Monday, October 17, 2011

Horna - Sotahuuto (2007)

Sotahuuto is not an ordinary album. The title is Finnish for "War Cry", and that is fairly appropriate given the nature of this L.P. As the liner notes state, the material was written in the spring of 2004, in tribute of Bathory. This was oddly timed, as Quorthon would pass from this realm a short time later. In general, gimmick albums should be avoided, but it is more acceptable considering Horna's prolific nature.

The quality of the material is decent enough. Of course, there are a good number of stolen Bathory riffs mixed in, as well as others that are greatly inspired by Quorthon's older works. It can get repetitive at times, since some of the ideas sound too similar. Both "Lähtölaukaus" and "Tuhontuoja" start out with riffs that are reminiscent of "Born for Burning", from The Return... Though the album features a lot of old school Black Metal riffs that hearken back to the 80s, Horna's distinctive style still bleeds through and even the melodies that come off as extremely plagiarized are only pieces of a larger framework. "Sodanjano", in particular, actually seems to break away from the tribute altogether, yet still fits in with the rest. Along with the different style of songwriting that dominates Sotahuuto, the length of the individual tracks is much shorter than the last few Horna albums, as a result.

As for the production, this album is even more raw and abrasive than its predecessors. Thankfully, the band recruited a real drummer this time around, so it all sounds much more natural than on Ääniä Yössä. The guitars are very thin and trebly, though are somewhat surpassed in the mix by the vocals. One major complaint with the band is the vocal style that Corvus utilizes, since he almost always sounds strained and as if he is pushing the limits, meaning that there is less variation and less opportunity to accentuate the atmosphere of the music. His voice gives the whole album a feeling of harshness that can be irritating, at times, especially being so prominent in the mix. While this may be what Shatraug had in mind, Horna would probably benefit from getting a new vocalist of for their current one to learn his craft a bit more.

Sotahuuto is a solid album of primitive, raw, ugly Black Metal with a lot of old school feeling. While it is a tribute to Bathory, it does not sound like a total clone of Quorthon's old sound (other than a handful of stolen riffs that are worked in), but definitely in the same vein. There is still enough of Horna's original sound present for this to be easily identified. Not essential, but a good dose of hellish music.