Its name translating to “Black Ceremony,” Rippikoulu’s legendary demo was released only on tape at the time before being reissued by Svart Records seventeen years later, allowing for the democratisation of this powerful release for those would endure such a bludgeoning. Clear yet rumbling production allows for distinctly Finnish melodies in a simple death/doom form that is derived from the grindcore available at the time. Though this could be qualified as being a second or third tier Finnish record, very few are able to muscially evoke physical oppression as well as Rippikoulu.
The guitars are tuned down almost an octave lower but with tone sufficiently well adapted to allow for the notes to maintain distinction. Though there is a lack of higher frequencies in the guitar tone that makes itself particularly noticeable during the tremolo picked passages as the intricacies of the melodies are drowned out by the guitar tone. The bass is almost inaudible in its deep rumblings and follows the rhythm guitar religiously to add more impact. The drums are full and have a rockish bounce that enforces the physicality of the music presented here. The Finnish language with it’s longer vowels and few consonant clusters allow the vocalist to maintain long gravely bellows for extended periods of time. Sounding monstrous yet otherwordly at the same time.
The influence of British grindcore on the Finnish scene is transparent on Musta Seremonia. The melodies are orchestrated in three forms:
- A slow grinding sequence of power chords as popularized by Autopsy and the subsequent Swedish bands.
- Standard mid-paced power chord riffs that utilize the open string as pedal note, these riffs mainly serve in transitionning from the slower passages to the tremolo picked sections.
- Long tremolo passages where the notes are maintained for a long time in an almost Black metal like cadence which serve as the explosions and climaxes of the compositions.
Through these three simple methods, Rippikoulu express its caveman like melodies effectively and directly without ever sounding tired or uninspired. The melodies exist within the sphere of the Finnish death metal scale which is the minor pentatonic with added chromaticism. While not as developed as their more musically verbose peers, the band still manages to convey emotions just as well. The palette of emotions does not contain much of a pensive quality which has come to define the Finnish movement, but that is not the objective of such physical music.
Arrangements straddle the line between the grindcore development/deconstruction and the death metal riff maze. Compositions start with a simple four note motif that morphs continuously throughout each song without giving way to new ideas. The compositions distinguish between climax and conclusion. The climaxes are the very simple cadenced tremolo picked with the vocals bursting on top that lead to the conclusions. The conclusions are the slow power chords riffs that are almost skeletal and seem to be there only for texture until the keyboards and various fills flesh out the entirety of the melody and conclude each track in a satisfactory manner. The guitar fills and the keyboard play more developed melodies against the deconstructed sequences, showing that truth can only be obtained through corporal hardships.
Musta Seremonia stands head and shoulders above the majority of death/doom acts as it eschews the typical self-pity and the over dramatisation that would characterize the genre and its obsession with prioritizing bass frequencies in every instrument rather than creating powerful music. The main issue with Musta Seremonia is that the whole demo could have been compressed into a singular composition as each song does not vary from its predecessor and therefore the demo plays through in a blur due to the lack of distinction between the tracks. The short length of the demo saves this from becoming too problematic. Though this can never be considered a classic, Musta Seremonia remains a great piece of art for particularly difficulty physical exercise or long expeditions in challenging conditions, this is the music for brainless determination in the face of adversity.