review by: Pal Meentzen
If you like Scandinavian black metal, it’s very hard to ignore what some consider to be the AC/DC of the genre: Horna. Yes, for some reason people like to compare metal bands with those Aussie hardrock heroes, just like Six Feet Under have been referred to as the AC/DC of death metal (might have something to do with the eighteen AC/DC cover albums Six Feet Under have made — ed.).
Some will probably say that Xasthur is the AC/DC of suicidal black metal, but well, let’s skip the silly comparisons for now. After all, comparing singer Corvus to Brian Johnson is like the difference between being strangled by ones own vocal chords and sounding like a defective kitchen appliance.
Problem is that when it comes to the music of Horna, there is always an near-irrestisible temptation to seek comparisons. Not so much with other bands, but in terms of metaphors.
Although Horna released albums in 2006 (Ääniä Yössä — an unnescessary excercise in repetition) and a following inbetweenie called Sotahuuto (a vaguely interesting tribute to Bathory), there was nothing truly captivating ever since 2005's seminal and catchy-titled Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne... until Sanojesi Äärelle, that is, which really seems to pick up where things left off in 2005.
Sanojesi Äärelle (translated as "the source of my word") consists of two discs. One representing Satanic darkness and the other the Luciferian light. Disc one counts 10 songs, of which two are re-recordings of older songs. They are based on old single tracks "Risti Ja Ruoska" and "Orjaroihu" from the period 2002 - 2003. Whether they are improvements is entirely up to the listener, but it seems like another small retrospective on their 15 year-career. This warrants respect at least.
Disc one is the punchy and hook-orientated one, and for many long-time fans all that is desired from their coldblessed metalmeisters. The second disc consists of four long and drawn out pieces that are meant to be epic and trance-inducing. Fortunately, none are as mind-numbing as the title track of Ääniä Yössä from three years back, so it seems they have retrieved a balance between creating a mood without losing themselves in the process.
This is the first proper Horna album in quite a long time that sucessfully manages to perform some true necrotic sorcery towards the temporarily disenchanted. Neophytes can also learn something from this lesson in proper grim black metal, as much as can yesteryear’s "church burning heroes," who still adorn many a shirt today, but who sadly thrive on the credits gained from a very distant past.
This Finnish horde hasn’t grown soft one bit! Essential cold-blessed grimness for dark days. (8/10)