Ajattara have been slacking off for years, first with the dispossessed 2007 album Kalmanto and then the folksier, mediocre inclinations of Noitumaa in 2009. With Murhat, they finally return to the form they all but abandoned after 2006's excellent but under appreciated Äpäre, and not a moment to soon. This is an effort full of the groove and bombast that made them such an incredible force through the dawning 21st century, by far the best project Pasi Koskinen (known here as Ruoja) has involved himself in since parting from Amorphis. It's not a complex formula, and that is why it works. Huge, churning guitars below Pasi's hostile native tongue barking, singing the woes of the world and igniting the very fires of hell behind the brows of both modern and ancient man.
The album title translates to 'Murders', and thought if fails to actually murder the listener, it certainly twists a few limbs off so that you'll need to pay a visit to the Emergency Room. The opener "Kunnes taivas meidät erottaa" should not be taken as representative for the album, for while it's not an atrocious song, and manifests a crass and bludgeoning atmosphere, the riffs are not all that interesting, though it's cool to hear Pasi bust out some of those old Amorphis clean vocals like he used on Elegy. After this track, the album picks up considerably, with the eerie "Ihmisen luku" and it's decrepit vocals, which hearken straight back to that delightfully demented 2001-2006 period where this band just shat blood and gold constantly. "H.A.I." is quite original, with a fucked choral intro and huge, dark tribal tones to the central, doomed groove, and then the bouncing mystique of "Aura" and ambient-gone-exotic-bruiser "Sokea liha" offer affirmation that Ajattara are right back where I want them.
It also holds together quite deep into the track list, with personal favorites arriving near the end like "Murheiden kilta" and its swaggering, simplistic brutality, or the driving, slow paced grind of "Apilas" which breaks out these melodic walls that cast titanic shadows over the bass and drums. The finale, "Veljet" uses repeated vocal phrasings to create a mug swinging pandemic in the listener, you want to ball your fist and crush and kill, much like the album title promised. A dark and focused Ajattara is really all I could hope for, and though Murhat isn't able to surpass some of its predecessors in the 32 minutes offered, it's towering production and underpinning evils will hopefully satisfy the band's long term fans who might have been disappointed these past few attempts.
Verdict: Win [7.75/10]