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Shatraug, the only remaining original member of Horna, collaborates with his bandmates with what is to be their eighth full-length, “Askel Lähempänä Saatanaa” via World Terror Committee. The dominant outer feature about the album is the artwork itself. Designed by Antti “Nuitar” Saikkonen I felt taken back by its surreal majesty. Other than this release, I have not heard any other Horna album. I decided to skim their discography to have a latch for their endeavors. I came across a 1995 four track demo entitled “Varjoissa". Back then Shatraug went under the alias, Skald. Horna remained consistent throughout the years as this demo I found to be the closest to what resembled “Askel Lähempänä Saatanaa”'s sound.
“Alku” transmits a static projection of what appears to be like a classic horror film starring Vincent Price or a black and white London film about Jack the Ripper. In any case, it sounds troubling and decadent. As for the self-titled song “Askel Lähempänä Saatanaa” through “Ota Omaksesi, Luoksesi”, I think it’s nonsensical to explain every song, so instead I’ll describe the quality aspects of what I found intriguing about this album.
Every single track had a classic black metal sound to it. You could feel it was an album from the 21st century, but it had the quality of an early '90s black metal record, if that makes any sense at all. The years have been fortunate as they have improved and harnessed many fertile and imaginative riffs. There were melodic black metal riffs all throughout which brought forth a rhythmic continuation of devastation. Being pioneers from Finland I think helps cultivate a unique style approach to black metal and peculiarity in general. Vainaja was favored on this release by mixing decisions, which made his drumming highly salient. In my opinion, I thought the recording decisions were perfect. Everything was audible to the degree that I personally preferred. Drumming was absolutely hypnotic. Crediting the guitarists and the drummer, “Askel Lähempänä Saatanaa”, all in all, was a very catchy and classic release.
I thought Spellgoth was a great recruitment as I preferred his vocals over the previous vocalists. With Hex Inferi, the latest addition, you can hear his style quite well on “Yhdeksäs Portti”. You can tell Horna’s approach was different from previous efforts. In an interview I read, Shatraug pretty much supervises the contributions put forth, but in this album particularly he allowed more leeway for each band member to please Satan in their own ritualistic way. That key component alone has achieved, in my opinion, to be Horna’s magnum opus to date.