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Ruohtta - Sielunsoahti [Raw Black Metal] (Tape - Realm & Ritual - 2022)

Ruohtta - Sielunsoahti [Raw Black Metal] (Tape - Realm & Ritual - 2022)

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Hand-numbered edition of 100 pro-dubbed clear/black cassette with double-sided 3-panel J-card.

Sielunsoahti is about the war of souls in Lapland. It interprets emotions and spirituality residing in the liminal spaces between languages, cultures and mind sets. It sucks in everything negative and repressing and spits out nine black tar apparitions eager to eat the flesh of its recipients.

Second full-length by Ruohtta

Reviews:

"Based in Gällivare in far northern Sweden is raw blackened punk metal act Ruohtta whose sole member Tervaaja composes in a hybrid language of Meänkieli, the collective term for dialects of Finnish spoken in northern Sweden near the Finnish border, and of Sámi, the language of the indigenous people living in Swedish Lapland Formed in 2012, Ruohtta became more active in the last few years, issuing debut album “Gutna” in 2021 and releasing its second album “Sielunsoahti” in early 2022. According to Ruohtta’s Bandcamp page “Sielunsoahti” focuses on a war of souls in Lapland, interpreting emotion and spirituality in the liminal spaces between languages, cultures and mindsets. All the music here was composed and played by Tervaaja who also designed the cover art for the cassette release.

The album has a raw spiky feel though its production is actually very searing and clear, with even the vocals being clear though set far back in the mix and having an oppressive and harsh ghostly quality. The guitars often have a twangy harsh bluesy edge to them which darkens the album’s mood. Percussion is set far back in the mix with a soft sound so the guitars end up being the dominant instruments. Songs are well composed with definite, sometimes even catchy melodies though I doubt Ruohtta, with its interest in black magic, Finno-Ugric mythology, darkness and feeding off negative emotion and feeling, is in the mood to appeal to a commercial metal audience. Nevertheless tracks like “III” and “IV” – of the nine tracks on offer, only the first and the last have actual titles, the rest are numbered – have clear riffs that verge on rock’n’roll and which help to reinforce a gloomy urban blues melancholy that later threatens to become seriously unhinged and deranged. The snarling ghost vocals have a deathly quality yet also appear pained and world-weary.

For music limited in its range of instruments to guitar, percussion and voice, with songs depending on repeating riffs, “Sielunsoahti” works well as a set of very melodic songs with their own identities, moods and dark atmosphere. The harsh, sometimes whining guitar and the equally grating vocals match well though the music can and does drown out the screams and cries. The lack of bass on all tracks, especially “VIII”, allows the bleak darkness to bleed into the songs and become part of them. A folk-like feel is present in the steady beats and matter-of-fact presentation, with all the drama coming from the seething voices as they shriek behind the guitars. A few tracks like “IV” and the closer “Loahppa” are almost completely instrumental and the repeating riffs dominate these songs with perhaps a second guitar melody, cleaner in tone if quieter, playing along as well.

I see this album as being one for Ruohtta’s fans, one not really likely to pick up new fans even though the music is paced well; listeners can follow it and not feel that at any moment the music will speed off leaving them in the dust. The riffs are varied enough that the album rarely becomes boring in spite of elements in the music and its production that could potentially be monotonous. If Ruohtta can continue refining its style and delving more into the cultures of the Sámi and the Finns in northern Sweden cut off from their brethren farther south in Finland, it may well become quite a significant act with a distinct style and sound."

- The Sound Projector

"Ruohtta first got my attention with their second EP, Reetessä, in which they dissected colonialism from a Swedish Sámi viewpoint (and using the Sámi language), one that is rarely seen in black metal (at least not outright) despite the prevalence of the genre in Scandinavia. I also greatly enjoyed their debut full-length, Gutna, but it just barely missed the cut on last year’s AOTY list through no fault of their own. There were just so many great records last year. But with this second offering, Ruohtta has taken on their own definitive sound that edged out my other considerations for this year’s list. There has been a frequent lo-fi sound to this band, and as you can tell from my list so far, I’m a big fan of raw black metal. But the last album just didn’t quite hit in the same way this one does. I think there’s a difference between sounding raw and sounding raw in a way that is extremely purposeful, and Ruohtta has figured out that line and found a way to navigate it with Sielunsoahti that provides the band with their own voice that can only be heard in relation to this band. They have such a distinct message that is rarely heard in the black metal world, and it’s time. Listen to this album, absorb what it's saying, and use the strength from it to motivate you to fight colonialism in any way you can. And while you’re doing that, you can also enjoy these thundering riffs, the demonic vocals, and a drum’s cymbal that is so unique in its usage it sounds like its own instrument."

- Noob Heavy, January 6 2023

All songs and instruments are composed, arranged and performed by Tervaaja
Lyrics are performed in a mixed language of Meänkieli and Sámi
Recorded, engineered and mixed by Tervaaja in Pikkupalo during August & September 2021
Mastered by Jesper Dahlström in October 2021
Cover art/photos by Tervaaja
CD design & layout by Alireza Safaeian

European tape edition by Escafismo Records 2022
American tape edition by Realm and Ritual 2022
CD edition by TormentRex 2022
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