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The True Masters of Black Metal - 90%

Orkkivuorilta, April 17th, 2011

This album, in effect, is a journey to the abyss and back again. The album starts off with 'Orkkivuorilta' which contains a chilling and, to say the least, exciting 20-second intro of basically just wind. Then you're thrown into the belly of the beast; perfectly shrieked vocals and expert execution of simple riffs create the optimum atmosphere that makes you want to bang your head. 'Orkkivuorilta' changed speed from slower sections to slightly faster than to oblivion and in my opinion if you can do this without making the song extremely boring then it's a success. I've only seen a few bands pull this off; Horna, Tsjuder and Nargaroth; and when you compare it to the likes of Satyricon who are said masters of the genre but failed to keep 'Dominions of Satyricon' alive passed the minute mark, it just proves that Horna are clearly underrated. No other band has had so many consistent releases back to back than Horna and they are the true masters of black metal!

'Imperial Devastation' is very 'Desert Northern Hell' with Horna's edge which makes it epic within the first half-minute. A good strong follow-up to the best bm song of all time and not much else could have followed it in such grace. Through this song alone you can see that the album isn't just a bunch of beats and riffs thrown together with a few shrieks here and there to attempt at fame (like Mayhem's Deathcrush - absolute piss), but the band have clearly spent many a diadem perfecting every second of this album, so that each track flows perfectly from one to the next, which it does.

'Sormus Ja Silmä' is an outright epic and shows 1349 how to create a 13 minute track without it losing interest in the first couple of minutes. The opening riff is pure class and for once, you can hear a bass in a black metal song! PRAISE HORNA FOR THE WONDERFUL BASS! At around 5:30 the track changes into faster beats and Watain-like vocals and when 7:47 hits you know the track is worth 5 stars on your iTunes. Then comes the outro of the song and I’m suddenly thinking of clear influences from Satyricon's 'I En Svart Kiste' and Nargaroth's Introduction on 'Herbstleyd'. The classic ending of some weird man talking in a weird voice with weird poofy music is here, but yet again like 'I En Svart Kiste'. I like it.

Not a perfect release but for a first full-length? Fucking immense. The song 'Örkkivuorilta' alone made Horna's name stand out in my book and this album is a must have for anyone who is into raw black metal perfection! Download it/buy it... I don't care as long as you get it!

Recommended Tracks: 'Örkkivuorilta', 'Imperial Devastation' and 'Sormus Ja Silmä'.

My only complaint about this album is the small amount of tracks and the tiny length, otherwise it's pretty great. I was going to rate this 85/100 but I’m going to add more just for the sheer perfection of the first two tracks.

Kohti Yhdeksän Nousua - 70%

Noctir, September 25th, 2009

Kohti Yhdeksän Nousua is the first full-length from Finland's Black Metal horde, Horna. It was released in 1998 by Solistitium Records, limited to 1500 copies. At this point in their development, the band had only existed for a few years. Enough time had passed that they were skilled as musicians, but the songwriting was not very original. It would take some time before Shatraug created the signature style that he was later known for.

Musically, the Norwegian Black Metal scene of the early 90s seems to have been the primary influence, as opposed to Finnish bands like Beherit, Archgoat or Impaled Nazarene. All of the instruments are quite clear, compared to those whose style they were attempting to emulate. There's a lot of variation in tempo, with a lot of riff changes as well. For the most part, it is standard Darkthrone and Gorgoroth worship, but there are a few haunting melodies that creep in, such as the one around the 2:00 mark of "Örkkivuorilta". There are a lot of mid-paced thrash riffs, with the tremolo melodies being utilized a little more sparingly, adding atmosphere to the songs. There are some memorable moments to be found, so don't get the impression that the lack of originality is completely a bad thing. One must remember that, around this time, all of the old Norwegian bands that they idolized had changed quite a bit, so it was up so someone to fill the void and to continue the tradition. The band members were fairly young, so there's really nothing wrong with wanting to pay tribute to your favourite groups.

The vocalist is none other than Nazgul von Armageddon (a hell of a name), who may be best known as the main figure behind Satanic Warmaster. He does a fairly good job of imitating Hat and Pest, of Gorgoroth, possessing the high-pitched sound that they favoured. At times, the vocals are overdubbed with high and low, which produces a decent effect but is slightly overused.

The overall atmosphere of the album isn't as dark as they may have been aiming for, but the music is too generic to elicit much of a response. It is an enjoyable listen, but nothing that really reaches in and grabs you. It does have its moments, however. During "White Aura Buried In Ashes", there is a section that breaks away from the fast-paced theme that dominates the rest of the album. Around the 3:40 mark, the tempo changes and Nazgul utilizes clean vocals, which produce an absolutely haunting effect, accentuated by the guitar riff and some faint keyboard in the background. The riff hints at the style Shatraug would later build upon. It's almost reminiscent of something Hypocrisy or Gorgoroth. This is, probably, the most memorable and moving part of the whole album, surprisingly enough. You would think that clean singing would kill the feel, but it actually salvaged the song from being more filler.

The last proper song, "Sormus ja silmä", builds on the atmosphere created in the closing moments of the previous track. It is much slower and possesses more feeling, with Nazgul going for more of a tormented approach, vocally. The main riff of this near-ten minute song is similar to "Yhdeksän Yö", which would appear on the next album. In reality, it almost sounds like a slowed-down Gorgoroth riff, from Antichrist. If it isn't obvious by this point of the album that Infernus and company are heroes to these Finns, then you must be braindead.

All in all, Kohti Yhdeksän Nousua isn't a bad album. It may be somewhat generic, but it's very consistent. For anyone who misses the early Norwegian Black Metal style, this might satiate your hunger for more music in that vein. The problem is that the album is quite rare and certainly not worth the outrageous amounts one may have to pay for it. If you see it for regular price, it's a solid purchase, but I wouldn't recommend dropping double or triple for it.

Imperial Devestation! - 80%

AntonJ, February 11th, 2009

Ah Finland, what would the black metal scene be without it?!
There are few bands who’s managed to keep such an impressing amount of quality throughout there discography as Horna. Their first release is not an exception! I’m not sure if there’s a special theme on this album or not, but the title of the album refers to the nine wraiths from “The lord of the Rings”.

Since I had not listened to anything from this release before, I was satisfying to find out that it had a raw but clear production (It’s clear that Horna has never been amongst the numerous amateur bands out there). Their first release reminds me of their second “Haudankylmyyden Mailla”, not only by production but by the music as well. Since the two albums were released within a short period of time I don’t really find that to be surprising.

The music is black metal in every way. The guitars vary between an aggressive approach and melancholic melodies, the bas is always present in the background. Kohti yhdeksän nousua also features the original Horna line-up which means Nazgul is the one who’s doing the vocals. Nazgul’s vocals seem to have been at its top during this time and they are very distinguishable through out the album. I don’t really have any specific comment on the drums since they didn’t impress on me that much. It’s the usual black metal drumming.

Most of the songs on the album are above average, though the last song before the outro tend to get a bit dull during the slower parts. The album reaches its climax when a choir enters on the song “White Aura Buried in ashes”, that’s my opinion.

This is worth adding to your collection if you want a complete Horna discography, plus you get a solid black metal release.