It’s not every day that a band releases their debut full-length nearly 30 years into their existence, but not every day is Festerday (I’ll be here all week…). To be fair, the Finnish act haven’t had a traditional path, with a radio silence old enough to rent a car (25 years, for those keeping count) and a series of ten demos, splits, and compilations. Named after Carcass’ delightfully disgusting debut, the band’s musical aim should be clear (and probably bloody). Given that, Iihtallan has been a very long time coming. But is the album worth the wait?
The answer is clear: absolutely. What’s interesting is how adept Festerday are at combining the old and the new. This is chainsaw-sharp old school death metal through and through, and despite a record that truly flies by with excellent riffs and leads, what’s maybe most remarkable is how little Festerday actually deviate from the established norms.
Iihtallan isn’t a series of experiments on an established sound; it’s a can of fresh paint on an old house. What does that mean, practically? Iihtallan features a surprisingly warm and vibrant modern production. Much like another excellent recent addition to the death metal canon in Gatecreeper, it’s not about the invention of brand spankin’ new ideas here but about excellence in execution. The songs themselves stand out from one another, either with a particularly vibrant lead, or (more often the case) with rousing riffs and a crazed person behind the drums. Vocally, Kena Stromsholm brings the heat in all sorts of disgusting ways – the lyrics are not safe for nuns.
In that classic Finnish way, Festerday’s keen embrace of melodic undercurrent elevates the songs beyond simple exercises in the macabre. That’s not to say that this is a mournful and introspective record: far from it, seriously. However, there’s a care to make the songs attach themselves to the listener by more than sheer force. Festerday have clearly come for their day in death metal court, and it’s safe to say the Finns are guilty of causing a glorious ruckus. It was a long and unexpected wait, but for those looking for excellent classic death metal, Festerday delivers.