Horna Hengen Tulet 01I would like to take a second to convey some rather important information before I begin my review of Horna‘s Hengen Tulet: I’m a Horna fanboy if there ever was one. Though I may be biased in my uncontrollable fanboyism, I promise you an honest critique without gush, sap, cuddles, or clickbait.

Since their inception with Nazgul von Armageddon on vocals (preceding his departure to focus on Satanic Warmaster) to the two-man days of Corvus (vocals) and Shatraug (everything else), there isn’t an album in Horna‘s discography that I don’t enjoy. Be it the simple foundations of Kohti yhdeksän nousua, the near-perfection of Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne, the four-song hauntings of Ääniä yössä, the Bathory-worship of Sotahuuto, or the diverse Sanojesi äärelle double-album, each release gets its proper rotation in the Grier household. The diversity, songwriting, and consistency of Horna even make their plits and EPs worth the purchase (Pimeyden hehku is a must). But will this new era (which includes new-ish singer Spellgoth on vocals and a full lineup) see the band expand its reign or will they fall victim to the “Black Metal Rut of Death?” 

Horna Hengen Tulet 03Honestly, I was a little worried with 2013’s Askel lähempänä Saatanaa. That album was a real letdown for me. By no means is it “bad,” but it tended to focus on mid-paced material and lacked the memorability and melodic atmosphere so common to their sound. Also, the vocals don’t much work for me, but this is mainly due to the fact that Spellgoth’s vocals are quite different than what fans of Corvus are use to. Though his diversity between sharp Watain rasps, Niklas Kvarforth-like screams, and death-like grunts make for an interesting new take on Horna‘s sound, Corvus’ emotion and passion seemed to fit the music better. However, with a slight shift in the songwriting on Hengen Tulet, the vocals meld much better on this release (though, it will still take me time to get use to them). This is made clear on opener “Amadriada.” Spellgoth’s vocals match the Watain-esque foundations quite well. Unfortunately, the track isn’t particularly amazing, but it is much more in-your-face compared to the opener of Askel lähempänä Saatanaa.

It isn’t until “Nekromantia” that I finally get that overwhelming sense of “yep, this is Horna.” “Nekromantia” drops some crushing chugs that involuntarily cause your neck to snap and that sultry beast on your doorstep seduces you into allowing it permission to enter. Spellgoth adds his venom to the mix and does a damn good job staking his claim in the land of Horna. Follow-up, “Tämä maailma odottaa,” keeps the smoke billowing with a slick drum intro and riffs that deliver the kind of beltings that leave swelling welts on your ass [We talked about this. Report to HR.Steel Administrator]. Toss in another sinister vocal performance and some bass-pummeling leads, and you’ve got a one-two punch that should please even the mildest of fanboys.

Horna Hengen Tulet 02

However, the real highlights of the album incorporate that true Horna riffage and emotion made famous on albums like Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne, Ääniä yössä, and Sanojesi äärelle. Not only do songs like “Puhdas” and “Ikuisuuden Kynnyksellä” deliver well-written Shatraug structures, the vocals also glow like shiny black stars in a sky of white. What I’ve always loved about the band comes through perfectly on these two tracks: passionate screams and croons, pummeling riffs that emit neck-breaking heaviness and depressive atmospheres, gritty bass, and perfectly rhythmic kit work. The former is simply crushing and has that signature “groove” that Shatraug has pinned to most his work in Horna. The latter has an unsettling atmosphere that borrows from the alternating ascending/descending tremolos of classic Dissection while maintaining the fervor – if you will – of the Horna of old. Hands-down, my favorite track of the album.

Interspersed between these “good” and “great” tracks sits standard outings that teeter between “decent” and “run-of-the-mill.” Though there are a couple of good tracks on the first-half, the back-end of Hengen Tulet (with “Puhdas,” “Ikuisuuden Kynnyksellä,” the heartbreaking “Hurmos,” and the interesting Vreid-inspired “Sodan Roihu”) flows a bit better than the front-end. The production actually has a “cleaner” sheen to it than Corvus-era releases; however, this allows Spellgoth’s reverberating rawness to standout a bit too much in the mix. This album doesn’t quite capture the glory of previous releases but the new lineup is showing signs of improvement and meshing. Regardless, the Grier kids are loving it, so who am I to take that away from them?

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: World Terror Committee
Websites: horna666.com/Abyss/ | facebook.com/horna
Releases Worldwide: September 22nd, 2015

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  • Monsterth Goatom

    Yet another apparently great band I’ve never heard of. I’ll check out their back catalogue before making my way to this one.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Do it!!!!

      • Monsterth Goatom

        I will, and be sure to put some Polysporin on those welts.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          I can write myself a prescription for something stronger. Except it always makes me high as a kite.

    • You wot m8?

      Seems to happen just about every time that I click my way onto this site. It’s a bit uncanny.

  • Dr. Scorpion

    Love the embedded track. It’s the antithesis to prozac.

  • karmaggedon

    Spellgoth was what the doctor ordered for Horna. He brings the much needed vocal aggression and pushes the band into a territory they have been shying away for way too long!! Hail Finnish Black Metal!!

  • Karmazov

    I have to listen to this for the amazing album art alone. I’m a sucker for great album art.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Come for the album art, stay for the riffs.

  • Worldeater

    Just when you think you can go for a laid-back cruise in your
    metaphorical Messerschmitt (or Spitfire if that rocks your plane) another AMG review of a band you never knew existed comes out of nowhere and hits you like a sneak attack out of the sun. Next stop Horna-Bandcamp airport!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I still remember when I first discovered this band. Definitely in my top five of all time black metal bands.

      • Pimpolho

        Do you mind doing a little list? For research purposes! :D

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          List of top five BM bands? Or Horna albums?

          • Pimpolho

            The top 5 BM bands. :D

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Hmmmm… Well, based on how often I return to these bands and ALL of their albums, the consistency they have had over the years, and the personal attachments I have for them, I’d have to pick (in no particular order): Darkthrone (from debut until now), Horna, Cobalt, Tsjuder, Satanic Warmaster, and my “is he’s” would have to be Vreid and Gorgoroth (minus Twilight of the Idols). I could probably think of others and make a complete list of additions and substitutions from this list, but these are my picks off the cuff. And honestly, I love these bands.

          • Pimpolho

            I CAN’T BELIEVE i don’t know half of these bands. Fixing this right now. If any of these bands is not that good, you’re click baiting me. You have been warned.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Talk about putting pressure on me!

  • BranMakMorn

    Horna kick some serious ass. I’m mostly acquainted with the epic Envaatnags, and Ääniä, but it looks like it’s time to catch up!

    Gotta say, some 4-5 years ago I went to a gig with Horna opening for Taake: possibly the best BM concert I’ve seen, they are both some of the best 2nd wave black metal around, going strong still today.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Agreed. Wasn’t completely taken by the last Taake album but overall them and Horna are fucking awesome.

      Also, I’m jealous you saw them both…

  • Alexandre Barata

    Not in my favorite handful of BM bands, but a very interesting and solid one! Gotta listen to the new album ASAP!

  • Wilhelm

    I never got the big deal with Horna…I’ve given them a few chances but nothing ever really popped out as unique or exciting. The embedded track is meh.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      It is that “other” style of black metal so I get it. Many of my black metal friends don’t share my undying love for them.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    I dig it. I dig it real nice, ‘specially Tämä Maailma Odottaa.
    I was expecting a higher score based on yoyr review.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Yeah, that’s a cool track.

      When comparing this to the other albums of theirs, 3.0 is where I stand with it. Not quite a 3.5. Still, I can’t help but have a little passion in my words for this great band, even if the score isn’t higher. For sure it is a “good” album.

  • You wot m8?

    Finland seems to be on a hot streak recently in terms of metal output. It’s gotten to the point where, if I see “Finnish Metal” at the top of the page, I just assume I’m going to like it.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      If by “recently” you mean roughly the last 20 years, I agree 100%

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Yes yes yes but what about the new horrendous album?

  • JL

    Are all the songs on the album as slow paced, boring and bland as the one embedded here? :-)

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Boring??!!! And no they aren’t. Most of them are on the faster side.

  • Kevin James King

    Fellow Horna fanboy here. Looking forward to this one. Love all their albums too. They’re one of the few bm bands who capture the filthy, grim attitude of old Darkthrone.

  • Arikael

    I don’t like the connections to the NSBM-Scene and NS ideas.

    • Worldeater

      I just read some articles on the matter and yes it’s kind of a dealbreaker for me!

  • AndySynn

    While I’m not AS much of a Horna fanboy as the good Dr (they’d probably crack my top 20 though) I do agree that they’ve never put out anything I haven’t enjoyed.

    And I actually REALLY liked Askel lähempänä Saatanaa, so need to give this a listen asap (it’s been sat on my ipod for months… to my shame…).

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Dammit! Listen! Now!