Frenzy juxtaposed brooding chaos is a meal certainly the meek should avoid. The duality of two similar projects presenting decidedly varied material results in a deep and thorough experience focused primarily on mood and secondarily on kicking your ass with such ferocious melodies and riffs that your skull will be pounding for days. The Finnish Black Metal scene is quickly staking a claim for the most sophisticated and interesting of the bunch and this split is certainly one of the musical pieces leading the charge.
HORNA takes control immediately with the excellent “Näkyjen Tuhkasta” which punches you in the mouth and serves as a poignant indicator of what is to come. The frantic riffing found within continually alternates between brief melodies, maintaining momentum throughout with a plethora of tempo changes. This is a microcosm for the first half of the LP as each song repeatedly slams into your fucking skull with Corvus screaming his goddamn heart out like a resident of Abu Ghraib. This is easily his most harrowed performance caught on tape and it even challenges the intense presence of Varg Vikernes.
The psychotic and delusional atmosphere born from the melodies truly shines in stark contrast to the more deliberate feel projected by the second half of the album. The sound and evocative atmosphere of each portion plays off its opposite to a point where the whole is strengthened due to the integrity of its pieces. This alternate mood is readily apparent due to the fact that in the former’s case the riffs themselves serve as the driving force behind the atmosphere, almost as if the color is a by-product of the musicianship overtly. BEHEXEN’s approach on the other hand is establishing atmosphere and an identifiable emotion and then framing the different parts of the compositions around this intangible focus; two very different techniques which help manifest variety in a very creative and artistic direction.
The 3 tracks offered by BEHEXEN are also considerably slower than their counterparts. The intense presence of fear and despair is instantly recognizable as the listener is beckoned on a journey of monumental proportions. Songs like “Beyond The Shadow Of My Lord” are slightly more repetitive but the song-writing is inventive enough to maintain rapture. This material is definitely more depressing and unsettling than the more manic sound crafted on “By The Blessing Of Satan” and it works particularly well when confined to a smaller time-frame and placed on a split with conflicting material.
In essence, this may very well be one of the best splits ever released. The interplay of melody and riffs spanning the entirety of the disc is riveting as two forces come together to offer up quality Black Metal which is begging to be consumed. The band’s utilize their brevity to great magnitude and turn this limitation into the one of the album’s resounding strengths as the variety inherent maintains its focus and lethality throughout. It’s also quite refreshing to experience the output of two projects in a somewhat different form than their usual take, for the material found on this split is not exactly in the same vein as their previous work. You know all that shouting Cronos was doing back in 1982 on VENOM’s second full-length? This is what he had in mind when he was shredding his lungs and belting out BLACK METALLL!!!!!!
(Online July 12, 2007)