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The period between 2002 and 2004 witnessed what could be called the rebirth of Horna, in a somewhat different form. It was around this time that Shatraug's songwriting abilities really began to take on a character of its own and the addition of Corvus, on vocals, added yet another integral piece. Musically, Horna continued to offer up grim slabs of raw black metal, yet it possessed a different feel than that of the band's earlier efforts. During the years where the band's sound was being redefined, several splits and mini-albums were issued, as Shatraug fine-tuned everything in preparation for the forthcoming full-length. Released in September 2003, through Woodcut Records, Viha Ja Viikate was the second E.P. to arise since Sudentaival.
The material on this release is very lo-fi and has sort of a necro feel, yet is more dynamic than some of Horna's influences. Though there are more than a few riff changes throughout the tracks, from blast beats to mid-paced sections, the dark vibe is always present. Songs like “Viha Ja Viikate” and “Ars Laternarum” have moments that hint at some kind of epic feeling, yet there is a down-tempo atmosphere that hangs over everything. This atmosphere of gloom is most noticeable on “Mustasiipinen”, which features a handful of sombre tremolo melodies. This is accentuated by the miserable vocals of Corvus, particularly as the song slows down a bit. There is a sense of desperation that comes through, imbuing the listener with a sense of hopelessness. The final track counteracts this a little, offering up a solid dose of '80s-inspired black metal that disrupts the flow to an extent, yet still maintains the same old school feeling that is present during the other songs. Why Horna decided to cover an old Carpathian Forest tune is unknown, but it is done well enough.
Production-wise, this represents a step in the right direction. This sounds much more raw and underground than the band's 2001 L.P. Still, Horna does not make the error of going too far and ruining any chance that the music has to make an impression by over-doing the necro sound, either. The guitars have a rough edge and a decent amount of fuzz, and are rather high in the mix. Not that the bass and drums are totally negligible, but the prime focus of this rests on the riffs and the vocal performance given by Corvus. Of course, with black metal, the drumming is not important anyway and is just there to keep time rather than to take over. Too many bands forget that it is all about the guitar melodies, rather than the rhythmic pounding that countless bands rely on.
Viha Ja Viikate is a worthwhile release and certainly belongs in the collection of any Horna fan, as well as anyone into raw black metal, in general. While it may be too bad that this is an E.P. instead of a full-length, the very minor inconsistencies prove that it was wise to wait a while longer before moving ahead with such a project. Pick this up if you can.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
Horna are one of those black metal bands that seem to never run out of riffs whether they be new, old, re-hashed, or slightly tweaked. I don't know how they can keep at putting out material at an alarming rate for the most part. Even though most of their EPs don't make it past the 5 song mark, I'm pretty sure that if you tallied all of Horna's EPs together you would have at least 3 full-length LP's.
The "Viha Ja Viikate" EP shows really Horna starts to up the ante and making more blazing and down-right demented black metal than their material being a cross between their two know styles; mid-tempo/changing tempo foot-tappers and straight-forward faster black metal. I'm not saying anything bad about their slower mid-tempo stuff which is catchy, but it doesn't even come close to matching the powerful riffs that Horna main man and musician/guitarist Shatraug is able to perform. It's not technical or progressive, but fuck....they way he performs it is amazing for what it is. New singer Corvus really brings that element of total fucking darkness to the Horna camp which Nazgul(a.k.a. Satanic Tyrant Werewolf) was lacking and where he went for a more sickening approach. Corvus sounds like he is stranded out in the middle of a snowstorm in the mountians between Finnland and Russia where the coldness know no bounds, screaming out in madness through the thick blanket of darkness. Another new member is 2nd guitarist Infection which is great because he just adds to the catastrophic melodies of Shatraug. Not to mention he is also performing bass duties. Drummer Gorthaur goes off on a high note here seeing how this would be his last with the Horna horde and it sucks that he didn't stay because he has progressed a LOT since Horna's early days. Here he sounds like he knows what he is doing and is able to do it gracefully and then some.
For only 4 songs you get the idea that Horna are headed towards and even darkened future.
1. Viha ja viikate - Starts off with guitar feeback and then BOOM! Blast-beats and melodies are abound which gives away to a more riff-based gallop. Not to much as Maiden as it's definitely more Bathory. Between the verses which is blazing fast black metal are the mid-tempo breaks and even a Celtic Frost-style breakdown.
2. Ars Laternarum - FUCK ME! THIS is what black metal should sound like. This song just speeds right through and hits you like a ton of bricks. The best song on "Viha Ja Viikate". Shatraug's riffs, Corvus' vocals, and even Gorthaur hit it note-by-note and hit it perfectly. It's a 4 minute and 32 second song that is filled with nothing but epic riffs and insane blast beats/double bass assault, and vocals that will have you thinking is Corvus going to completely blow his voice box out. The double bass rolls and melodic guitar breaks from 1:32 to 2:57 and then total blast beat-o-rama is nothing short of genius. Get this EP for this song alone. One of my top 5 favorite Horna tracks. Pure fucking evil and total hatred!
3. Mustasiipinen - You think Horna would try to top the previous song, but no. They in turn pull out a song with some of the most twisted melodies I've heard a black metal band use. Tempo changes and everything. This song is very anxiety-ridden.
4. Kun 1000 Kuuta On Kiertänyt - This is a Carpathian Forest cover which is total Celtic Frost worship, as heard when Corvus does a Tom G. Warrior grunt. Also the production is totally different where you can really hear the bottom end of the bass drums and bass itself. Good cover considering I'm not much for Carpathian's rock n' roll take on black metal.
Horna is not really the band of variety but when they do show a variety of traditional black metal riffs, it keeps things from becoming boring as shit. 3 songs, 1 being completely amazing and the other two that's not even in the same style as their older material previous to the EP, and a cover of a band whom I don't care for, it's a great display of progress from a band who has always been pretty damn traditional when it comes to black metal.
The only downside I would say to this EP is the artwork. Hand-drawn cheesiness which in reality isn't one of Horna's forte's. But when you listen to the songs, you completely forget about it so minus 10 points there. I would also take points off for the Carpathian Forest cover, but seeing how it's a fuck load better than the original nothing is deducted. All and all, excellent material from an excellent band.
I picked this EP up in a Copro-direct cleanout sale for £3.99, I had previously heard of their split with Behexen of whom I am rather fond so I decided they were worth checking out- I wasn’t to be disappointed , the production here isn’t as low as most would probably like from their black metal releases, but it is done tastefully and over-production is certainly isn’t an issue, overall the songs are very cohesive with each other without being monotonous. It’s a pity this is only 15 minutes long, as a full-length in this vain would be an excellent addition to the Finnish scene, nevertheless, Horna are renowned for their EP’s, so it is fine
Firstly, I must comment on the fact I find the artwork incredibly appealing, it has an aura of melancholy to it which I find interesting.
Viha ja viikate
This mid-paced track begins with quite a catchy guitar riff, which is actually, as black metal songs go, quite easy to get stuck in your head, the vocals soon begin, and are very good.Ihe drumming on display in this song is average, and nothing anyone who has heard bands much as Keep of Kalessin or Darkthrone hasn’t heard a hundred times before, the verses seem to be slower than the riffs between with a much more epic sounding musical backing. Well, admittedly there are only two riffs in this whole song really, with some drum rolls right at the end, which make this a quite interesting introduction to the EP.
This song starts with a much more “frantic” series of riffs with average, verging on predictable at times, drumming as before- this remains consistent throughout the song, though there is a refreshing, albeit brief change at about 1.10, a while later the riff altars ever so slightly, there is certainly a hard rock influence within Hornas music which becomes quite tangible during the tracks on this EP (though it is fair to say this is the only Horna record I have heard, so feel free to correct me)
The third track bursts straight into the vocals, once again with the same riff over and over again- I would love to comment on Horna’s lyrics but alas, the entire album is in Finnish, this song is more fast paced than the others on this EP, the lack of variation in riffs is also apparent on this track, but the atmosphere of desperation Horna create seems to discard any worries about this kind of thing, the riff changes during the third minute however, this riff then remoulds again beneath of the surface of the consistent vocals, which lack variety- but then, that’s never really being a pre-requisite of a good vocalist.
Kun 1000 Kuuta On Kiertanyt
The final song featured is a Carpathian Forest cover, I believe, which has being translated into Finnish, having not heard the original to my knowledge, I cannot compare them, nevertheless, this song is catchy, and it is perhaps easy to see in retrospect that Carpathian Forest have a lot of influence on Horna, whether this is because Horna adapted the track to their own style or not.
In conclusion, this is a fine piece of black metal from Finland, Hornas riff aren’t that diverse. But all in all, no one said they needed to be, an excellent quarter of an hour of music, which I think people from all areas of the black metal spectrum can enjoy-, go buy