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There are albums that one has to check out. It’s not that they’re necessarily relevant for many, but for some reason, one wouldn’t be able to sleep calm knowing that has skipped something that makes you curious. That happens to me at least, and that’s the reason why I’m writing this now.
Horna are a black metal Finnish act, and if not considered one of the classic bands of the Scandinavian wave of bands playing such genre back in the early 90’s, they are right in the outskirts of that category. Me, I’ve listened to some of their work along the years —they’ve released about 30 demos, splits and shit— so I can say that I’m familiar with what they do. The problem lies right there actually, if there’s a problem at all.
I certainly had the time of my life listening to the truly evil sound in “Askel Lähempänä Saatanaa” —whatever that means, Google translator is for fags— and I enjoyed it exactly for the same goddamn reasons that I’ve enjoyed every single work by these guys that I’ve had the chance to check out: cold riffs and melodies, raw distortion, wicked drumming and truly malevolent vocals all creating that cold raw and disturbing atmosphere that I’m so addicted to.
I know, I know: You’ve read the above description a million times before, always about black metal bands that stick to that old Norwegian sound, uh? You’re so right! So, what’s the point of listening to this? Well, not because it has become a cliché I have become myself unable to enjoy it, you know. Yes, there’s a bunch of albums that one could listen to having pretty much the same effect, and yes, it’s also possible that there are better releases of this kind —although, that’s always arguable—. And still, how many bands have been around playing and perfecting such sound for nearly two decades now? In my book, twenty years do validate a lot of what a band does.
Now, how perfect can this kind of metal be? Much of its beauty lies precisely on its ugliness. Horna’s latest is raw, noisy and disturbing, and it definitely feels anachronistic. This is not an attempt to revolutionize black metal in any way, au contraire, it is all about Horna doing their thing. And I do like it. At the same time, you can put a check mark in every must for a release of this type, and no, that doesn’t necessarily means that they are emulating them. This is not one of those records…
Proof of how well this album is made is the fact that playing a most primitive kind of black metal, Horna managed to make 48 minutes pass so fast, that the end actually got me by surprise. Also, there IS real coherence amongst themes, riffs, solos and leif motifs, and for once —and without spoiling the experience with clean production— you can actually listen to the bass lines. That always helps for the feeling of atmosphere to be complete.
Not trying to innovate anything, and still, Horna do their thing and they do it right. In a way that’s refreshing in a world where pointless sophistication has fucked up almost every sub-genre in metal. Not that it is going to become a classic, but I would recommend this to any black metal fan. I’m sure they’ll understand.
—Originally written for www.globaldomination.se