In 1989, in Finland, Timo Kontio, Teemu Saari and Kena Strömsholm formed Cardinal, a death metal band that would later take on various other monikers, record some demos, and disappear off the face of the earth.
In 2019, now called Festerday and with a new rhythm section in tow, they’ve released their debut album. Thirty years on, iihtallan is the world’s first full-length introduction to a band who, on this evidence, have a great deal to offer.
After all, how could a band with the song titles ‘Edible Excrement’, ‘Vomiting Pestilence’ and ‘Your Saliva My Vagina’ – me neither – be expected to unleash their debut quietly?
Yes, this is death metal alright. All the graphic imagery, unapologetic gore and questionable themes are present and correct; so, too, are the riffs.
From the off, iihtallan packs a furious stomp that’s impossible to resist. The clarity of production is the quiet triumph of this album. It allows the gruesome guitar lines to take centre stage in the noise, and it lends a modern taste to a record whose most mouthwatering flavour is distinctively old-school.
Pace isn’t the only thing on the menu. The pounding aggression that lives in its fallow spells is just as effective, and the two elements mesh together beautifully.
‘Control Not Your Soul’ is a highlight, pairing face-melting fury with arse-wiggling groove, and the album has two diptychs that more than justify the indulgence.
‘Flowers Of Bones’ is followed by the stunning ‘Flowers Of Stones’ and together they form another peak. ‘Let Me Entertain Your Entrails, Pt. 1’ and ‘Let Me Entertain Your Entrails, Pt. 2’ round off the record in typically colourful fashion.
Crucially, there’s just no fat on iihtallan. None. Nothing. Just power and hooks and headbanging for days.
iihtallan is out now on Season Of Mist.