that is ripped out of the second wave black metal timeframe, of which Tulus was a part of back in 1991, but there are just as many riffs that recall even earlier elements from the 80s and channel the same type of hooks.  It’s reminiscent of later period Darkthrone in regards to the less is more approach, though the songs here remain a little closer to traditional black metal.  There’s a jagged edge and punchier feel to the riffs that give them some real bite, but even with that being the case the swagger this material has makes the album downright fun to listen to.  With that in mind though, even though the songs go by quickly the similarity of their construction does make them blur together a bit and Old Old Death proves to be the type of record best taken as a whole rather than in bits and pieces.

Blodstrup has been Tulus’ vocalist since the beginning and he has a style that should be familiar to anyone that’s spent time with Norwegian black metal.  His screams are on the raspier side and come through like with extra grit that makes them feel just as abrasive as the instrumentation.  It’s a style that continues to suit the type of stripped down and groove driven material that the band writes, and with the recording given equal emphasis to his performance it is able to stand on its own and consistently grab your attention.  There’s something to be said when this type of pitch can feel like its dragging you across barbed wire from one song to the next and still come across as somewhat catchy.

It’s been almost eight years since the last Tulus album but they’ve come back with a vengeance and delivered black metal that’s able to bludgeon and groove in equal capacity.  It doesn’t quite stand as one of the year’s best, but the catchiness of the riffing ensures that listeners may just find themselves coming back to this one a bit more frequently as the year progresses.  Old Old Death is available from Soulseller Records.

-Review by Chris Dahlberg

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