Ajattara - Itse
Spikefarm Records
Black Metal
10 songs (38:06)
Release year: 2001
Ajattara, Spikefarm Records
Reviewed by Joe
Archive review

Itse (meaning roughly to refer to yourself) is indeed the debut album from Finnish band Ajattara, which for the trivia buffs is an evil god of the forest in Finnish mythology (for extra points the female form of that deity is Ajattar). Formed by former Amorphis vocalist Pasi Koskinen (going under the pseudonym Ruoja) around 1996, it was around 2001 where the album saw the light. Ever been walking through a Finnish, sinister looking forest on your own at night, with thousands of nocturnal creature's eyes peering at you beyond the gloom? No, me neither, but if I was, Itse would be the quintessential soundtrack to that activity. This album, if nothing else, is just pure evil in its entirety. Slight repetitiveness, same chords used over and over again, very un-melodic...yes it's all there, but at the same time I see this album kinda like a soundtrack, something that's not too strong on its own, but the imagery it produces and the soundscapes produced by the haunting keyboards really are something to take note of.

Ruoja's vocals are something out of a nightmare, truly the most evil and sinister I've ever heard. "But what about those Norwegian black metal guys?!" I hear screamed at me. No, those guys sound stupid, something like a mix of a kettle coming to the boil and a cat screeching. Ruoja sounds like he doesn't even have to try, he doesn't have to wear silly makeup and spikes to appear evil, he just oozes the stuff. Sung entirely in Finnish gives that aspect a great boost. Obviously I don't speak Finnish, but the words sung are decipherable, something I applaud with death growls, being able to sing like that and still understand the words is not something everyone can do, but Ruoja does it extremely well. There are the odd clean vocal passages here and there, which I think if used a lot more could have made the album slightly better.
Now the music. Something like a mix of black metal mixed with doom could be the best description of Ajattara. Basically all the songs are 3-5 minute, simple but effective metal tunes. The songs themselves don't have too much variety in them, but that in itself just works. The tracks might just be good ol' downtuned, simple metal songs, but that shouldn't suggest they aren't good. Ajattara know what they are and they deliver them with great conviction. Take the keyboards out of the picture and your left with not much, such is the role of the keyboards within the music. The album doesn't rely on them, but they provide such spine chilling notes and melodies that the "evil" factor is boosted ten fold.

Not really much point in describing the songs (no it's not me being lazy) because they all have a similar sound and structure to them, although the last track is more of an outro. Some might be put off by the repetitiveness of the entire album but I dunno, somehow it just works. All that and a fantastic album cover by Dark Tranquillity's guitarist Niklas Sundin, which couldn't sum up the album's feelings any more. Looking for something which is nothing more than pure evil, minimalist, dark metal? Then look no further.

Killing Songs :
All good, but nothing stands out of the crowd
Joe quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Ajattara that we have reviewed:
Ajattara - Murhat reviewed by Charles and quoted 75 / 100
Ajattara - Noitumaa reviewed by Charles and quoted
Ajattara - Kuolema reviewed by Crims and quoted 83 / 100
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