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Paradisical moments, but hardly heavenly - 50%

BM_DM, October 17th, 2008

As a debut full-length release, Icelandic trio Finngálkn's 'Horns Against Heaven' impresses in parts. Most tracks have stand-out moments: for example, album-opener 'Perverter of Divinity' has an exciting introduction that builds the listener's expectation most effectively. The following track, 'Their Broken Monuments' features an arresting riff around the 1:15 mark. Third track 'Glorificus Inferi' starts swaggeringly with the rhythmic repetition of a thundering open chord and a descending single-string melodic motif, whilst ‘Blackened Bones’ offers up a crisply structured strummed riff sequence after a minute or so.

Despite bearing more than a passing resemblance to Darkthrone’s excellent ‘Sardonic Wrath’ both lyrically and musically, ultimately Finngálkn’s debut is a most unsatisfying release. This is due in no small part to the fact that most tracks make recourse at some point to an ugly hard rock motif or two which does not sit well within the overarching black metal aesthetic that the band has chosen to adopt. An unhappy synthesis, the rock and black metal elements conjoin to form as harmonious an amalgamate as that made by mixing oil and water.

The clear production, precise pitch and orderly tempi of ‘Horns Against Heaven’ hint at its having been treated with ProTools or something similar, and serves to shine a harsh and unforgiving light upon the scant ideas around which most of the release’s tracks have been structured. Other songs persist in reprising themes that whilst unobjectionable in themselves ultimately transgress by grossly outstaying their welcome. The seemingly interminable conclusion to the instrumental title track is a fine example of this shortcoming, which lingers on to the point where you want to put it out of its misery by taking it round the back of your stereo and clubbing it to death.

Finngálkn should persevere, although they may wish to consider undertaking some alterations to their approach. Firstly, they need to take their sound outside and roll it around in the dirt for a while. Next, they need to ensure that they contain their desire to release their sophomore album until they are in possession of sufficient ideas to merit entering the recording studio. If they adhere to both of these precepts, then it is not inconceivable that they could produce something interesting in the future.

[Edited 17/10/08]