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Brilliant for all the wrong reasons - 90%

Noktorn, June 10th, 2009

You'll never hear this but it doesn't matter because you really wouldn't like it anyway: the playing is only mediocre in the best of times, the drum machine is tinny and mostly inaudible, and the sound quality overall leaves much to be desired. In spite of, hell, perhaps partially due to these reasons, I've been listening to this more than anything over the past week or so.

Honor Pugnae is richly melodic and passionate black metal; a lone guitar seems to form the only melodic voice, but it's enough. Textured and primeval riffing, though poorly played, communicates the ideals of the music perfectly: pride, nationalism, and an absolute sense of self. The music is simple: a drum machine ticks away in the background while the riffs form the body of the sound and strangely distorted, almost semi-clean, gibbering vocals hover and buzz around the center. It's raw, unformed, immature music and I wouldn't have it any other way. The tracks are laid out in riff slideshow structure, with abrupt slowdowns and sudden melodic shifts (though still surprisingly coherent) being a typical feature. It's hardly nuanced and professional.

A lot of people put forth the argument that passion is, to some degree, inversely proportional to professionalism. I don't necessarily think it's always true, but I do think that Honor Pugnae's music would be much less remarkable were it constructed in a more 'logical' way. The strange jangle of vocals tossed carelessly into a morass of lovingly composed and crudely played textured riffs works in the same way that Nekrokrist SS does: it's not simply endearing or charming due to its primitivity, but that primitivity is used to accentuate the glory and pride of the music itself.

Your enjoyment of this music is really based off perspective, and I fully imagine that most people do not have the sort of perspective which would make this any more than mostly incompetent, amateurish music. If you can see it from the perspective of strange people making demos in their bedrooms as paeans to something greater, though, you might understand it. Musically this has a superficial resemblance to bands like Kristallnacht, Nargaroth, or Taake, but none of that tells you what form Honor Pugnae actually takes.

If you can listen to this the way it should be listened to, give it a try. If Emperor verges on being too raw, you'll certainly not want this one. I love it on an unreasonable and illogical level, with the sort of passion that the music itself possesses in spades.