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Horna and Musta Surma reunited once again to bring us another split, but this time consisting of demos. Musta Surma's side is their 97' demo and Horna's one is a rerecording of their Varjoissa demo. With a cover as great as this one, a forest landscape at dusk, you can only hope it has the atmosphere to fit in and believe me, it does.
So side A is Musta Surma's side which doesn't sound too different from their following works. ''Kristuksen Veri Maljoissamme'' starts with some eerie sound with someone speaking briefly and then breaks in with full speed. But a question you will soon ask yourself is: «Is this really a demo? ». The production isn't that bad and could be the one of any black metal who doesn't try to sound like crap. The songs themselves aren't too primitive; they already had an idea of what to play and how to execute it. So the first track clocking at 7 minutes isn't the same two or three riffs played all over again for the sake of being repetitive. It is actually quite varied and offers a good mix between fast picked riffs and normal ones. Same for the drummer, there is a good use of cymbals and there is enough variation to keep you interested.
And it's the same thing for the rest of the album, they don't bore you to death with the same riffs and a drummer who seems so proud to be able to play a beat, he uses the same throughout the whole song. The riffs are repetitive when needed, they are effectively chosen and they doesn't try to sound melancholic, evil, cold or hateful for the sake of it or just trying too hard, but they create their own sound and atmosphere. Well it's black metal and they are from the elitist type, so this is nothing original but they doesn't try to sound like copycats. There may be only the beginning riff of ''Pedon Uneen'' which seems like a cliché riff but other than that they have their identity.
Vocal-wise, I've never heard anything like Thyrgrimmr does, it's not your ordinary high-pitched vocals. He isn't overly original but has... like a different tone, as if his vocals were choked at times or as if he was screaming through a pillow. And he doesn't sound too evil which clearly is a good thing here. There is almost no variation except for the occasional more ''monstrous'' vocals. It's not much of a problem since I find his style interesting.
As for the guitar, like I said, is varied; it's not your fast-picking fest many black metal bands have the tendency to do. Some riffs are also quite interesting, they sound mysterious or ''mysteriously evil'' at times. They doesn't sound particularly evil, cold, hateful or melancholic though sometimes they do, but that's a good thing as they create a unique atmosphere. You'll absolutely want to do your nocturnal walk while listening to this (or just while coming back late from work but that's less grim and misanthropic).
So it's really a focused work here by Musta Surma, they know where they are going and they do it right without trying too hard or sounding too evil for their own good. This being only a demo, you'll wonder why it wasn't released as a mini-album. It got a great atmosphere and has enough variation to keep you interested in from the beginning to the end, you'll definitely have to check this out.
Now on to side B, Horna. I'm wondering if it's truly a rerecording from 2002 as Corvus (if it's him) sounds a lot worse than usual but at the same time better because the production isn't too much under-produced as Horna unfortunately did on later releases. And speaking of production, it is quite different from anything they have done before and sounds a little worse, Hiidentorni sounds a lot better compared to it. But seeing how Horna's sound changed following Sudentaival it wouldn’t come as a surprise.
This demo is a little suprising, it's not your usual hate-filled, evil Horna. They always had some more atmospheric and melancholic passages and this is clearly where it comes from. Varjoissa doesn't sound evil a second which is good for a change and fits well with the overall sound and atmosphere the split has. It is less focused than Musta Surma's demo but as it doesn't sound like one, Horna's does. It still sounds good for a demo and shows it's not the first time the guys from Horna wrote music.
The first thing you'll notice is the vocals. It's more whining and crying than anything else (much like a child learning how to ride his bike who just fell and hurt himself) with some tentative of haunting chants. It's annoying but once you'll get used to it, you'll be able to better appreciate the music.
Musically, it is very comparable to Musta Surma's demo; the guitar and drum playing isn't too different but less interesting. The atmosphere here is different yet similar to what Musta Surma did, Horna being more melancholic and them mysterious. The bass here is also audible.
Horna's demo is a nice one, a must for any fan (or pre-Corvus fan) but strangely, not as good as Musta Surma's. It clearly shows them at another period, not as primitive as an early band's demo could make you think and makes you think the original tape could be well worth hunting down.
All in all this split is a great addition to your black metal collection, a little gem; it shows two great bands at their early stage, not too different from each other in their playing style, but creating complementary moods. Just look at that cover again!