Sunday, June 26, 2016

Horna - Kun synkkä ikuisuus avautuu (2006)

Originally available as a limited edition cassette, released in 2006, Kun synkkä ikuisuus avautuu somehow slipped under my radar for the past several years. Given the prolific output of this Finnish horde, it is certainly no surprise. Immediately upon hearing this compilation of demo material, recorded in 2000, it became clear that this was yet another essential Horna release. Thankfully, it has since been reissued on CD (and also on vinyl, I believe). 

Kun synkkä ikuisuus avautuu features demo versions of songs that later appeared on Ordo Regnum Sathanas and the ill-fated Sudentaival L.P. While the former is not a bad release, and fits in rather well with the likes of Kohti Yhdeksän Nousua and Perimä Vihassa Ja Verikostossa, Sudentaival was an absolute abomination and the blackest mark on the face of Horna until the recent acquisition of their new Mansonite vocalist. The material on this release represents the pure, raw Black Metal spirit that Horna had kept alive for so long. 

Whereas the album versions of several of these songs were utterly ruined by the completely plastic and modern production, the demo recordings present these songs in their true form. The quality is pretty lo-fi, to say the least, though not quite as rough as the Moonblood rehearsals. This is more along the lines of Emperor's Wrath of the Tyrant, in sound and atmosphere. Actually, it is most similar to Tyranny Returns, by Sargeist, probably even using the same equipment and location. The guitars are thin and possess a fair amount of fuzz, though still the dominant aspect of the tape as the drums are kept to the background. This is a massive improvement, of course, as the Sudentaival album was rendered worthless largely due to the over-produced drums that were so high in the mix as to drown out most of the other instruments. 

The single most important element of Horna's sound, over the years, has been the brilliant songwriting of Shatraug. The grim and necro approach of Kun synkkä ikuisuus avautuu allows the guitar melodies to create a morose atmosphere of impenetrable gloom. Nazgul's vocals do well to match this, as he utilizes more tortured screams in songs like "Sudentaival". As opposed to his more forceful and aggressive delivery on the full-lengths, he took the opportunity to explore other parts of his vocal range on some of the other recordings, such as this one. These morbid cries accentuate the haunting melodies of songs like "Hautajaisyö" and "Vihasta Ja Arvista", almost as if the mournful riffs are draining the life from him. Without the overbearing dominance of the drums, as found on the 'proper' studio versions, the guitars take on a ghostly effect that envelopes the listener within each sombre passage. 

Kun synkkä ikuisuus avautuu is highly recommended for fans of Horna or, indeed, those who are drawn to the more necro and lo-fi Black Metal of the early '90s. These demos allow for Shatraug's riff-craft to be truly appreciated, bereft of those foreign elements that ruined the more well-known versions. There is nothing polished, modern or easy-to-digest here. This is pure Black Metal, as it should be. Perhaps, with the exception of the folkish Isengard influence of "Skaldiriimu", which still fits in with the rest of the material, despite the bit of clean vocals. Seek this out or perish!