KYPCK (‘Kursk’) are a Finnish Doom(-ish) metal band that sing about Soviet history. If ever there were a justification for a single-line review this is it. While it might be surprising that a Finnish band would even want to engage in such painful subject matter, it is truly embraced with real passion, an interest which apparently goes beyond music. Seriously, check out their website and explore. There’s some great photography, a sample of which covers the front of this album. You can really see what the music tries to capture in the images. The combination of urban exploring, derelict buildings and Soviet history pretty much ensured that I was a fanboy from the start and I was almost scared to switch on the music for fear of disappointment.
I wasn’t. It’s difficult to characterise what this album really is. Sure, there’s elements of doom, but it seems as if KYPCK thought it would be just too easy to simply slap on some old looking photos of abandoned Soviet-era buildings, play one chord every three minutes and call it an epic masterpiece of ‘Neo-Stalinist Depressive Post-Doom Metal.’ No, I guess that just wasn’t in their Five Year Plan. Instead, they opt for something far less obvious. The combination of cross-rhythmic drumming that would make Meshuggah proud, a sandwich of layered guitars crunchy enough to make your teeth fall out and Erkki Seppänen’s (vocalist) occasionally operatic vocals that are totally different to what you’d expect from a doom metal band, all ensure that this band does not fall into Brezhnevite stagnation and keeps our interest right till the end.
What begins as the kind of head-nodding, pounding and intensely satisfying opening that could have come from Katatonia ends up as an atmospheric and emotional journey, treating the subject matter with a lot more sensitivity than most bands might. While it might have been tempting for the band to try to recreate the brutal rhythms of the Soviet-era industrial steel machinery, that’s not what KYPCK do. It’s true that the powerful drumming would not be out of place in Magnitogorsk; the band fortunately do not aim merely to sonically recreate the history of the Soviet Union, something that could possibly have ended disappointingly and in cringes all around.
This album seems to be a reflection on some of the tragedies of the 20th century, with particular poignancy in the album’s (objectively) best song, “Дети Биркенау” (“The Children of Birkenau”). I challenge you not to sway from side to side, sing, cry as this emotionally powerful song takes you from an arms-around-one-another fireside sing-along to an Alcest-esque and upbeat ending. It was obsessively listening to Týr that made me a fluent Faroese singer, and it may well be KYPCK that force me to finally get around to learning Russian.
Back when I first started getting into some of the more thematically oriented realms of metal, my friend (who liked his metal to be ‘serious’) mocked me, saying that I listened to Disney metal, Werewolf metal and Curtain metal. As far as I know these things don’t exist yet, although if they do I’m open to new things. One thing’s for sure though, I’m a fan of KYPCK, and if you want to label them as Soviet Doom metal, then I guess I’m a fan of that too.
01. Пророк [The Prophet]
02. Имя на стене [Name on the Wall]
03. Воскресение [Resurrection]
04. Дети Биркенау [The Children of Birkenau]
05. Грязный герой [The Filthy Hero]
06. Как философия губит самоотверженных, бескорыстных бюрократов [As Philosophy Ruins Unprejudiced, Selfless Bureaucrats]
07. Белорусский снег [Belarussian Snow]
08. Всегда так было [It’s Always Been This Way]
09. Этой песни нет [This Song Is Not]
10. Трос, грузовик и темный балкон [A Rope, a Truck and a Dark Balcony]
E. Seppänen – Vocals
S.S. Lopakka – Guitar
S. Kukkohovi – Guitar
J.T. Ylä-Rautio – Bass
A.K. Karihtala – Drums