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Released in October 2002, Risti Ja Ruoska was the first official post-Nazgul recording and served as a means to get the band back on track and to test out Horna's new vocalist, Corvus. This effort does well to bridge the first and second periods of the band's existence. Obviously, there was never a truly drastic change, as certain elements have always remained, and yet the character of Horna underwent some sort of transformation after Sudentaival. As the band had become kind of predictable and the sound quality was getting ever closer to the realm where such useless bands as Marduk and Dark Funeral were dwelling, Shatraug took a rather sharp turn and returned to the bloody and filthy roots of Horna, which were firmly entrenched in the old school black metal sound of the late '80s and early '90s.
This E.P. features only two songs, yet it manages to speak volumes. For starters, Corvus establishes himself as a very distinctive voice for the band, as opposed to just someone to fill the shoes of his predecessor. In some ways, he keeps to the higher-pitched territory favoured by Nazgul, yet his voice is much more strained and miserable-sounding. This is more evident on the title track. He seems to be completely possessed by some horrible anguish that can hardly be contained, adding something quite needed to the ever-more-mournful guitar melodies unleashed by Shatraug. In truth, it can be said that this unholy union took place at the perfect moment. Just as Horna's creator was truly finding his voice as a composer, he was joined by a man whose literal voice suited that in a way that Nazgul simply could not. The music is sombre and features the same influences as before, yet sounds somewhat more unique than certain older releases. In a sense, this E.P. represents a band that has regressed and become even more primitive. The necro production job accentuates this feeling, dimly illuminating these musical ideas in a gloomy manner.
For those that tend to stick to the full-length releases of a band and to ignore everything else, as is easy to do with a band like Horna, that would be a dreadful mistake in this case. Risti Ja Ruoska may be short, yet this will satisfy all those that seek truly grim and hateful black metal. The fact that there are only two songs only leaves you wanting more, which is a good thing. As Shatraug progressed with Sargeist and Horna, the atmosphere was to become blacker than darkness, something that really began to take shape on this E.P. Seek this out, by all means, and let the raw and miserable black metal wash over you like the rotten blood of an ancient sacrifice long forgotten.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
Another day, another EP and another dollar must be the official slogan for Finnish black metalers Horna. They are a band which operates at a tremendous and almost blitzkrieg rate of putting out material under the black metal radar. For this you have to give credit where credit is due. You would think Horna would succumb to creative burn-out but no. Thankfully these guys go at their own pace that would make a lot of other acts running back home. Horna's favorite format of satanic offering is the EP, and there are two and ONLY two types of EP’s you might get with Horna;
Type A. Different versions of songs that have appeared on a different format from some past demo or will appear on a future full length release or Best of/Compilation.
Type B. Completely new material.
Up until “Risti Ja Ruoska” we have seen a total of 3 splits with other bands, 3 full length LPs, 3 demos, 2 Eps, and 1 Best Of/Compilation. Majority of this has been ranging from the somewhat piss-poor for total diehards (“Perimä Vihassa Ja Verikostossa”EP) to absolutely memorable that everyone NEEDS to hear (“Hiidentorni” demo), so we know that Horna are capable of throwing a curve ball every once in a while. Taken their influences being Beherit, Darkthrone, Gorgoroth, and the likes, we also know the two different styles of which Horna plays: slow mid-tempo and blazing fast with lot of epic riffs. Me personally I don’t have a preference, but I do admire the faster epic-sounding songs. Reason is that mainly main member Shatraug has the ability to pull-off simplistic black metal riffing that gets the job done.
On “Risti Ja Ruoska” we get 2 brand new songs from the Horna camp and here they are pulling no surprises. The only thing that sticks out about this E.P. is that this IS the first of new front man Corvus. Where Nazgul a.k.a. Satanic Tyrant Werewolf of Satanic Warmaster fame had trouble pulling off certain singing parts in trying to push Horna’s musical delivery, Corvus just makes Horna sound more demented than ever.
There are only two songs on this EP and it’s nothing more than a teaser. “Rynnäkköön!” is the slower mid-tempo song while “Risti Ja Ruoska” being the faster one. Again, no surprises pulled here outside of Shatraug’s progress as a guitar player and Corvus’ painful raspy screams. The sound quality is very much like on their amazing “Hiidentorni” demo which is always good. The EP doesn’t hold any form of cover art for the most part, but again, this EP is just a teaser.
In terms of where I would rank this amongst Horna’s other material, it’s very fair-sounding stuff. It doesn’t promise you anything. It’s nowhere near “Viha Ja Viikate” which is their best EP to date, but thankfully it’s nowhere near the piss-poor “Perimä Vihassa Ja Verikostossa” EP. Thank Satan for that. Another EP for die-hard Horna collectors only.