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Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne is the fourth full-length album from the stalwarts of Finnish Black Metal, Horna. It was released in 2005, which was four years after the release of their previous album, the horrible Sudentaival. Following that trainwreck of a record, the band tossed Nazgul by the wayside and promptly replaced him with Corvus. Supposedly, their former vocalist was burnt out and unable to contribute anymore, though the real reason may be linked to the fact that he was a complete and total poser. Either way, despite the fact that Horna took so long to release another L.P. it cannot be said that the band was unproductive during these years. They continued to participate in split releases as well as the occasional E.P. Shatraug also managed to release Sargeist material during this time, so there was never really any hiatus, just a lack of a full record.
Being somewhat familiar with the band, I was surprised to find this in a used record store within a year of its release, appearing as though it had hardly been touched. Though I was not planning to buy anything, I simply could not allow this CD to sit on the shelf among so many rejects. Once I got home and tossed it in the stereo, night had fallen and only a few candles illuminated the room. The atmosphere was not expected, as this was dark, melancholy and even a bit unsettling.
Musically, it seemed that Shatraug had really found his own identity as a songwriter, in the years that preceded this release. Possibly as a result of the wretched path that Horna followed, briefly, or simply by expressing his ideas through the outlet known as Sargeist, he managed to really define his style of guitar playing and the way that he created melodies and structured the songs. My first impression was that this had more in common with Satanic Black Devotion, from Sargeist, than with Horna's earlier material. There are a lot of similar melodies and rhythms utilized, though there are quite enough differences to distinguish the two entities from one another.
"Vihan Tie" opens at full throttle, with blasting drums, fast tremolo-picked guitar riffs and hellishly raw vocals. The more folk-inspired rhythms make brief appearances before going back into the fast-paced Black Metal assault. The melodies are mournful and dark, with a miserable feeling that permeates your very spirit. The arrangment displays great skill and shows just how far the band has come since their previous album. And though the early material was good, it still bore many similarities to the Norwegian bands and did not truly possess its own identity. By now, Horna had been more firmly established and its sound was becoming well-defined.
The second song, "Musta Temppeli", is quite a different beast. It begins with slow, morbid riffs that consume you in utter blackness. As the song progresses, the speed picks up a bit and yet the aura remains as dark as ever, giving off eerie and unpleasant feelings that almost make you want to crawl out of your own skin. The track shifts back and forth, between the slow and fast riffs, leaving behind an overwhelming sensation of desolation and despair. You get the feeling that this was recorded in Hell, at certain points, as the atmosphere is just so hopeless and bereft of any light.
"Vala Pedolle" seems a little more upbeat, at the onset, with another riff that is somehow reminiscent of Sargeist. It is sorrowful but not completely oppressing. After a few minutes, a faster section emerges and the sombre feeling begins to grow, as a more epic melody arrives to slice your heart out of your chest. Other riffs are introduced, as the tempo changes again and again. At this point, one has to wonder how Corvus can continue with the style of vocals that he employs, since it sounds as if his throat is totally shredded. Clocking in at eight and a half minutes, this song takes its time in the dissection of the listener's soul, slowly dragging you through the depths of the abyss.
The overall vibe changes again as "Kirous Ja Malja" begins, with a more uplifting melody. As it goes along, the feeling sinks down into the realm of misery and an epic sense of negativity bleeds through. While not bad, this song does not stand out from the rest so much. "Saastainen Koste" follows the same pattern, in a sense, making good use of some old school riffing.,but not coming off as overly exceptional. However, by this point, it is noticeable that the band made the conscious decision to leave in bits before the songs actually start, giving a less formal impression.
The real highlight of the album is next, in the form of "Kuoleva Lupaus". This song is more mid-paced and filled with epic melodies of pure misery. The strained vocals add to this feeling, really helping to pull the listener down into the depths of suffering. The song is quite melodic, but still retains the same raw feeling that is present throughout the rest of the album. With each repetition of the mournful guitar riffs, one can better see the glow of the funeral torches, leading the way down a dark and bloodsoaked path. As the song speeds up, the tremolo melodies tear you into shreds, and the one final desire that you possess if for death to claim your miserable body and to allow your spirit to be free of such hell. It is only in the final moments that the realization becomes very clear: death is not the end of this journey, but only the transition to a deeper level of suffering.
"Zythifer" symbolizes this, in a way. It is an instrumental track that feels like a nightmare that has come to life, draining the energy from you and leaving nothing but a wretched pile of waste in its wake. The pace is rather slow, very appropriate for a descent into the black abyss. The melodies possess a dark beauty, the type that imbues the listener with an image of laying helplessly in a bloody heap, struggling to get up but only managing to fall face-first back into the crimson pool. There are faint glimmers of hope, but these are quickly stomped into oblivion and soon forgotten.
The album ends with "Kuilunhenki", which is less abysmal as the previous songs, yet still manages to breed darkness and a sense of tension. There are ephemeral passages that lessen the feeling of suffocation, but these catchy riffs cannot hope to undermine the soul-crushing atmosphere that dominates the majority of this record.
Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne is an album that shows Horna truly developing their style and breaking away from the strict adherence to their influences. It is dripping with a dark and melancholic atmosphere that really has the potential to affect the mind of the listener. In many ways, it exceeds all of their past efforts and should really be looked at as a new starting point for the band, as they became even more productive following this release. Seek this out and buy with confidence.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
Unfortunately my experience with this legendary band is limited, and my first exposure to their music was the slightly less than intense “Haudankylmyyden Mailla”. While this album has its charm, it does seem to put me to sleep in some parts, and could benefit from a richer guitar sound and more imaginative songwriting. “Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne”, however, is a breath of fresh air, as it is genuinely innovative and original black metal, released in 2005, at a time where other bands have mostly been rehashing old ideas or trying to fuse superficial elements from other genres while ultimately losing the true spirit of black metal.
The production here is perfect for dark and raw black metal, as the guitars take on a trebly sound, but without becoming weakened or quiet in the mix. The bass is audible and effective, and the drums are powerful without being an annoying and constant blast. The vocals are an aggressive black metal scream. Based on this description you could be forgiven for thinking that this album must be generic (not necessarily a bad thing) with nothing new to offer. The truth is that they have embraced the old black metal spirit, but with riffs that have grown on me with every listen.
The first track “Vihan Tie” is critical to whether the listener becomes engaged (entranced) by this album, as it contains a repetitive riff that is revisited throughout the song, and could be interpreted by some listeners as annoying. To me, it gives the music a buzzing, hypnotic feel. After this relatively accessible introduction to the album, “Musta Temppeli” begins to grind its way into the soul of the listener. The opening riff is dark and infectious, serving a similar purpose to Mayhem’s “Freezing Moon” opener. The bass interacts well with guitar here to create a drone effect. After this introduction, the song speeds up to a climax which causes significant neck snappage; it’s amazing what moods can be invoked in the listener by playing a single note very quickly, but not so fast that the drums and bass can’t punctuate each note and drive it into your skull, and not without gradually moving across the musical scale. This song is what dark and evil black metal is all about.
It would be redundant to continue with a song-by-song description, as the themes and song structures remain similar throughout the album. Since I love the aforementioned structures, this is welcome, and the riffs throughout the album are diverse enough and have occasionally imprinted on parts of my brain during my days at work. It would be wrong of me not to mention the instrumental track “Zythifer”, however. This is one of the better instrumental tracks I have heard on a black metal album. No keyboards or random samples of wind blowing here! This is a slow and eerie progression that seems to creep up on the listener with the same organic and earthy guitar tones that have been used throughout the album, and I have never found myself using the skip button here, as it seamlessly continues the mood and themes of the previous songs.
Musically, the main strength of this album is how the bass interacts with the guitar tone, simply following it at certain times, but at other times diverging and providing contrast. The tempo varies throughout each song, from slow and grim passages, to climaxes of blistering speed and evil, but these tempo changes are not with such regularity that the songs become disjointed. They are sparse enough to make an impact, and the band is willing to repeat a riff for a good two or three minutes where warranted. There are even some rather warm and charming “black ‘n’ roll” style riffs that fit well.
I would enthusiastically recommend this to all black metal fans, but acknowledge that people who find constant “hammering” of drums following guitars note for note irritating (as in Nokturnal Mortum’s “On the Moonlight Path”) or who find Darkthrone’s meandering effort of “To Walk the Infernal Fields” quite lame, may not enjoy “Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne”. I, however, find it to be quite brilliant and diverse.
Woodcut black metal warriors Horna have been fairly productive as of late. The End has picked up the band’s ‘Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne’ for release in the US and for good reason. The effort is a solid dose of necrotic black metal that is certain to appeal to fans of Tsjuder and Celtic Frost (yeah, the good shit) alike. Raspy growls punctuate the flurries of high-register rhythm guitars on the lengthy “Musta Temppeli”, a cut that slices through thick skin, emancipating a crimson flow with brash intensity. The clean guitar passages the duo utilizes fit the track well, adding a ghastly ambience. More traditional metal influences crop up in “Vala Pedolle”, a more straightforward track that manages to pay homage to bands of the eighties underground while retaining a darkened vision musically.
Vocally, Corvus employs an abrasive rasp that adds a strictly evil, primitive vibe to the dismally brilliant “Saastainen Kaste” while Shatraug proves that he can approach black metal from a diverse array of angles, yet still bring to realization manifestations of a most enjoyably depraved nature. The doom-laden abrasiveness of “Zythifer” is a testament to discordant blasphemy that followers of the Finnish act will find to be most disengaged from the rest of the work here. It remains, however an exceptional representation of Horna’s musical creativity, with memorable melodic passages swirling amidst a cold, foggy sound that is highly effective in getting this band’s malevolent intent across to the listener.
Very underground, this release is one for the cult to discover; if not for the entertaining techniques Horna works through, then for the sheer emotion of blackness that it contains. Mighty Hailz.
Horna's latest release is an interesting release for black metal. It sounds like the offspring of many newer USBM bands with older Norwegian bands such as Darkthrone. It's epically proportioned, adequately produced in the sense that instruments are listen able but still sound rough, and cold in atmosphere.
First impressions from the first track, "Vihan Tie", is a memorable riff over a typical black metal blast and bass line. The vocals are reminiscent of perhaps Darkthrone, being high, rough and raspy. The song is enjoyable until a certain riff that's just a bit too melodic and out of place with the rest of the song. Nonetheless, the song is enjoyable.
The album continues to flow in such fashion. Song structures are crafted well and for the most part, nothing seems out of place with the exception of a few riffs that seem really primitive black metal/punk like. Point to the third track titled "Vala Pedolle". That track in itself if probably the weakest on the album just due to those chord progressions.
Overall, this album is enjoyable to listen to. Nothing unique or groundbreaking, just full a lot of great atmosphere with a few small exceptions here and there. There's not a lot to say other than check it out if this style interests you.