Review: Tulus – Old Old Death

Tulus – Old Old Death (Soulseller Records)
Review by Milos Sebalj

When you read Norwegian Black Metal band, originated in 1991, what do you expect? Let me tell you one thing, I would never expect an album like ‘Old Old Death’! As I must have missed the history lesson where Tulus was explained, I have nothing to go on, except push play and… Well, as it turned out, have quite a good time.

So, how is this album Black Metal when it is not. OK, it is, but not completely. Or mostly it is not. Yes, I’m confusing myself too, thank you very much for asking.

It is quite obvious the trio has grown up with the sounds of the first wave Black Metal blasting out of their speakers. Venom, most notably, along with the Swiss legends, Celtic Frost and Hellhammer, to some extent. I might even add some eastern European influences, like Torr or Root, in ‘weirder’ parts of their Black Metal legacy. And that is just if we speak about the more aggressive side of Tulus. Some second wave is present from time to time, which just goes to show that they have a much broader understanding of Black Metal. Well, they have been part of a couple of other bands somewhere along the road, so they are certainly some old geezers that lost track of music after the ‘80s ended.

Now, for those close minded Metalheads the review should end here. And they would probably rush to find this record and snatch it while it’s still hot. But this is most definitely not the album they want to hear.

The important thing to keep in mind is that Tulus does not stray from the old school Metal. However, they do stray from Black Metal. There is an ever-present Doom Metal web weaving in the background. Just listen to the bass lines and tell me you cannot hear Black Sabbath speaking through. Also, a lot of the album is played in mid tempos, so there’s another show for it. Not to mention that ancient, ritualistic atmosphere which is covering the entire record in gloom. Furthermore, some Norse Folk Rock lurks among all the other influences. From what I understand, the album is thematically revolved around folklore motifs, so I guess it had to have some musical connotation to it, as well. All of these influences made me think of Vulture Industries for a second. Can’t say it is quite a correct comparison, but the feeling is there.

Combining everything I just mentioned into one coherent piece of music must have been a living hell to achieve. Still, a band with almost three decades of existence must be able to cope with such challenges, right? Right! And Tulus absolutely did it. ‘Old Old Death’ is a completely homogenous record, lasting just over half an hour and thus avoiding any chance of becoming boring at any given moment. It is just a matter of musical taste if you would like this album or not. Undeniable truth is that it is one of the most original albums spawned from the first wave of Black Metal.

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