Frost, darkness, pain, murder, metal spikes, HORNA; all of these are Black fucking Metal, some of which considerably more so than the rest. “Ääniä Yössä” is Black Metal cranked to 11, firing on all cylinders and piling up corpses faster than Charles Manson. There are listless albums which show only the faintest signs of life akin to that of a worm writhing on the ground, and then there are efforts such as this which convey such a feel of morose and despair that I can only cringe even contemplating the entirety of this mind-fuck.
I did not awake hearing this album crying “Chaaaarlie! Chaaaaaaaarlie!” much like a fellow reviewer, but my battered ears know classic work when they hear it. Even without an accompanying band to aid in the recording, SARGEIST’s Shatraug manages to pull off a host of sweeping riffs which grip you from the get-go and pull you into this bleak world of chaos and fear as medieval Europe literally begins to waste away before your eyes. The actual musicianship is quite stellar yet is not anything even remotely new; rather, the innovation occurs through complex and moving atmosphere which manages to so often separate a mediocre release from that of quality. As my eyes close and HORNA take control, I can almost smell the scent of corpses long piled up on the street and nature taking its course.
With such a bare and uninviting feel, “Ääniä Yössä” can be a difficult album to experience. Shatraug’s melodies are absolutely fantastic, yet compositions may stretch out to 8+ minutes relying on a couple of riffs which when taken at face value may fall far below expectations. Similarly, Corvus’ echoed wailings provide excellent albeit repetitive fore-ground material, yet serve a greater purpose melding into the foundation of the subdued rhythmic blast-beats and forming a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts. The title track is a perfect example of the aforementioned compositional approach in which a handful of musical idea is stretched into a 22 minute grandiose tale which demands to be heard for its sheer audacity and cunning manipulation. While “Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne” was a bit catchier and easier to digest, this long-delayed epic requires concentration and attention to detail. This is what provides for such a unique ride and formulates the experience that is much more than a simple collection of 4 tracks.
You may scoff at this release for being overly indulgent and a bit too repetitive and back-ward thinking to remain competitive with what contemporary projects are pushing across the air-waves. I, however, will remain glued to my speakers soaking in every single note of brilliance and smirking silently as I recall a particularly apt saying from a film I am quite fond of: “We may be through with the past…but the past is not through with us.”
(Online March 20, 2007)