Wes had been a quite big fan of AJATTARA's debut "Itse" and despite his big complaint that they completely sing in Finnish, they did not give much of a damn and continue to growl and scream at us in a language that we would not even understand, if cleanly sung… But at least they print their lyrics, not that it really helped anything anymore, but still!
I do not know "Itse", but from what I could read, "Kuolema" continues more or less where the debut had left off, with slow to mid paced Black Metal, which is something pretty rare as we do not get any blasts or something of the likes, overall very melodic, with only Ruoja's harsh voice (I seem to learn here that "laulu" means something like vocals or so) putting them distinctly into that genre.
"Antakaa Elää" kicks the album into motion and surprised me quite a bit with the melodies and the well dosed use of keyboards and even more by the fact that you could actually understand the title in the chorus! Yes, I could! The songs altogether are all around the 3 minute mark, so no extravagant symphonic bombast orgies or the likes, but straight to the point, with straight being an attribute that works well, when you try to describe the sound of AJATTARA.
A song like "Haureus" plods along steadily and "Ikiyössä" for the first time brings us some clean vocals to complement the harsh rasp and also brings some very good melodies, good one, just like "Kituvan Kiitos" and the closing "Rauhassa", again with some excellent clean vocals.
So in the realm of Black Metal AJATTARA definitely are something special as they do not go over mid tempo at all and still maintain their heaviness and melodies, so even though I am not as enthusiastic as Wes back then, I still say that "Kuolema" is an album worth going for! (Online June 2, 2003)