Horna - Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne - 2005 - The End/Woodcut Records
1. Vihan Tie 2. Musta Temppeli 3. Vala Pedolle 4. Kirous ja Malja 5. Saastainen Kaste 6. Kuoleva Lupaus 7. Zythifer 8. Kuilunkenki
Horna may seem like your typical black metal band at first, but they’re certainly not your typical Finnish black metal band. In my experience, most of the “black metal” bands from Finland really aren’t black metal – they’re just heavily influenced by it. Usually these bands then mix in industrial (Shade Empire), folk (Finntroll), or even death-grind (Impaled Nazarene) elements to create some very unique sounds. Horna, on the other hand, play a much rawer (Old-school, if you like) brand of black metal. These guys have been together since 1994 (when the “second wave” of black metal bands began to launch in Norway and other parts of Europe) and have released countless demos, 7”s and LPs over the years. In addition, Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne is their sixth full length release – these guys have obviously kept busy. Sans influences from other genres, making something that sounds unique in the black metal world is tough these days. That’s why I commend Horna for doing just that.
On of my favorite things about Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne is the fact that EVERYTHING is in Finnish - album title, song titles, lyrics, the whole shebang. Oftentimes you’ll hear me criticize bands for really bland lyrics – especially in black metal. To me (and all the non-Finnish listeners out there) Horna’s lyrics seem really awesome because you have no idea what they’re saying. Finnish does sound pretty damn cool though. Whether the lyrics are actually good or not I may never no, but that’s not really what’s important. What matters is that they go amazingly well with the music. Vocalist Corvus has a very raspy shriek that reminds me a lot of Nattefrost’s voice. The vocals, however, aren’t played up as much as there are in Carpathian Forest (on Nattefrost’s solo work, for that matter) so as a result, they blend smoothly into the riffs. Instead of creating contrast, Horna have created a harmony between the vocals and instruments, something that isn’t often done in rawer black metal. In fact, this approach (though by no means the sound) reminds me a bit of Varg Vikernes’ efforts on his first Burzum release.
Speaking of the guitars – they’re excellent as well. On the title track, “Vihan Tie,” guitarist Shatraug alternates between the typical de-tuned stuff and a very sharp, higher-pitched riff that sounds like a belt sander. Throughout the rest of the album he similarly mixes things up, using various different techniques and styles while remaining squarely in the realm of black metal riffing. This is definetley some of the more creative guitar work from any old-school black metal band that I’ve heard in a while. As for the drums – “intense” is really the only word out there to describe them. Gorthaur (who was formerly a member of Battlelore) is relentless throughout the album – he doesn’t seem to slow down once, not even when the music does. After several listens, I’ve concluded that while what Horna have created isn’t a masterpiece, it’s one of the better raw black metal releases of the decade thus far. It almost matches up to some of my classic (well, early and mid 90s) favorites, which is really saying something. An essential piece for the collections of black metal fans everywhere.
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