Havukruunu – Uinuos syömein sota Review

Though it doesn’t seem like Havukruunu ever shoots to the top of enough lists, no one can deny their unfuckwithable presence. Always this side of the Bathory/Immortal sound,1 these Finnish retro-metallers are the living reincarnation of Quorthon. I’ve been the greatest cheerleader of Bathory/Immortal purveyors for years. Like Rimfrost and Havukruunu, to name but a few. Similar in approach, different in delivery, these two bands have satisfied my thirst for aggressive, galloping, pummeling, crab-walking, Viking-esque black metal. Both have seen their share of black metallery, yet one has passed on and one remains. This leaves a lot of pressure on the survivor. But, since 2015’s Havulinnaan, Havukruunu has proven its Bathor-ian mettle. Though 2017’s follow-up Kelle surut soi is the only contender in the catalog, that album is a beast. Yet, the stakes still remain high. Will this year’s Uinuos syömein sota live up to its full potential? Will it fall victim forever to a style conceived and put to rest by Thomas Börje Forsberg? Will this new opus ever be what fans expec… wait, wait, wait. Do you really expect this to fail?? Bahahahaha… idiots.

Three albums in five years and every goddamn one of them is solid. Hell, more than solid. Twenty-seventeen saw Havukruunu’s Kelle surut soi take its rightful place in Grier‘s top ten. Which, as we all know, means a lot. Although the band is still entrenched in that mighty Bathory sound, each album sees more and more of Humö and Stefan coming out on their own. And that trait won’t end with Kelle surut soi. Upping their game in almost every category (leads, solos, clean vox, and massive Viking choirs), Havukruunu is here to prove their relevance and that having a killer sophomore release doesn’t mean it can’t be topped.

Along with the title-track, “Kunnes varjot saa,” “Kuin öinen meri,” and “Vähiin päivät käy” share love for humungous Viking choirs and Batho-atmo. Of the lot, the Hammerheart-esque opener, “Uinuos syömein sota,” has the simplest approach. It grabs your attention and heartstrings, sucking you deep into the album. Though, the vacuum is made stronger by the “floating” follow-up “Kunnes varjot saa.” And by “floating,” I mean that’s the only way to describe the sensation experienced by the smooth leads and building atmospheres that reverberate through the song’s mix of heavy and melodic. But, as the album progresses, these epic moments become greater. As waves crash against beautiful choirs and acoustic guitars, you’d think this was “A Fine Day to Die.” “Kuin öinen meri” is one of the more balanced pieces on the record, capturing the power of the first half and projecting it onto the second. That projection shoots “Vähiin päivät käy” to Valhalla and beyond, seating it on a throne of stainless steel. The kind of throne that makes it one of the album’s (and the band’s) most epic. Not only are you led in by the minute-plus acoustic beauty that is “Jumalten hämär,” but you’re victim to plenty o’ soaring choirs, climbing leads, and dueling guitar solos. As the pace quickens (thanks to a headbanging transition), the guitars weave in and out of booming choirs and thundering atmospheres. Each chaotic lick building to the breathtaking and awe-inspiring conclusion.

But no Havukruunu release is complete without ripping Immortal-like riffage. These headbangable riffs are staples to the Havukruunu sound and, fuck, do they do wonders to the album. “Kunnes varjot saa” is one that, after experiencing its floating folk/black metal reverberations, unleashes a beast of a lick that causes cervical fractures. While other tracks have similar bone and cartilage weakening effects (“Pohjolan tytär,” in particular), “Ja viimein on yö” is a go-get-‘er piece that includes Immortal bludgeonings and a bounty of impressive leads, solos, and acoustic work. That said, the black sheep of the album is closer “Tähti-yö ja hevoiset.” Not only does it have a Mercyful Fatey “Dangerous Meeting” introduction but there’s an obvious high in volume and vocal aggressiveness.

But the closer has extra features that make it special. The kind that reminds you of the conclusion to a fantastic headliner. When the show ends, you’re high-fiving your friends and exclaiming, “fuck, that was good” because you don’t know what else to say. You’re more-than-satisfied by the performance and hovering on a cloud as you follow the crowd out of the venue. The feedback following you out of the pit, out of the “EXIT”-posted doubled-doors, and into the warm night. The reverberation that will ring in your ears for the rest of the week.

The compression being the biggest issue of the album, Uinuos syömein sota is a masterful follow-up to Kelle surut soi. The band hasn’t discovered the pros to opening-up the dynamics to enrich their sound, but that doesn’t ruin it for me.23 In particular, the addictive, emotional guitar leads of the album take the band’s sound to new heights. Add the impressive riffage and solo work to the fist-pumping builds and you have Uinuos syömein sota. As you can see below, I scored this new record the same as their last. So, it doesn’t quite out-do it. But, I’ve said it before and say it again: Havukruunu is coming into their own and this release is official proof. What else is in the future for a 4.0/5.0 band? Lots.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Naturmacht Productions | Bandcamp4
Websites: hammerstunde.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/havukruunu
Releases Worldwide: August 14th, 2020

Show 4 footnotes

  1. You like how open-ended that is?
  2. And, though, they never sent us an official promo for review, I’ll do my best to not be mad/sad.
  3. :(
  4. This is the place to be.
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