HORNA has been around for a little longer than a decade now (12 years) and I've known about them for some time now but the only time I really started to pay attention to them was when I heard "Haudankylmyyden Maille" that album floored me with its exceptional riffs, tight drumming, tempo changes and fantastic song writing. After about a million splits and EPs HORNA came back with their 4th full length "Sudentaival" and I was supremely disappointed, it seems that whatever magic(k) Shatraug, Corvus and crew caught on "Haudankylmyyden Maille" broke out from its bottle and took off without anyone expecting it.
A few years later HORNA went back to the drawing board and created "Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne" (gotta love copy and paste for these names) and with it brought back some of my love for them, while not exceptional, it was solid and after all much better than "Sudentaival". Well life went on and I heard earlier this year that HORNA was releasing another album titled "Ääniä Yössä", as you can imagine, I was a bit skeptical and doubted if this album warranted a purchase or not. Well, a friend of mine went ahead and got me the super neato A5 case edition of "Ääniä Yössä" because of our success recording together. I went home and left it in the wrapping and really didn't have too many intentions I putting it on my "must listen" list, for I had many more albums to hear.
But late at night, or in the wee hours of the mourning, I heard callings for my name, "Sam! Sam!" and when I awoke, I saw no one around, only darkness and the blue glow from my stereo. The callings kept happening, and over the next few weeks I developed this strong desire to listen to the new HORNA, "Perhaps" I thought "this is a sign from God...to listen to...Black Metal?" So I decided to go home and listen to it and immediately, and I don't mean as in a few songs I was grooving along with the dark atmosphere, I mean immediately, I was rocking out. Within seconds of listening!
"Ääniä Yössä" was created, mixed and mastered way back in the good old year of 2004. Why the delay? Why the hidden album? Why the overly long song titles? While I pondered these questions, I realized, in the grand scheme of things, these question are worthless; and in and of themselves don't require answers. I had reached a point of HORNA enlightenment, a Hornenlightenment, if you will.
"Ääniä Yössä" is a concept album based on the concept of The Black Plague, which more or less killed around 75 Million people in the 14th century. Which, is actually a perfect concept for this album, the whole album has a feel of death and decay, while keeping a feeling of utter hopelessness and fear. Not just something that induces fear, but something that fears, it sounds as if "Ääniä Yössä" is something that is afraid of the plague, afraid of death or afraid to live another day in suffering. Yeah...it's that good. The vocals are all in Finnish, adding to the dreary, foreboding atmosphere of the album, and they perfectly accent the music, Corvus's vocals are truly menacing and sound as if he fears, causes fear, and sees these horrible scenes around him.
Now, my good friends, we move onto the music. The album begins with the sound of rats, and quickly moves into the cold, dense sounds of "Raiskattu Saastaisessa Valossa". This is a fairly slow title that has a killer droning groove to it, and utterly evil vocals, which are so hellacious on this track, echoing in and out of sound while still remaining menacing. The static drumming of this song is more akin to Rock'n'Roll and Doom metal than to Black, but fuck it, it all sounds so damn good together! Long Live the Black Metal Rock Out!
The second track, "Noutajan Kutsu", is the shortest on the album, clocking in at only(?) 5 minutes, but it retains the kick ass Black K-holed filth of the first song and ups the rockin' factor to 11. This is a headbanging song through and through, (although it would seem out of place to headbang anyway...) the riffing is simply brilliant, Shatraug has outdone himself on every level on this album, and this song is a perfect example of straight up Black Fucking Metal, the way that good old mom and pop Black Metal a la DARKTHRONE used to make (more on that later)
While "Mustan Surman Rukous" is a great song (obviously, due to the 10 points): I don't want this review to become ridiculously long so I'm going straight for the throat with the title track. One word can describe this song, IMMENSE, the riff doesn't change for literally about 4 minutes into the song, and then it only varies, moving back into the droning Rock Out. The whole track is a perfect example of Black Finnish Filth (thank you Nathan T. Birk). Understanding the perfect balance between DARKTHRONE's "Transylvanian Hunger" and let's say, THE CLASH's "London Calling". Shatraug milks about three riffs and a few variations over the whole 22 minute track.
I've heard some kids call this "repetitive" or "unoriginal" they've missed the entire point. HORNA wanted to create something that was not only minimalist, but BASKED in its minimalism! HORNA took what they had, cranked up the groove to 10 and pumped its veins full of Black Filth. Kid's these days; they just don't get, or can't handle it. This isn't your scene friendly Black Metal, this isn't your new fangled Symphonic Metal. This is some of the most diabolical and powerful (Finnish) Filth money can buy and believe you me, it's worth every penny. Because kids, they just don't make it like this anymore.
(Online December 19, 2006)