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Melodic melancholy from the frozen fields of Finland - 90%

Lord Van Vernon, May 10th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2020, CD, Naturmacht Productions (Limited edition)

I was very excited to listen to Havukruunu's third full-length album after their previous works which has been rightly praised as some of the best Finnish black metal of recent years. Havukruunu has been able to meld together folk instrumentation and atmospheric interludes with the furious assault of black metal, while also adding in some beautiful Finnish lyrics that are clearly inspired by the nations national epics and classic literary works.

The band is clearly influenced by the genre's greats like Bathory and Immortal, but they are able to find their own sound and convey it with a sincerity rarely found in modern black metal, which has a tendency to degenerate into the same tremolo picked chords we've heard a trillion times since the 1990s. Riffs are memorable and catchy and the album has great variety in it's songs. Many have chilling, shouted choruses which evoke a feeling of power metal and the many solos are appropiate, emotional and impactful and never sink into musical masturbation.

Each song progresses naturally, changing tempos and moods instantly without being jarring, drawing comparisons to the almighty Bathory and their 1991 magnum opus Twilight of the Gods. This isn't a far-fetched connection, seeing how the sixth track "Jumalten hämär" is a direct translation of the Bathory classic's title. Indeed, this record draws a great deal of influence from Bathory's Viking era albums but also mixes it up with the classic Norwegian sound as well as their own Finnish style which all come together to create a sound unique to Havukruunu.

The guitars are powerful and crunchy, sounding like a powerful river flowing in the Northern wilderness. The drums pound percussive beats like thunder and the bass guitar binds them all together like the undergrowth of a Finnish forest. Axeman Stefan's vocals are powerful and clear, easily intelligible for Finnish speakers while maintaining roughness endemic to black metal shrieking.

There's no devil worshipping or really even evil to be found here. The well-thought out and beautifully written lyrics deal with heartbeak, emotions, loss and the northern wilderness in a way that creates true awe. They create a true feeling of longing, and together with the music generate an mental image of Finland, it's nature and people. Indeed, there's something quintessentiallly Finnish about this album, something that only a Finn could create and fully understand.

I've been listening to this album for months now and I'm confident to call Uinuos Syömein Sota a modern masterpiece. Right from the opening chant to the closing fade this album does not let down. When asked what black metal is about, I like to think about an album like this one, a sincere expression of emotions and musicianship. A profound statement of intent and a reassurance of the fact that black metal has more to say than a one-note diatribe about the evils of organized religion.