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Ääniä Yössä is a concept album, dealing with the Black Death that ravaged Europe in the 14th century. Though it was released in September 2006, work began on this record as far back as 2004. Horna is an extremely productive band, at times, thanks to the overwhelming creativity of Shatraug (who also had time to release a handful of demos, splits and albums with his other band, Sargeist, during the same period). For whatever reason, he is joined only by Corvus on this, the band's fifth full-length. They had been using session drummers, but chose to program the drumming on this one, which hurts the record.
"Raiskattu saastaisessa valossa" begins with the sounds of disease-ridden rats, before picking up from where the most dismal moments of Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne left off. The mid-paced riffs carry a feeling of lifelessness and the extremely raw vocals add to the overall harshness. The drum programming detracts from the atmosphere, a bit, not sounding nearly organic enough. After a couple of minutes, this no longer matters, as there is a section that features only bleak guitar melodies and horrible screams. The open-arpeggio riffs are reminiscent of Burzum, though the sound here is far less clear. The pace picks up a bit, near the middle, but the riff is not exactly complimentary to those that preceded it. These two alternate, a couple times, before the initial theme returns. All in all, not a bad start but the song runs a little long and struggles to maintain a consistent vibe, at certain points.
The next song hearkens back to Horna's early days and seems more in line with a release such as Hiidentorni. Unlike the rest of the tracks on here, "Noutajan kutsu " is rather short and does not attempt to create an epic feeling. A darker riff is introduced, after a minute or so, but it is ephemeral and the pace picks up rather quickly. This song feels kind of average and does not do a whole lot to contribute to the morbid atmosphere than one would assume that the band was going for.
"Mustan surman rukous" starts with a slower riff that possesses an eerie feeling. The guitar melodies that follow are not as impressive. The song sort of drags, with no real inspiration. There is nothing unpleasant or annoying about the track, just that it seems more suitable as background music rather than something to be focused on. Under close scrutiny, it fails to live up to the listener's expectations.
The fact that this album was recorded in two separate sessions becomes clear with the title track. "Ääniä Yössä" sounds completely different from the rest of the material, possessing a distant quality. The first riff is reminiscent of Darkthrone, and the drumming pattern is much faster to match this. Of course, the production is so weak that the song comes across like something heard in a dream. Some open chords are interspersed with the main tremolo melody, giving it an otherworldly atmosphere. Listening to this, you get the sense of falling into a dream that soon turns into a horrifying nightmare. All around you, visions of torture and suffering, as the dreadful notion creeps into your mind that this shall be your fate as well. Waves of misery and anguish pour over you, as you are soon swept away by a river of sorrow and doom. Those damned waters threaten to swallow you forever, as another melancholic tremolo riff accompanies tormented howls that echo within your being. With each new melody, the darkness becomes ever more impenetrable. A woeful strain rises from the utter blackness, woeful in character, extinguishing whatever hope that remains.Despite the obvious similarities with old Darkthrone riffs, the arrangement is well-done and the repetition is carried out in such a way that the introduction of each new piece means something and helps build to the final climatic melody.
Ääniä Yössä would be a rather disappointing release, if not for the 21-minute long title track. In a sense, this album is like Venom's At War With Satan, in that one lengthy song really dominates the album and serves as the centerpiece. Though it is strange for a full-length to feature such a noticeable difference in production, among the tracks, it actually works in this case. While it is not as solid, all the way through, this album is certainly worth hearing for the final track, alone.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
What could be more metal then a concept album about the black plague? Nothing.
Horna, the most grueling Finnish black metal band this side of Beherit, seems to have caught onto this in their album Ääniä Yössä.
The album opens with the incredibly unpronounceable Raiskattu Saastaisessa Valossa with a crushing riff- foreshadowing the songs to follow. It sounds somehow drowned and sets an eerie mood of sorrow. It is raw, redundant, black metal at its purist. Corvus’ voice is raw, it’s horrendous, and it’s sinister. The guitars and bass are static and redundant, yet maintain a level of interest and innovation in a sense. I never thought I could be so amazed by the same 3 or 4 riffs played over and over again. The drums are slower then you’ll find on many albums, but fit the music very well, thus it isn’t an issue. Raiskattu Saastaisessa Valossa very well establishes the mood for the album to come.
The second track, Noutajan Kutsu seems more uplifting then the first track, and has more of a dynamic feel, the track doesn’t sound at all like the first, making the album dynamic, which is always a good thing. Noutajan Kutsu flows right into Mustan Surman Rukous, and reestablishes the depressing, sorrowful atmosphere from the tiny “high” found in Noutajan Kutsu. Overall, its probably the weakest song on the album, but still a good song nonetheless.
Finally comes the 21 minute 19 second beast of a song that is Ääniä Yössä, the title track of the album. It instantly initiates the redundant, everlasting, as well as faster guitar and drum riffs that will occur for the rest of the song. Corvus’s voice dominats the music in some of my favorite vocals I’ve ever heard. The tone culminates in this song in an unrelenting torrent of drum beats. It drags on, in a good way. This song, as Shatraug has put it as “much like the last moments of a person dying of the plague: fevered, sick, hurting. Surely hallucinating,” a description I could not possibly best. It is raw, it is ongoing, it is redundant and best of all; it is fucking awesome.
Horna has done something on Ääniä Yössä that very few bands are able to do- create atmosphere. What they, and even fewer groups have done, is create atmosphere without the aid of keyboards or effects- it is raw, unadulterated black metal about the plague, it is done in a perfect way. Buy this fucking album.
Horna have been one of the few Finnish black metal bands that were either give or take with me. Most of their releases are straight-forward BM which is good, but considering how much of a prolific dischography they have, you would think they would be running out of ideas/steam etc. I remember picking-up "Hiidentorni" back in the day ('98...'99) along with a handful of other BM albums. That one struck me the most as the ugliest definately most rawest which was uneasy for my brain to comprehend even then. Fast-foward to 2006 where Horna is but a vauge memory in my damaged mind and all of a sudden Metal Maniacs and other publications are giving good reviews to them, along with advertisements by Moribund Records. I figure I would give them another shot seeing by now my cranium has been hardened through many nights drinking heavily.
A concept album about the black plague? Cool. Better than some other concept albums I have listened too. Horna does manage to really grab the sickness and absolute rotting feel of that time with an opening sample of rats scurrying about in the opening of "Raiskattu Saastaisessa Valossa" starts off with a really excellent melodic riffing and for the most part this song kicks major ass. I'm all for blastbeats and whatnot, but some mid-tempo riffing is also healthy for the possessed metalhead. Most of what is shown on "Anni Yossa" is constant alternation between mid-tempo riffing, to slow melodic doomy/depressing breaks. At times this may seem extremely monotonous, but for some reason works. "Noutajan Kutsu" continues the riff-worship momentum and foot-tapping(yes, Shatraug's riffs are fucking catchy). By the time you hit the mid-point of "Mustan Surman Rukous" your might catch yourself thinking..."Ok, are we we going to spice shit up here guys? Good so far but we are hitting the point where monotony becomes annoying. We are hitting Marduck territory here"...then the title track actually starts out completely different. First thing you notice is the sound production. Second thing is that there are blastbeats. Third thing is that this is Horna making ugly Finnish BM. Nothing catchy, nothing melodic....just ugliness. For and ending to an album of only 4 songs, it works.
The major downside to this album is that you really hoped for a little bit more, because Shatraug and Corvus managed to really pull together as a team and create some killer stuff. The downside to Horna is that they have released so much material over the years maybe only 1 or 2 releases (including this) really shine through. Those who want a good introduction to Horna should start with this release.