without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Though it has the packaging and consistent writing of a full-length, Musta Kaipuu is not actually a new album, but rather a collection of tracks off vinyl and tape sources that were recorded around the time of Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne but not released on the CD version. There is nearly an hour of material here, so Horna fans should be able to dig deeply in. Though I certainly count myself as one of those fans (Horna stands alongside Impaled Nazarene and Barathrum as a favorite Finnish outfit of this sort), much of the material here on Musta Kaipuu is average at best, and I can hear why the band wisely chose not to include it on one of their previous full-lengths. Yet here it stands, and if you mine far enough into into the material you can find a few grim and disgusting bits like "Pohjanportti (Northgate)" or the lengthy "Marraskuussa (In November)".
This is raw black, done much like any other Horna recording of the past 16 years. No refinement necessary, no experimentation or progression, and no pop finish. Just hopelessness and malevolence caught in audio form, as true as it gets. By the mid-'oughts, the Finns were utilizing a lot of straight, slower to mid-paced driving chord patterns in place of the constant tremolo one expected from much of the scene (though they do speed it up on occasion), and in this way they certainly mirrored some of the earlier Darkthrone recordings which in turn had a direct influence from Hellhammer. The central riffs to tunes like "Piina (Misery)" could have just as well belonged to some grimy punk rock outfit, but Horna infuses them with moodier bridges and splices of haunting, steady metallic melody below the dismal din of the production. Often I would find myself involved with a particular riffing progression, only to become numb at its slightly excess repetition, and several of the tracks don't entirely justify their length, even if I enjoyed some of their constituent pieces.
The stripped, flayed flesh of its presentation does work in the disc's favor, because it's hard to imagine a more authentic and honest sound for this genre, which Horna have consistently clung to through their career. It might seem somewhat cruder than a few of their most recent full-lengths, but all of the instruments are clear enough, with the guitars and bass slightly overpowering the tinnier cymbals and the less booming double bass drums. The thick, decrepit rasp of the vocals is more or less what you'd expect, they've always had one of the most pure and savage deliveries in the field whether it was Nazgul, Corvus or the newer front man Spellgoth, though no one would accuse them of the style's innovation or evolution. Abusive, bloody barks resonate just above the level of the guitars and fit in resplendent contrast to even the most glorious passages like the airy pearls of melody that adorn "Unohdetut Kasvot, Unohdettu Ääni" (taken from the band's 2005 split with Tenebrae in Perpetuum).
Still, apart from the stylistic proximity this music bears to several of my favorite Horna records like Envaatnags... or the underrated Sotahuuto, I did not come away from this wholly satisfied. A lot of the riffs are mediocre, also-ran sorts and I never felt that same, spike-fisted, mounting excitement which I felt for the latter of the aforementioned full-lengths. The material here is internally consistent, while varied enough that I wouldn't exactly dub it 'boring', but there were certainly a number of times throughout in which I all too easily phased out of the experience. That said, if you're a diehard collector of the band, or an advocate for the purity of the Scandinavian black wrought by Darkthrone, Bathory, or earlier Mayhem, you won't be offended by what you hear on Mustai Kaipuu, and the songs are decent enough to be given a voice if weren't able to acquire them on earlier, rare issues (like the split 7" or limited double LP of Envaatnags... which the band considers the official version, including a number of these songs).
Released in July 2009, Musta Kaipuu is Horna's eighth full-length album, though not officially recognized as such. The material presented here was recorded during the epic Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne sessions, back in 2004. For whatever reason, these songs were not chosen for that album and were left on the shelf. A few years later, Shatraug was looking to clear out a lot of unused songs, which resulted in a double L.P. in 2008 and then this collection of tracks being released the following year.
"Piina" is first up, and features several memorable riffs. It is mostly mid-paced and the guitar melodies work well to create a sombre atmosphere. The sound is identical to that of Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne, with an emphasis on the raw guitar tone and the extremely hoarse vocals of Corvus. While being fairly solid, this was not the best song to use to open up the album, as it seems more suited for the middle of the record.
The aura darkens from the initial moments of "Haudanvarjo", which is a longer track that features more variation in the tempo. It alternates between slower ad faster sections, not impressing too much, but remaining decent enough. There is a great tremolo riff near the middle that is very memorable, which returns near the end. Overall, it is clear why this song was left off the 2005 release.
"Aldebaranin Susi" is a bit more upbeat, with a somewhat more energetic pace for the first couple of minutes. Following this, the atmosphere becomes increasingly morose as things slow down and the vocals convey a tormented feeling. This one is a bit shorter, only around five minutes, and could have benefited from a little more development. It is a good song, more enjoyable than the previous two, but it had the potential to be even better.
The arrangement of the songs is quite strange, as they did not bother to start with the strongest material. Instead, the tracks seem to display a higher level of quality the deeper you get. "Unohdetut Kasvot, Unohdettu Ääni" is an example of this, showing a lot more thought in songwriting and arrangement. It is somewhat melodic, compared to the more primitive songs on here, but still very grim and melancholic. The tempo is dynamic, but the atmosphere remains consistent. The guitar melodies conjure up a sense of loss and regret, with subtle hints of a more optimistic aura; much like one that mourns the passing of something meaningful, briefly remembering pleasant things before the realization hits that it is forever gone. There is no turning back.
"Vuohenlahko" is a rather primitive and straightforward track, though still bearing a dark and sorrowful quality. It is one of the shorter songs on here and the mournful tremolo riff that appears in the latter half could have been expanded upon. Instead of a supporting role, it should have been featured more prominently as it is the strongest and most effective riff of the whole song.
Another shorter track follows this. "Oi Kallis Kotimaa" begins with a woeful guitar riff and it looks to be one of the more memorable ones of the album, initially. The clean guitar adds to the miserable atmosphere as well, but the vocal approach ruins it. This sounds like something that one would expect from Isengard or some other Viking Metal project. It certainly does not suit this song, or Horna at all. Even if I was in the mood for that type of music, this would not be my cup of tea. This song should have been scrapped.
"Pohjanportti" is another mid-paced song that seems kind of bland, until the middle. At that point, the pace gets even slower and some open chords are utilized to give the track a more dismal feeling. Unfortunately, this part is too brief and only appears again at the very end. Once again, this is a song that is decent but completely pales in comparison to the material on Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne.
The next song is "Sieluhaaska", which comes off as another average track that is pretty good but not great. Though the sound is raw and unpolished, one can hear what sounds like an almost folk-like melody with a more up-tempo feeling.
"Marraskuussa" is the highlight of the album, starting out with a haunting tremolo riff and soon transitioning to one that is even more miserable and desolate. Waves of misery and pain wash over you, dragging you to the abysmal depths and drowning you in utter grief and despair. You get the sense of no longer being able to breathe, as the mournful guitar riffs carve your flesh and the blood escapes your veins. The tortured vocals and the slower sections serve to create a morbid feeling, while you struggle to resist the horrible realization that it is all over. The hell that you are experiencing is eternal. Whatever good times you once enjoyed are forever gone and shall rapidly fade from your memory like a dream. In time, you will begin to question whether or not they ever existed, as the idea of anything pleasant will seem like some sort of product of your imagination. As the song draws to a conclusion, the woeful guitar melody confirms that nothing awaits you but suffering, and nothing else has ever existed.
The final track on here is "Menneiden Kaiku", which continues the gloomy journey into the depths of agony. You feel as if you are being pulled down or simply too weak to move. Your will is broken by this point and your spirit is weary. It is only a matter of time now. The grave is calling for you and nothing that you do will avoid this fate. Your feeble body shall fail you, and this world of misery will loosen its grip as you pass on to the realm of eternal pain and everlasting torment.
Musta Kaipuu is an interesting collection of songs. It possesses the consistency of a normal full-length album, as the material was written and recorded at the same time. On its own, it would be a decent record and only has one bad track. However, when compared to Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne, it becomes quite evident that only "Marraskuussa" is on the same level and is worth the price of the CD, alone. That being said, Musta Kaipuu works well as a companion to the aforementioned album and is certainly a safe buy for any Horna fan.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
Horna is one of those bands that the Black Metal community consider a common knowledge type of band, sticking to creating underground releases, whether they be a plethora of split releases with fellow bands of the style, full lengths, and so on. There was much confusion with the release of Musta Kaipuu, both within the Black Metal fanatics community, and outside of it, simply because many people believed this one to be another new full length release. Well, Musta Kaipuu may be a full-length release, but there's nothing too new about it, as it is a compilation of material that didn't make it to their 2005 full length release Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne. In late November of 2009, Moribund Records reissued this release, leaving the questions of whether this release was that good, or just something the band or labels put together for some quick cash.
Well, while it's not the worst release you'll ever hear, there's nothing that spectacular about it. The music on Musta Kaipuu definitely gives off the whole Satanic cold and grim feel to it, but musically some of the material does leave a lot to be desired. The openning track, "Piina", is phenomenal thanks to the guitar riffs throughout that give it a heaviness that really shines through. After that, the release starts to go downhill fast with plenty of speed bumps of tracks that are good all littered along the way. Take "Unohdetut Kasvot, Unohdettu Ääni" as the perfect example. The guitars are set up a lot like "Piina", though the distortion is higher and the quality of the song seems a little lower. Aside that, you have a rather fast paced track with some killer Black Metal riffs that doesn't seem to just drone on endlessly in a boring, repetative manner that "Haudanvarjo" presented. Given this, it shouldn't be shocking that the other longer track on here, "Sieluhaaska", is very well done as well and has a nice flow to it from start to finish without any repetition to really kill the song outside the very last set of guitar chords on it, but that's moreso for effect to close the song with. The same can literally be said about the closing instrumental track "Menneiden Kaiku".
"Oi Hallis Kotimaa" is perhaps the oddest track of the bunch, utilizing singing, and a chorus that would best fit in a Viking Metal act like Tyr, making this already pretty bad song sound even more lame, but at least this is the only track to get cheesy. But the funniest, and perhaps lamest thing of all, is the track "Pohjanportti". Instead of just not including this boring track all together, it was placed on here, but it is incomplete, as if the band realized while recording it that they need to just stop and scrap it, leaning more towards the concept that this release was mostly put together of cannon fodder. These are really the only hit the skip button on the play as soon as possible type tracks on this release. Sure some of the others on here, like "Vuohenlahko" and "Sieluhaaska" kind of feel as if the band really tried to stretch the track lengths and do get a little boring, at least they show a little more common sense musically.
To put it blunty, if you're a die hard Black Metal fan, chances are you're going to pick this one up anyhow and run around saying it's one of the best b-side compilation discs that were made available in this style. if you do, awesome, more power to you, but unfortunately if you're not too into the whole underground Black Metal scene, there's nothing really here you haven't heard before. With "Piina", "Unohdetut Kasvot, Unohdettu Ääni", "Marraskuussa" and the instrumental track "Menneiden Kaiku" really being the only tracks that are worth it, and the rest hitting the ground hard as a pretty standard quality of music.
Originally posted December 13th, 2009 on Apoch's Metal Review