Tulus - Old Old Death
Soulseller Records
Black Metal
10 songs (31:10)
Release year: 2020
Bandcamp
Reviewed by Goat

The Tulus/Khold duo of bands must be one of the most undervalued black metal explorations in history. Better known for drummer Sarke's Nocturno Culto-fronted side-project of that name, the individuals concerned have been plugging away under either name since the early nineties, exploring pure black metal with an interest in groove and actually utilising the bass guitar to the point where it has equal billing with the guitar and drums in their sound. That almost stoner approach to black metal gave certain Khold releases a fun, rocking air without compromising on aural darkness. Tulus was always the oddity in comparison, moving from pure black metal to the experimental Biography Obscene of 2007, before returning to colder, simpler terrain on 2012's Olm og Bitter. And Old Old Death, the sixth full-length from Tulus, follows on from there, a selection of short, sharp songs that explore black metal groove in their familiar stripped-down style.

There's not much that has changed in eight years. Vocalist Blodstrup has slightly more of a rasp to his voice this time, adding to the darker tone to the album than Olm og Bitter's grey bleakness, and the general strength of the bass and rock-influenced straightforwardness provides an oddly post-punk feel to certain tracks, such as I Havet hos Rån's rhythmic bounciness. Yet the black metal heart of the band beats strongly on the speedier likes of Flukt and Villkjeft with scurrying riffs and blasting drums, and although hardly as experimental as they have been, little touches like the oddly twinkly backing keyboard melody to Folkefall or the acoustic intro to I Hinmannens Hånd make the album even easier to listen to. Tulus are excellent at discovering a groove and mining black metal gold from it; as catchy as the riffing here can be, the rocking Grunn Grav just one example, there's a genuine coldness to the atmosphere that shuts the band off from any hint of mainstream accomplishment. In Memoriam is the most unique piece on the album, exploring a more doomy approach to the riffing that's positively Sabbathian compared to the rest of it, before the second half turns back towards the band's usual groovy blackness.

Those familiar with the site will doubtless have rolled their eyes at seeing this name pop up again; it's easy to be fond of (and have a great deal of respect for) musicians who plug away at a style because they enjoy it and want to make music for its own sake. Yet it was already hard to see much difference between Khold and Tulus output; the former hitting its peak in 2008's Hundre Ar Gammal and Tulus' disappointing rejection of a promising experimental route meaning they're treading water at best. So Old Old Death is pretty much more of the same, but the band are good at it, there's not really anyone else making black metal like this, and fans of the style will enjoy another solid album from Tulus.

Killing Songs :
Jord, I Havet hos Ran, Grunn Grav, In Memoriam
Goat quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Tulus that we have reviewed:
Tulus - Olm og Bitter reviewed by Goat and quoted 72 / 100
Tulus - Biography Obscene reviewed by Goat and quoted 76 / 100
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