Havukruunu - Havulinnaan 01Let’s be honest; I’m as excited for Abbath as my son is about his new Optimus Prime Halloween costume. Ever since hearing about Abbath’s new venture, my fellow scalpel wielder (Dr. Fisting) and I have yet to cease our musings of grand times spent with Immortal and the one-hit-wonder that is I. It’s bad enough that I‘s Between Two Worlds already gets a shitload of playtime on the Grier IPod, but lately it has been even worse [I worship that damn album.Steel Druhm]. So, what the hell does this have to do with anything? Well, as per usual, the eagle-eyed Madam X came across a promo that she just knew I’d love. Labelled with the “pagan black metal” stamp and coming from Naturmacht Productions (the parent of Enshine‘s Rain Without End Records), I knew for sure I would find something to enjoy on this Finnish duo’s debut. But I didn’t realize just how much I’d enjoy it.

Seconds into Havukruunu‘s Havulinnaan, it becomes quite clear that the raw, folky black metal sound I was expecting the band to lean heavily on was not the only thing present. Instead, I was stunned to find within the mix some uncontrollable gushings and love for all that is Immortal, I, and Viking-era Bathory (I know, it was quite the roundabout but I made the connection). Though it may be unfair to compare Havulinnaan to the mighty achievements of the aforementioned references, or use it as a buffer between All Shall Fall and the upcoming release from Mr. Crab-Walk, Havukruunu‘s debut is just good enough that I don’t feel so bad.

Havulinnaan kicks things off with “Talven mustat tuulet;” a shameless example of a band romping in the hay to the crash and thrash of Between Two Worlds. Without becoming a copycat, the precise songwriting results in a delivery both nostalgic and oh so satisfying. “Talven mustat tuulet” is about as fun as it gets for openers and it does a fine job of setting the tone for the rest of the album. But don’t be fooled, there’s more to this album than the bent-over ravaging of I riffs. While the overtone of the album is the bastardized old-school black metal approach of Bathory and current Darkthrone, the undertone is very much submersed in the sucking void of memorable riffs, powerful Viking choruses, and an expansive pagan air of melody and folk.

Havukruunu - Havulinnaan 02“Rautalintu” is filled to the brim with a pure abundance of catchy folk leads picked and pounded by the band’s guitarist/drummer Stefan. These leads are neither unfounded guitar melodies nor frenetic solo work. Instead, they are the undeniable power permeating through the song and presenting an organic and simplistic ambiance. But “Rautalintu” is only the beginning. “Aavevalo” molds every element from “Rautalintu” and “Talven mustat tuulet” into a standout track full of chugging I riffage and swooning choruses reminiscent of Quorthon’s Viking-era. Though bassist/vocalist Humö predominately employs a black-metal rasp, he unleashes fist-pumping cleans and urgent screams as convincing as the ones coming from the neighborhood sanitarium. “Uni Kuin Unho” crowns these emotions with further epicness, some Vintersorg-like vocals, and a stickability equivalent to holiday hymns. If it wasn’t for the closer, “Uni Kuin Unho” would easily be my favorite track on the album.

“Havulinnaan” shuts the door on this album with an intro straight from the frozen halls of Darkthrone before pinching off a windpipe stinking of I and Bathory. The title track goes all out, delivering the folkiest of choruses, a headbangeable midsection, and some beautifully executed acoustic guitars to pin-up Havulinnaan‘s blackened flesh. Powerful stuff and an originality that would have been lost if not for the raw – yet lively – production. But it is the songwriting that truly deserves thanks. With a focus on a simplistic, bare-bones approach, Havulinnaan doesn’t over-exert or come off pretentious. Havulinnaan displays characteristics both of uniqueness and “same-ole” that doesn’t distract, disappoint, or bore. While this Finnish duo aren’t out to break new ground, they do a damn-good job of convincing you that the road they follow is their own.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Naturmacht Productions
Websites: hammerstunde.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/havukruunu
Releases Worldwide: October 18th, 2015

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  • So Immortaly!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      It feels oh so good.

      • Don’t perv up a happy moment.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          My bad.

    • sir_c

      So black, very forest!

  • Monsterth Goatom

    “I” must take the cake for the most Google-unfriendly band name. Move over Voices.

    The stream for Havulinnaa is at https://naturmachtproductions.bandcamp-dot-com/album/havulinnaan-np061

    However, although the songs are all there, the stream won’t play for some reason.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Well… There’s a Black Metal band from Finland named “O”. Not only that but I went to the Metal Archives to check about them before posting this comment and there are 2 more bands named “O”.

    • Name’s Dalton

      I used to run a record label. One of our bands called themselves The Planet The. Many searches knew what it was like to be roasted in the depths of the Shloar on that day, I can tell you.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Really digging this. For me, it’s one of those records that you fall in love with on the first listen. Great find Dr. and Madam X!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Agreed. The first song hit me and I was glued.

  • You wot m8?

    Generally, I don’t like to squabble over score, but this was certainly not a 3.5 review. I was expecting at least a 4.0 when I was done reading. This is really damn good.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Again, I gush about 0.5 too much. For me, 4.0 is damn near perfect. This had some songs that were great and some that were good. So not quite a 4.0 in score. However, it is a <3 <3 <3 <3 in fun factor.

      • You wot m8?

        My only quibble with what I’ve listened to so far is that it’s not all on YouTube… I WANT IT ALL!

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Oh yeah… That’s frustrating.

        • tomasjacobi

          The whole album is on the label’s bandcamp, available as “Name your Price”.
          You’re welcome!

  • Excentric_1307

    Seems like this is the Year of Black Metal. There’s been only a handful of great Death Metal Releases, but it seems like there’s another awesome BM release or 3 every month.

  • Wilhelm

    It’s like Immortal without Popeye or Moonsorrow without the overabundant synths. Seriously good stuff though.

    • ssorg

      I think you got your Popeyes and your Abbaths confused there

  • Kreegwaldo

    This is amazing!

    The only question I have is – I thought the new album was released on the 18th? I don’t see it on their bandcamp page, only singular ( older ) tracks and the previous album.

    How do I buy this?!?

  • sir_c

    I enjoyed the embedded track very much, voi vittu! :-)
    This one is on my list.

  • Dobbie03

    Great album

  • ALSO BANNED: Howard Dean

    The Finnish scene is hands down the best black metal scene in the world right now. I’ll take Sielunvihollinen, Havukruunu, Uskonrauha, Ride for Revenge, etc over what most of the other scenes are putting out. Iceland is a close second. France and Poland, two perennial favorites, have slipped in recent years. Germany, another powerhouse, is lagging a bit and desperately needs a new Katharsis album to put it back in the forefront!

  • Nick Maestas

    Damn really loving this CD. Glad you reviewed them or else I never would have heard them!

  • Eli Valcik

    This is easily a 4.0/5.0 for me

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      New one soon…

      • Eli Valcik

        Already bought it :)

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          It’s good shit.