When I heard the first Lopullinen Kela EP, I was intrigued. I will freely admit that I’ve been away from the drone scene for a while, and after listening to it, I was reminded of why I love drone so much. Because it takes inspiration from everything and explores the imagination of the musician to an extent that a lot of melodic music can’t, although melodic is probably not the right word as some drone music can be incredibly melodic. So when I was offered the chance to review the second Lopullinen Kela EP, I leapt at it as Empuu Venorian had managed to give such a great output the first time around, so I was eager to hear the second offering.
We start with “Into the Ward”, an opening track that pretty much sets the scene for the second EP. Crashing ambient noise is joined by feedback and a wall of guitars, all with synth underlying each and every deliberate crash and bang. The noise eventually resolves itself into something approaching a calmness of sorts, but this is the kind of calmness that is found at the start of a horror film. All the different elements repeat in a drone fashion until the end of the track, managing to both be minimalist and expansive at the same time, before abruptly all bowing out.
“Insertion” is track two, and if Into the Ward was the start of a horror film, Insertion is the tension-ratcheting ambient piece where the main character investigates the abandoned asylum. It’s clear to see that careful attention to detail has been taken care of with swirling synths and a pounding heartbeat drumline intertwining throughout the track, building to a crescendo of hellish guitar before seguing into the next track.
“Withdrawn” is a menacing track. Continuing with some elements from Insertion, there’s plenty of textures being played around with as well as layers, all providing a further soundtrack of horror and pressure. Haunting guitars manage to provide a distinct shrieking counterpoint to the thick swirls of synthesizer as the track descends further into fear throughout the remainder of the song.
“Denial” is the fourth track, and like the tracks before, it starts off fairly quietly. A keyboard patch kicks in fairly close to the start, and unfortunately it just feels like it’s trying too hard to maintain a scary atmosphere. However, the howling guitar in the background does manage to up the sense of tension and horror that’s been present throughout the EP so far. One of the more drone-oriented tracks on the EP, Denial is a fairly competent piece apart from some of the keyboard work at times. However, it doesn’t build to a crescendo like some of the others, instead dropping it in abruptly at the end, which is a bit of a shame and does make it the weakest track on the EP unfortunately, as it would have worked better as a slow-build throughout the song.
“Return” heralds the beginning of the end of the EP, being the penultimate track. A tension-builder, Return reminds me a lot of The Fragile-era NIN mixed with a film soundtrack. Unfortunately, there’s a return of a keyboard patch from Denial in the background during the first third of the song, which does let things down a bit, before it leaves and is replaced with a minimalist section that begins to swell and swell before having a bit of a NIN-style meltdown with a wall of noise. And we’re not even two-thirds of the way through the song yet. The rest of the song proceeds with a mixture of elements that just keeps threatening to build and build into a massive outpouring of noise, before abruptly removing most of them and just continuing with drums and synths before doing a gradual fadeout of just synth.
“A Kink in the Line” is the final track, and I will admit, does sound suspiciously a lot like a song that would get played over the credits of a horror film. It attempts to undo the tension and sense of fear that the previous songs generated, whilst also still retaining a haunting melody and feel to it at times. Conceptually, it feels like A Kink in the Line does bring the EP to a neat close, being a sort of mini soundtrack to an indie horror film, as well as managing to incorporate elements found throughout the entire EP, from frantic drums to soaring guitars to pulsing synth textures. The song builds to a slow crescendo before dipping into a slow fadeout, before silence just overtakes everything and it ends.
After finishing the EP, I had a read of the press kit that came with the EP, and it does mention that it’s inspired in part “by the recent hospitalization of a family member, the music is a darkly cinematic trip”, and I think that it’s fairly safe to say that this is an incredibly accurate statement. If you’re looking for some great, cinematic music to set the mood to your next horror session, whether that’s watching films or reading, I can highly recommend “EP 2” to heighten the tension and bring out the fear.