The sheer number of releases these denizens of the Finnish deeps churn out on a regular basis is quite overwhelming. It seems that not six months go by without Shatraug and co. releasing something under the HORNA banner, be it full-length CD, EP, split, vinyl or just about everything in between. With such a large body of work under their bullet belts one could reasonably presume that large parts of said releases would be little more than filler material, which, surprisingly, does not seem to be the case since their work has retained a solid consistency throughout the years.
“Musta Kaipuu” is their latest effort, and according to their label it features “ten legendary, long-lost tracks from the ‘Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne’ recording sessions”. Nothing more than a fancy way of saying this is basically a collection of B-sides, if you ask me, but hey – I’m a fan, so the more HORNA I get mainlined to my brain the better! The recording sessions from which these tracks were culled was a period of slight “reinvention” for the band, as the “Envaatnags...” album saw the band subtly toeing the line between the more straightforward rawness of earlier material like “Hiidentorni” and the more expansive epic nature of, say, “Ääniä Yössä”. The ten tracks presented here thus present a glimpse of both past and present, though it must be said that because these tracks are ostensibly B-sides not many of them are actually very good. It will suffice if you like mostly raw and straightforward Black Metal but in terms of the band’s canon of work very little of “Musta Kaipuu” ranks as “legendary...”. Damn those overzealous press release writers...
“Unohdetut Kasvot, Unohdettu Sni” is easily the best thing on offer here, driven forward by a surprisingly catchy main riff that is closer to classic Heavy metal than anything else, while “Oi Kallis Kotimaa” is just aboiut the strangest HORNA track I’ve ever heard – it sees the band scuttle their trademark raw grind ‘n grime for a folk-y gang-chorus powered sing-along ditty that sounds dangerously similar to FINNTROLL. These interesting moments aside, the album really doesn’t have enough standout moments. Songs like “Haudanvarjo” and “Menneiden Kaiku” kick off strong before eventually petering out amidst waves of rather unimaginative riffing and simple 4/4 drumming. This is unfortunately the case with most of what’s on offer here and it would take a huge amount of both goodwill and naivety to view “Musta Kaipuu” as anything other than a largely unnecessary collection of B-sides. 90% of the songs on here obviously weren’t good enough to make it onto “Envaatnags...” and they certainly aren’t going to cut the mustard when presented on their own, as is the case here. I still love HORNA (probably always will) but releases like this are pretty much a waste of both time and money.
(Online July 28, 2009)