Friday, October 21, 2011

Horna - Musta Kaipuu (2009)

Released in July 2009, Musta Kaipuu is Horna's eighth full-length album, though not officially recognized as such. The material presented here was recorded during the epic Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne sessions, back in 2004. For whatever reason, these songs were not chosen for that album and were left on the shelf. A few years later, Shatraug was looking to clear out a lot of unused songs, which resulted in a double L.P. in 2008 and then this collection of tracks being released the following year.

"Piina" is first up, and features several memorable riffs. It is mostly mid-paced and the guitar melodies work well to create a sombre atmosphere. The sound is identical to that of Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne, with an emphasis on the raw guitar tone and the extremely hoarse vocals of Corvus. While being fairly solid, this was not the best song to use to open up the album, as it seems more suited for the middle of the record.

The aura darkens from the initial moments of "Haudanvarjo", which is a longer track that features more variation in the tempo. It alternates between slower ad faster sections, not impressing too much, but remaining decent enough. There is a great tremolo riff near the middle that is very memorable, which returns near the end. Overall, it is clear why this song was left off the 2005 release.

"Aldebaranin Susi" is a bit more upbeat, with a somewhat more energetic pace for the first couple of minutes. Following this, the atmosphere becomes increasingly morose as things slow down and the vocals convey a tormented feeling. This one is a bit shorter, only around five minutes, and could have benefited from a little more development. It is a good song, more enjoyable than the previous two, but it had the potential to be even better.

The arrangement of the songs is quite strange, as they did not bother to start with the strongest material. Instead, the tracks seem to display a higher level of quality the deeper you get. "Unohdetut Kasvot, Unohdettu Ääni" is an example of this, showing a lot more thought in songwriting and arrangement. It is somewhat melodic, compared to the more primitive songs on here, but still very grim and melancholic. The tempo is dynamic, but the atmosphere remains consistent. The guitar melodies conjure up a sense of loss and regret, with subtle hints of a more optimistic aura; much like one that mourns the passing of something meaningful, briefly remembering pleasant things before the realization hits that it is forever gone. There is no turning back.

"Vuohenlahko" is a rather primitive and straightforward track, though still bearing a dark and sorrowful quality. It is one of the shorter songs on here and the mournful tremolo riff that appears in the latter half could have been expanded upon. Instead of a supporting role, it should have been featured more prominently as it is the strongest and most effective riff of the whole song.

Another shorter track follows this. "Oi Kallis Kotimaa" begins with a woeful guitar riff and it looks to be one of the more memorable ones of the album, initially. The clean guitar adds to the miserable atmosphere as well, but the vocal approach ruins it. This sounds like something that one would expect from Isengard or some other Viking Metal project. It certainly does not suit this song, or Horna at all. Even if I was in the mood for that type of music, this would not be my cup of tea. This song should have been scrapped.

"Pohjanportti" is another mid-paced song that seems kind of bland, until the middle. At that point, the pace gets even slower and some open chords are utilized to give the track a more dismal feeling. Unfortunately, this part is too brief and only appears again at the very end. Once again, this is a song that is decent but completely pales in comparison to the material on Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne.

The next song is "Sieluhaaska", which comes off as another average track that is pretty good but not great. Though the sound is raw and unpolished, one can hear what sounds like an almost folk-like melody with a more up-tempo feeling.

"Marraskuussa" is the highlight of the album, starting out with a haunting tremolo riff and soon transitioning to one that is even more miserable and desolate. Waves of misery and pain wash over you, dragging you to the abysmal depths and drowning you in utter grief and despair. You get the sense of no longer being able to breathe, as the mournful guitar riffs carve your flesh and the blood escapes your veins. The tortured vocals and the slower sections serve to create a morbid feeling, while you struggle to resist the horrible realization that it is all over. The hell that you are experiencing is eternal. Whatever good times you once enjoyed are forever gone and shall rapidly fade from your memory like a dream. In time, you will begin to question whether or not they ever existed, as the idea of anything pleasant will seem like some sort of product of your imagination. As the song draws to a conclusion, the woeful guitar melody confirms that nothing awaits you but suffering, and nothing else has ever existed.

The final track on here is "Menneiden Kaiku", which continues the gloomy journey into the depths of agony. You feel as if you are being pulled down or simply too weak to move. Your will is broken by this point and your spirit is weary. It is only a matter of time now. The grave is calling for you and nothing that you do will avoid this fate. Your feeble body shall fail you, and this world of misery will loosen its grip as you pass on to the realm of eternal pain and everlasting torment.

Musta Kaipuu is an interesting collection of songs. It possesses the consistency of a normal full-length album, as the material was written and recorded at the same time. On its own, it would be a decent record and only has one bad track. However, when compared to Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne, it becomes quite evident that only "Marraskuussa" is on the same level and is worth the price of the CD, alone. That being said, Musta Kaipuu works well as a companion to the aforementioned album and is certainly a safe buy for any Horna fan.