I don’t say this enough: I fucking love metal. I love the culture, I love the music, and I love the variation from one sub-genre or sub-sub-genre to another. I love the passion from the bands, I love the passion from the fans. I love that people can stay true to a band even after four decades of discovering (and rediscovering) themselves. And I love that there’s always that one guy that supports their favorite local group, even though the rest of the world thinks they suck. I love that we can bicker and fight about a band or record and can still be friends. Friends that share a passion for a message, a form of music, and a lifestyle that many can’t understand. I love that the reasons for a band being my favorite can also be the same reasons others hate them. And I love that certain bands just have something that I “get,” even if others around me don’t get it. So, for the same reasons I “get” Bathory and Immortal, I also “get” Havukruunu. Many have argued that Havukruunu are a copycat outfit, preying on a style created decades ago. But debut album Havulinnaan was more than that. And now, Kelle surut soi is even more than Havulinnaan.

But, because I’m a little biased toward this flavor of black metal, let’s set a few things straight. Are Havukruunu the greatest black metal band on the planet? No. Are they practitioners of the Mayhem/Darkthrone ways of black metal? No. Do they care if you can’t interpret their Finnish album titles, song titles, or lyrics? Not a chance. Are they out to recruit all the genre haters with their brand of folky black metal? I doubt its even crossed their mind. What they do has been around for decades. With a style synthesized by old Quorthon and made heavy as fuck by Abbath, et al., there’s no need for reinvention. All that’s needed are adjustments to the subtleties and a band willing to borrow just as much from their forefathers as forge their own path. And that’s exactly what Havukruunu is all about.

Case in point: opener “Jo näkyvi pohjan portit.” This track is as close to anything you can find on Bathory‘s Blood Fire Death. It has everything from acoustic guitars, building atmospheres, reverberating Viking vox, and that crushing bass/drum/guitar work that only Quorthon and Abbath (and Rimfrost) are capable of achieving. But the thing to note about the opener is its holistic atmosphere and its desire for melody. Though it sounds like a continuation to Havulinnaan, it’s the thick layers of emotion that actually set it apart from its predecessor. From opener to closer, Kelle surut soi is on a well-defined mission to engulf you in the mist that surrounds it. Speaking of the closer, it trumps the opener in every way. The title track has unbelievable atmosphere and all that black/folk/Viking emotion, that has been building up the entire album, finally explodes. The result of said explosion is massive riffs and stunning guitar leads that settle deep inside you. It has just the right amount of addictiveness and an all-encompassing attitude that makes it impossible for me to ignore as I listen to it for the hundredth time.

“Verikuu” is similar in approach to the closer, using a heavy dose of Viking melody and voices to build a bridge between Havukruunu and I/Immortal. And another bridge between “Myrskynkutsuja” and “Kelle surut soi.” But, where “Verikuu” uses melodic builds to support its crushing riffs and Viking power, “Myrskynkutsuja,” instead, uses its crushing riffs to support its melodic character. “Myrskynkutsuja” is the closest representative of the dominant sound found on Havulinnaan. It’s got those aggressive, yet fun, qualities of I and Immortal, while maintaining an originality that makes it an effective piece on the record. And that’s Havukruunu in a nutshell: a band that can borrow from its influences while injecting their own uniqueness. A uniqueness made real via the soaring solos of “Vainovalkeat,” the throat-ripping attack of “Vainajain valot,” and the untoppable atmospheres toward the back-half of “Kelle surut soi.”

Kelle surut soi is every bit as much as the debut, except it’s more. The mix and dynamics are on par with Havulinnaan and there’re even inklings of Borknagar/Vintersorg and Dissection interspersed between the thick layers of Bathory, Immortal, and I. Yet, what you hear is the emotion and heaviness of Havukruunu. Though the vocals may be the weakest part of the record, they work better here than on the debut. Being the huge fan I was of their debut, I really didn’t think it could get better. But I was wrong to doubt this Finnish duo. And I’m not afraid to admit that I was wrong.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Naturmacht Productions
Websites: naturmachtproductions.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/Havukruunu
Releases Worldwide: April 29th, 2017

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  • Monsterth Goatom

    Whoa, hell, I had no idea this was coming. Havulinnaan is one of my favourite albums. You made my day!

    • You wot m8?

      Havulinnaan is one of the best albums that no one’s ever heard of.

      • Lucas Lex DeJong

        Made my top 10 that year, to me it was the perfect balance of viking, folk and melodic black metal, without fully sitting in any one of those styles.

        • ArtifeX

          Seems to me that I need to check Havulinnaan immediately. It’s a shame that I discovered this band only yesterday, but better later than ever. If you compared the two albums what would be the best?

          • Lucas Lex DeJong

            For me, definitely Havulinnaan, since that was a 5/5 for my personal tastes. That said, I’ve only listened to Kelle once through, and I agree with the score of a 4/5. Havulinnaan just sounded a bit colder in the production and the acoustic and folk elements were buried with a bit more subtlety, so it sounded less like Bathory worship.

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    Fuck kyllä vauva Suomalainen Musta metalli

  • Marc Rikmenspoel

    I’m so psyched for this! My Bandcamp pre-order should be available tomorrow. These guys just do it right for me. But two things to note, regarding this overwhelmingly positive review. One, the band is now a trio, as they brought on a drummer (guitarist Steffan had also been drumming), and two, in a sense this is their third album, since 2014 6- song EP Rautta ja Tulta was re-released in 2016 with 4 new songs. They also have two demos (4 songs each) and two individually-released songs, which together are essentially another album. So in a way, Kelle surut soi is their fourth album, and in that light, it’s no surprise they have really found their way with it!

    • ssorg

      The bandcamp link, since the one above doesn’t send to the right place https://naturmachtproductions.bandcamp.com/album/kelle-surut-soi

      • Marc Rikmenspoel

        Good call, the review link is for the band’s own site, which has the two demos, the two individual songs, and the original Rautaa ja Tulta (6 songs). Naturmacht’s Bandcamp has the 10-song Rautaa ja Tulta, Havulinnaan, and this new Kelle surut soi.

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        Looks like they put this up after I wrote the review. I fixed the link. Thanks!

  • Hammersmith
    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Poetry.

    • ElectricEye

      Damn, how did you know toking up on a unicorn is on my bucket list?

    • Eli Valcik

      Perfect

    • Grymm

      Whoa.

      *BOWS*

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I’ve just realized there are no black unicorns. And it only took me 40 years!

    • The Unicorn

      Wow. Incredible man, I am awed!

  • Dr. Wvrm

    These guys are fantastic, big ups Grier.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Yeah, kickass band.

      • Eli Valcik

        Thanks for the review man.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          No problem.

  • Ferrous Beuller

    Holy shit – this is awesome.

  • Sean Sky

    I’m always a little confused when a review is done with 128 kbps mp3. A higher quality isn’t available?

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      No. That’s what we get. Welcome to the world of music reviewing.

      • Sean Sky

        =(

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Come on! You’re a reviewer, don’t they send you a physical copy in every format available delivered by two busty blondes?

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Oh wait, you’re right. That’s what it is to be a reviewer.

  • Dethjesta

    Been keenly looking forward to this for a while. Can’t wait until tomorrow.

    Got my copy of Ayreon – The Source this morning and I’ve been left a little luke-warm on it from my first listen. I may still grow on me though. Really glad this stacks up, should cheer me up tomorrow.

  • Frost15

    This sounds like the best blend of Immortal and Moonsorrow I’ve ever listened to.

  • Grymm

    Holy shit, this is so good. Heavy as fuck, and the closest to Bathory that anyone not named Quorthon has ever come.

    Great review, Doc!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Thank you, sir. That opening track is soooo Bathory.

  • pfk505

    I fucking love metal too, mostly because of bands like Havukruunu. Tailor-made for me, this stuff.

    • ArtifeX

      Tailor-made, exactly what I thought. Great stuff. I needed this in my life.

  • Jrod1983

    Man the embedded track just kicked my ass all over the damn place! Never heard these guys before, but I think I’ll be changing that asap.
    Also, I love being a metal head too, and the first paragraph of this review basically summed up how I feel about it.
    Thanks for the great words and keep it up!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Glad you enjoyed it and thank you.

    • ssorg

      Embedded track is awesome, but even better in the context of the album. It’s exactly where you a flaming thunderbastard of a song to kick shit into overdrive.

  • Sophocles

    Vikinglorious!!!

  • Aesir

    I love the vocals especially the cleans.

  • Ta2dlam

    I don’t usually go for this kind of thing but holy hell this sounds fucking great!

  • Thatguy

    After the debacle of the AotM, a return to reality.

    • You wot m8?

      Implying that something was better than Dodecahedron?

      • Thatguy

        See my comments in the AotM thread. Winter by Fen was my AotM, with the Dodecahedron as runner-up. The Pallbearer is dreary and the Wormwood trite.

        • Bearded_Relic

          After sifting through the reviews I missed earlier in the week – not to mention barely making it through listens to Astral Doors and Ghost Bath – this pleases my ears greatly.

          • Thatguy

            You are a brave and patient man. Neither the Astral Doors nor the Ghost Bath were worth listening to more than (part of) the embedded tracks.

            This is good though, which is what I meant by my -perhaps not entirely clear – comment.

          • Bearded_Relic

            Well I do have fairly eclectic taste – although I tend to lean toward the ‘heavier’ and ‘darker’ side of the metal spectrum – and sometimes its worth polishing something until you find the shine. Then again… And no, your comment was clear. I figured you were enjoying it, hence my post.

        • You wot m8?

          I’ll have to take another look at that Fen album.

  • TheCurlyMetalhead

    Glorious stuff! Thanks again guys for showing awesome bands (and the less awesome too xD), getting this asap! And I agree, metal is the best and nothing beats it :D Nice review!

  • Levly

    I’m with you man, this band pushes all the right buttons and they’re expert practitioner of this oh-so-good style of Epic Pagan Black Metal.
    I discovered them thanks, to your review of their debut, and I can’t wait to hear that one. Hail!

  • ashcindersmoke

    You mention Bathory in a review and I’m gonna love the shit out of whatever album it is

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I try not to toss that name around much because, well, no one sounds like Bathory. But, Havukruunu pulls off a damn good Bathory.

      • ashcindersmoke

        Fantastic review Dr. Hit the nail on the head with this one

      • ssorg

        The faintest dash of Windir, to my ears, as well.

  • I’m loving this but I can’t put my finger on why… There are a bunch of bands that sound like this but are nowhere near as good. And I like that it’s almost under-produced (or produced so well it SEEMS under-produced). :-)

    • ArtifeX

      Agree, the productions fit perfectly. Love the guitar sound.

  • AgonMcDuck

    I’m really digging this. Always love myself some good riffy melodic black metal, so this is right up my alley. The clean singing actually makes it even better for me.

    This isn’t unseating Holokauston or anything as my RotM for April (though the physical release for that is June), but it’s really, really good.

  • Aguy

    Why does the production sound so muffled? Goddammit. IT’S 2017, PEOPLE. I CAN EDIT MULTITRACK AUDIO ON MY FUCKING TOASTER NOW.

    • ArtifeX

      Because it fits the music well. Listen to the 320kbps quality, sounds a little better than the embedded track.

      Smoke a toke, drink a cold beer and chill. Cheers.

  • ArtifeX

    After tons of albums been reviewed that I can’t get into, finally I found something that get me excited as a little boy. Can’t seem to like the way it should the dissonant and hipster scenes of nowadays, but this, THIS is special.Everything is ad hoc, even the production. Honestly, I don’t see why you mentioned the vocals as being the weakest point. The growls are better than those of Moonsorrow and perhaps Immortal. The cleans are not stellar but they’re well done.

    Probably the best Viking/Pagan Black Metal in recent years.

    Congralutations Doc, another fine and spot on review. Consider me sold. I must check the debut asap.

  • Martin L

    For those like me who may have been slightly underwhelmed by the debut, give “Kelle surut soi” a try. Not that Havulinnaan was bad but this is a much better album, IMO. This makes Havukruunu one of the few bands right now that really excels at delivering both incisive, thrashy riffs AND epic atmosphere, rather than one or the other.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I agree. This tops the debut and more.

  • David D.

    I noticed a huge overlap in this sound with Verisakeet era Moonsorrow. I fucking love this album.

  • Dudeguy Jones

    Tops of the year. Stands with only a very few.

  • AnnieK13

    Really liked the embedded track.

  • AMG should have “nice review” buttons. I wanna click it now. The amazing album got a suitable review!

  • sjforr

    I’m late to this as usual, but this is a great review. Completely agree with the first paragraph.

    BTW, I “get” Bathory too. Listening to this album now – the band was new to me (thanks for the heads up). Am loving what I’m hearing so far.

    Ps. How good is the album art???

  • Lee

    Thanks for the review. AMG has given me Moonsorrow, Paysage D’hiver, Northen, Nechochwen and now Havukruunu (and so many more). Thank you all!!

  • Norpal Nordickson

    This album is so ridiculously fucking good it hurts my teeth.

  • sir_c

    I don’t know what it is; the band does not really play innovative stuff, nor is it brilliantly produced, but still I am totally hooked. Well done guys and thanks AMG for this review.

    • Nag Dammit

      It’s like the new God’s Forsaken. Take something already awesome and righteous, then improve upon it and you won’t go far wrong. Loving this.

  • Chris Sprague

    Good stuff.

  • Nag Dammit

    Oh yes. This puts the righteousness back into black metal (if it was ever gone in the first place).