Album Review – Coldbound / The Gale (2018)

Living is an act of courage, and this Melodic Death Metal act from Sweden has the perfect soundtrack for that.

Founded by Greek multi-instrumentalist Pauli Souka in 2012 in Vantaa, a city in Finland that is part of the inner core of the Finnish Capital Region along with Helsinki, Espoo, and Kauniainen, but currently located in Hudiksvall, a Swedish city also known as Glada Hudik due to its hospitality and social life, the heavy-as-hell metal unity known as Coldbound returns with a brand new opus titled The Gale, their first Melodic Death Metal album to date. If you got used to the Black Metal-inspired approach of their previous releases such as their 2015 album Rites Under Moonlight, get ready to be stunned by the new Coldbound, sounding more polished, doomed, darker and, therefore, being highly recommended for fans of Insomnium, Draconian, Swallow The Sun and Wolfheart, among other excellent Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal acts.

Featuring the aforementioned Pauli Souka on vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards and programming, accompanied by Swedish artist Paulina Medepona (also known as Satana Lucia, and who was also responsible for the incredible and obscure album art) and Finnish keyboardist Andras Miklosvari, the concept behind The Gale focuses on memories of nostalgia and personal struggles, having the purpose of raising the awareness of those who suffer from depression, those who have suicidal thoughts or those who feel lonely. The motto of the album, repeated continuously on the song “Shades of Myself” and displayed on the digipak version of it, is “living is an act of courage”, with the album’s lyrics being mostly inspired by personal struggles and somehow promoting optimism through dark times. Such important message  only gets stronger and stronger as the music progresses, showcasing all the talent and hard work of Pauli and his crew and placing them as one of the most interesting names of the current underground scene.

In the intro 61° 43′ N 17° 07 E, which by the way are the coordinates for a point in Hudiksvall, the soothing sound of rain and an ethereal vibe suddenly explode into a feast of extreme music, setting the stage for The Invocation, highly inspired by the dark and pensive music by Insomnium and with Pauli firing his anguished growls while at the same time keeping the music mournful with his Doom Metal-like beats. Needless to say, the song’s lyrics exhale poetry (“Dark is the night, and the veils are drawn of shadows / Dark is the day, while the sun is no longer awake / The sun is calling for your dawn / These words colour countless shades I shall revoke beyond these shores / And drink your fading crimson tear”), and heaviness keeps pounding our heads in the also obscure but very melodic Endurance Through Infinity, where the guitar lines bring a touch of epicness from Folk and Viking Metal, with Pauli making sure we crack our necks in half headbanging to the song’s crushing rhythm.

Enhancing the impact and delicacy of their music thanks to the keyboards by Andras and the stunning vocals by Paulina, Coldbound deliver a touching creation titled The Eminent Light, where the melancholy flowing from the guitars create an interesting paradox with its doomed beats; followed by the title-track The Gale, which kicks off in full force with its Black Metal blast beats and an enfolding atmosphere. Furthermore, this is probably Pauli’s most demonic mode from the entire album, blasting infernal growls and scorching riffs during the whole song, as well as thunderous and dense bass lines. Then we have the fantastic My Solace, with its lyrics taken from the poem book of Kostas Karyotakis titled “Nostalgia” (“My solace will be seen – by scars upon my heart / My solace will be told – by letter of remorse / The bitter greet – a cold farewell / The olden sorrows – that ignite again”). Andras once again brings tons of flavor to the musicality with his keys, while Pauli gives a lesson in dark, melancholic and gripping Melodic Death Metal, flowing majestically until its astounding finale.

Winters Unfold is another neck-breaking creation by Coldbound, with its rhythm and vibe once again presenting hints of Folk Metal and with the strident guitars by Pauli going along flawlessly with his growls; whereas in Shades Of Myself a promising start solidifies into a classic Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal tune, as polished and vibrant as we can expect from a band like Coldbound, and once again with Pauli adding a good amount of intricacy to the overall sound through his beats. Lastly, how about an 11-minute aria of melodic and obscure extreme music entitled Towards The Weeping Skies to conclude the album? In this journey through the dark, the vocals by Pauli get to a point where they can be considered “anguished whispers”, not to mention the outstanding phantasmagorical keys in the background. Hence, you’ll be hypnotized by Pauli’s guitar lines before the music fades into a gentle and touching outro, accompanied by the sound of a heavy and gorgeous tempest.

The Gale is available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, but if I were you I would definitely show my honest support to such distinct act by purchasing the album from their own BandCamp page or Big Cartel (in digipak format or as a digipak + shirt bundle), from iTunes, or from Amazon. Also, don’t forget to pay Coldbound a visit at their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and let their comforting darkness embrace you. If living is an act of courage as Coldbound say, then The Gale might be the perfect soundtrack for that tough but always rewarding adventure.

Best moments of the album: Endurance Through Infinity, The Gale and My Solace.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Moonlight Productions

Track listing
1. 61° 43′ N 17° 07 E 2:40
2. The Invocation 5:22
3. Endurance Through Infinity 7:15
4. The Eminent Light 5:36
5. The Gale 7:35
6. My Solace 7:18
7. Winters Unfold 5:35
8. Shades Of Myself 5:36
9. Towards The Weeping Skies 10:58

iTunes/Amazon bonus track
10.The Eminent Light (Instrumental) 5:32

Band members
Pauli Souka – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, programming

Guest musicians
Paulina Medepona – vocals on “The Eminent Light”
Andras Miklosvari – keyboards on “The Eminent Light”, “The Gale”, “My Solace” and “Winters Unfold”, orchestrations

Metal Chick of the Month – Emmi Silvennoinen

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Aina sydämessäin oon… Neito pohjolan…

Brothers of the North, sharpen your swords and axes, grab your war hammers and shields, paint your faces with the colors of your Norse clans and be prepared to bleed in the battlefield fighting side by side with our Metal Chick of the Month, the lionhearted Finnish warrior Emmi Silvennoinen, former keyboardist for Finnish Epic Folk Metal band Ensiferum. If you dig Scandinavian girls and are also crazy for electrifying fighting chants, Emmi will certainly drive you moonstruck.

Born on April 9, 1988 in the city of Vantaa, Finland, the fourth most populated Finnish city and also part of the inner core of the Finnish Capital Region along with Helsinki, Espoo, and Kauniainen, Emmi stepped in as the keyboardist for Ensiferum for their live performances following the departure of Meiju Enho in September 2007, until she finally joined the band as their permanent keyboard player for the recording of the album From Afar, in 2009.

Before becoming part of Ensiferum’s metallic army, our gorgeous Scandinavian shieldmaiden was the keyboardist for a Finnish Melodic Death/Gothic Metal band named Exsecratus, from Helsinki, with whom she recorded the demo Execute, in 2006, and the full-length album Tainted Dreams, in 2007. Although the band doesn’t exist anymore, you can still enjoy Emmi’s impassioned keyboard notes embellishing the band’s sounding in interesting songs such as Under the Winter Moon, My Last Fight and Suicide. As you can see, Emmi used to play a completely different style than her work with Ensiferum, but that doesn’t mean her excellent skills behind the keyboards were less important or less effective for the music by Exsecratus.

As aforementioned, our Finnish “valkyrja” joined Ensiferum back in 2007 as the band’s keyboardist for all their upcoming live performances when in 2009 she finally got the full-time job with them, recording her first single with Ensiferum called From Afar, which is also the name of her first full-length album with the band, from 2009. From that album, one of the most interesting tracks is Twilight Tavern, which official video features live footage from the famous venue Nosturi, located in Helsinki. After that strong start, Emmi also recorded with Ensiferum the singles Stone Cold Metal (2010) and Burning Leaves (2012), the full-length album Unsung Heroes (2012), the fun Suomi Warmetal EP (2014), and more recently the full-length album One Man Army (2015).

Among all Ensiferum songs that could be used to present Emmi’s solid skills as a musician, I believe the title-track of their latest album, One Man Army, is a very good example of what she’s capable of doing. In addition, why not grab a cold beer and enjoy the sound of her keyboards in their cover versions for the all-time classics Wrathchild (Iron Maiden) and Breaking The Law (Judas Priest)? Despite the fact both original songs do not have any keyboard parts at all, she managed to add her own notes to the music, enhancing their uniqueness compared to all other cover versions for those two songs you might find anywhere.

Emmi hasn’t been in many parallel projects apart from her full-time commitment with Ensiferum, except for playing keyboards in the album Hymns of the Mortals – Songs from the North (2014) by Finnish Melodic Death Metal band Thyrien. Again, the musicality crafted by Thyrien is quite different from the Folk Metal by Ensiferum, as you can see in the excellent tune When The Horizon Burns, once again showcasing Emmi’s versatility and ability to adapt to what the music is asking for.

One very important detail about Emmi’s natural aptitude for music is that she doesn’t only play regular keyboards in her life and career, but she can also play the Hammond organ, the pump organ, the regular organ and the piano, not to mention she was also doing the backing vocals in all songs by Ensiferum. If that doesn’t prove to you how dexterous our charming keyboardist is, I honestly have no idea what really would.

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Due to the fact that Emmi was a live musician for a good couple of years with Ensiferum, I thought it would be nice to have some words from our diva regarding her life on the road, her opinion about the importance of live performances to a metal band, or anything similar to that. Fortunately, I was able to find an interview where, when asked about the differences between playing at a big festival and playing at small venues, she gave a short and sweet explanation of the importance of festivals to bands like Ensiferum. “There are usually more people who hasn’t heard of our music, and festivals are a place to show all we got”, she said, and let’s admit she’s absolutely right about that.

Furthermore, if you’re either a fan of Emmi and the music by Ensiferum or if you’re a newcomer to the world of Epic and Folk Metal, you can enjoy Emmi kicking ass on her favorite place on earth, which is on a festival stage together with the other members of the band, playing songs such as Windrider (at With Full Force XV, Germany, 2008), Lai Lai Hei and Token Of Time (both at Wacken Open Air, Germany, 2008), or even Ensiferum’s full performance at the RockHard Festival, in Germany, on May 18, 2013.

However, in the past few years Emmi was unfortunately forced to sit out of some of Ensiferum’s tours around the world for personal reasons (which were not disclosed anywhere), culminating in her definite departure from the band in April this year. In 2013, she missed the band’s South American tour which was scheduled to start on May 28 in Bogota, Colombia, with her parts being replaced by backing tracks as per a statement released by the rest of the group. And in the beginning of 2015 Emmi couldn’t make it to Ensiferum’s European and North American tours, when she was replaced by the digital accordion of Netta Skog (ex-Turisas). “This was a very tough decision for me to make to not be a part of the European and North American tours, but I am so happy that not only an amazing musician will be standing in for me, but also a close friend. I hope you all enjoy the shows and the new songs with Netta – I’m looking forward to returning to play them for you in the summer!”, she stated, showing her relationship with the band was more than perfect at that time. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get back in action due to family reasons, being replaced permanently by Netta.

Lastly, I wish there were more interviews (both written and on YouTube) with Emmi to be shared with all of you, but it looks like she’s either more reserved than the other members of the band, or that interviewers all over the world are wasting some amazing opportunities to ask a few questions to such a unique musician. Anyway, if you speak Finnish you might have a good time with this interview to a Finnish channel called MoonTV (I couldn’t understand almost anything, obviously), and if you’re a fan of radical sports you can check Emmi and the other members of Ensiferum going paragliding in the valleys of Slovenia after their concert at Metaldays, held in Tolmin, Slovenia in 2013. Adrenaline has always been the perfect catalyst for good heavy music, don’t you think?

“It’s nice to see Scandinavian folk metal bands, especially Finnish bands, are doing well all around the world. I’m proud to be part of this, and it’s nice to see people are loving this kind of music, and getting inspirations from Scandinavian bands for their own music and all their lifestyles.” – Emmi Silvennoinen