HORNA
"Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne"

(Woodcut/The End)

01. Vihan Tie
02. Musta Temppeli
03. Vala Pedolle
04. Kirous ja Malja
05. Saastainen Kaste
06. Kuoleva Lupaus
07. Zythifer
08. Kuilunhenki (Bonus)

RATING: 7.5/10

One of the truly underground bands of the black metal elite, Finland's HORNA do much more than create grim feeling and cold atmosphere (though they do both exceedingly well). On "Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne", the music is unequivocally black metal in the northernmost sense, but HORNA takes care to provide the listener with a generous helping of melody and often infuse the compositions with a vaguely rock and roll beat. Originally released early in the year by Finland's Woodcut Records, the album now sees a U.S. release through The End on August 9th, and kultists on this side of the pond should be thankful for it.

As I alluded to above, HORNA has struck the elusive balance between black-metal malevolence and good songwriting. And by good songwriting, I don't mean clean vocals and symphonic excess, nor am I implying that there is any kind of mass appeal genre-blending going on. I just mean that these guys write some darn catchy riffs and know how to keep the listener's interest. The band's knack for the toe-tapping stuff is most apparent when you first hear the main riff to "Valla Pedolle". HORNA doesn't ride that riff for the song's entirety though. The damn thing is well over eight minutes in length, so you've got ample opportunity to revel in those moments when the group changes pace into horrific plodding and terror creeps. The HORNA kult has a knack for gnarly up-tempo gallops as well (just listen to "Musta Temppeli").

Oh, I almost forgot…those lyrics! I could go on and on about the blasphemous prose here, that is if I could understand a friggin' word of it; it's written in Finnish. I've no doubt it is soul-scarring fare of the highest order though. Hey, it's the music that matters most though, right? The vile screams, the jagged riffs, the moments of DARKTHRONE groove, the rubbed-raw sound… There's a lot to like here for fans of underground/classic black metal.

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