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Bravo for Finnish Black Metal. - 100%

ozzeh, February 8th, 2019

Clocking in at 19:18 long, To Conceal the Horns manage to release a masterpiece. After the mandatory 3 minute intro is up, the Finns unleash a sonic onslaught. Or I should say Finn, because it's remarkably a one man project. This short EP is comprised of one song, and while intros and outros are generally not my favorite thing, the actual 16 minutes of solid black metal more than make up for it.

The production is rich, lush, layered, and hits like a sledge hammer once the treble and boost kick in. That's because "Transformaation..." starts off cavernous and deliberately cold sounding, only to explode sonically once the delay-saturated leads slice through the mix. Then automatically back to tremolo-picked leads and complex drum rolls. The production is excellent and it goes to show that truly elite black metal can, and should, evolve from melancholy to aggression and back again. In a genre full of repetition, To Conceal the Horns manage to capture my short-attention span the entire time.

The vocals are emotive and convey the essence of "Transformaation..." in a non-cloying way. Vocally, they're shouts of anguish, tonally accentuated with the tempo changes in perfect cadence. An acoustic segue fills the half-way mark only to be met with intense drumming, and even more intense lead guitar riffs and leads. "Transformaation..." falls musically into the realm of melodic without losing an ounce of metallic alloy.

Higher pitched shrieks do complement the mid-range anguished shouts. As far as black metal goes, I vocally prefer evil screams or tortured howls. Either way it works for me, but To Conceal the Horns falls mostly into the latter category. And while most people's complaints center around vocals in black metal, I feel as though on that level of guitar tone frequency, nothing else would fit the music. So in that spirit, the vocals are non-parodic and well-suited.

Black metal ought to invoke the emotions, and specifically: aggression or depression. The cover art is beautiful and it suits the music perfectly: it's dark, beautiful, and haunting. The music is bombastic in it's overall atmosphere, but not in an irritating, sugary sweet way. It's dynamic in the tempo changes and how it flows. "Transformaation..." drifts between cold, bleak and simplistic tremolo leads to soaring, saturated and beautiful minor key lead melodies.

Completely devoid of symphonically-laden clichèd elements, yet maintaining the complexity of Baroque classical music, To Conceal the Horns have produced a spell-binding EP. You can actually be symphonic with piano accents durimg the intro and outro, and by having complex melodies comprised of melodic guitars. If you like this, also check out Drudkh's "Somewhere Sadness Wanders."