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Horribook Shitan - 10%

Under_The_Oak, May 12th, 2012

This is, without a doubt, one of the worst "releases" I have ever had the displeasure of hearing. I'm being generous even giving it a 10/100, and I do so only because there are sparse moments of actual music. The overwhelming majority of Hornbook Seytan is filled with a never-ending rumbling noise, with intermittent ambient sounds, and rarely, but surely, some instruments and vocals.

Now, I have no problem with ambient music or gritty black metal. I like Dethrone the Son of God quite a lot, and the haunting ambience in bands like Darkspace is excellent. However, this EP appears to be a haphazard and messy mish-mash of some of Havohej's other recordings. For some odd reason, after a bit of rumbling noise, "Hornbook" starts off with the cover of Venom's song "Leave Me in Hell" from the Man and Jinn EP, then goes into additional music. "Seytan" is a completely ambient track.

In other words, Hornbook Seytan is an utter waste, save for what little minimalistic black metal is buried beneath the layers of annoying rumbling shit. It feels almost like Paul Ledney put this out as part of a bet to see what horrendously thoughtless recycled garbage Hells Headbangers would release and his fans would buy. I can appreciate anti-musical music, but this has no meaningful aesthetic to it; it's simply a steaming pile of failure.

Something to end to - 70%

autothrall, February 6th, 2010

Paul Ledney has continued to refine his addiction to noise over the years, having long since abandoned the rigid black metal that anointed his cult classic Dethrone the Son of God album for a more raucous, experimental schematic that repackages the origins of the medium with a unique, visceral, haunting abandon. Hornbook Seytan is one of several short-play releases in his catalog, a two track journey into dementia released on 10" vinyl in limited quantities, and understandably, as there are very few people who dwell this far out on the fringe.

There are but two tracks here, with about 16 minutes of total music, but both give plenty of time to inhale their noisy nightmare fumes. "Hornbook" is an avalanche of dense sonic throughput smothering a rather weak drum beat and suicidal, terrifying vocals, interspersed with interesting breaks. At around 1:40, the break takes the form of tonal ringing and then even an abyssal, whale-like noise as the track cycles back into the waves of terror that feel like your ears caving in. After 4 minutes come the sounds of bedlam in the form of sampled pandemonium, like a vortex of souls has blown forward, a tornado interrupting the normal progression of the already hectic music. "Seytan" is a longer piece, with only faint traces of ambiance (no vocals) to guide the hoarse nuclear wind eruptions. I find this the more meditative of the two, but at the same time there is no surprise waiting beneath the surface as with "Hornbook".

Havohej is always fucked, it's simply a matter of varying degrees of fuckedness. The compositions of Hornbook Seytan are probably not the darkest or most disturbing that he's released, but they rank fairly far to the right of the scale. Despite their deceptive simplicity, both of the tracks operate at the most pensive level, as wellsprings of the macabre imagination. Perhaps more for fans of experimental noise than black metal, Ledney is one of the best in the business at finding a point between the two in which to carve his niche. The two tracks here make for a fine prelude to the great 2nd full-length Kembatinan Premaster, which follows a similar theme and has more to offer (over 30 minutes more), so if you've heard this and not been frightened away, seek that out, you won't regret it.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com