The Tuoni Pathway is the 9th full-length record of Soulgrind. This is a Finnish band with a long history (active since 1992) and their music features a dark and melodic atmosphere that swings between doom, death, black metal and folk.
The first track, “The call of the dancing waters” opens the album with a piano solo which is soon accompanied by background guitar chords and when Tanya Lilith starts singing, those not acquainted with Soulgrind will immediately acknowledge that this is not the operatic or lyrical voice that one is used to in these kind of bands. This is not a bad thing, since it’s a distinctive feature of this band and Tanya is a very fierce singer. It’s only on the second track, “Rain Before the Dawn”, that her voice will meet Azhemin’s feral guttural voice, nevertheless, he’ll only get the attention he deserves in the 4th track, “Song of Tomorrow”, a work that almost reminds us of Draconian.
By the title of this album, one could expect a deeper approach of pagan and folk themes, since according to Finnish mythology and Kalevala (the Finnish epic), Tuoni is the god of Tuonela (underworld). Nevertheless, the lyrics don’t mirror that. And although sometimes there is a kind of “farewell feeling” that gives us the impression of a crossing to the underworld, the lyrics don’t get over that border.
I guess that one of the most original songs of this album is the last one, which is sang in Finnish and has a black folk-ish and atmospheric vibe at the beginning, and then gets heavier with the emergence of a doom wall of guitar riffs. This one, i would say, is beautifully crafted and totally favours Tanya’s voice. Besides, singing in Finnish suits the band. Unfortunately a track alone doesn’t make an album (not in this case, at least), and the band still has a long way to go.
Comparing to the last albums this one seems to be the less heavy and one gets the feeling that the band has been changing directions and getting fused with an even more melodic metal scene. And although this is not a bad album and its production quality is very good, it lacks soul. There’s something missing. This is an easy record to listen and after a while the songs can even be catchy, but one does not feel many emotions when listening to it and there’s no excitement or sense of novelty.