As I sit here on my porch, typing what is sure to be nothing but nonsense on my phone and pounding coffee like it’ll bring back Agalloch, the coming dark that descends upon my world is twofold. The sun, hated thing of warmth and light that it is, graciously concedes its dominion unto the moon for the next several hours, and just as the day succumbs to night so to are the last vestiges of summer beginning to kindly die in the advent of autumn. With the annual pilgrimage to dead leaves and perpetual darkness underway, an appropriate soundtrack is imperative to survival; I need something that will simultaneously sonically augment the surrounding scenery as well as shield me from its scheduled sadness, something which will bring this death to life and save me from it. Such a savior has arrived in the form of Vorna‘s Sateet palata saavat, and though I am loathe to share such splendor with the likes ov you, the urge to babble about said greatness has temporarily overtaken my selfish recalcitrance: you’re welcome, yo.
Things get off to a surreptitious start with a deceptively innocuous intro track that further beats the dead horses of “epic orchestral intro segue nonsense,” but those who don’t immediately retreat with upturned noses will quickly recognize Sateet palata saavat as some of the best folking meloblack released in recent times. The ghosts of Gothenburg haunt the shadows between keyboard accents and aggressive yet melodic riff work, recalling Insomnium or Amorphis at their absolute darkest. By the time the final moments of “Kauas” have passed, listeners have been transported to a world of fjords, foliage, freezing temperatures, and all them familiar forlorn Finland feelz, and I fucking dare you not to immediately flock back to their forest for more. Vorna intersperse acoustic folk elements and traditional blackened shrieks into a medley of melodeath and black metal that you don’t deserve, the kind that would make a weaker Muppet tremble for fear of overrating. Not to worry, I had my VVheaties today.
Vorna‘s secret to success stems from staying sensibly centered on the songs themselves, as opposed to setting aside certain sections for the specific sounds of the styles they ascribe to; Sateet palata saavat isn’t broken up into folk metal tracks and “proper” metal tracks, nor are the individual songs divided into explicitly acoustic or else furiously distorted passages. Spice of life that variety is, the Finns apply dashes of clean guitar work and ethereal keyboardery as needed, never overdoing either to the point of tethering the tracks to the tropes and titles of any one genre. Vocalist Vesa Salovaara is likewise versatile yet evenhanded, delivering gravelly growls and throat shredding shrieks just as convincingly and capably as he can cleanly croon. In short, Vorna have all but perfected the Insomnium Gatherumorphis recipe, and it’s tough for me to find much to criticize here—and yet, somehow, I will soldier through it.
Don’t get me wrong, these songs are awesome; I love “Toinen” just as much as I love “Maa martona makaa”—and therein lies the
beauty problem. For all Vorna do to blend the best bits of their heroes into something of equal greatness, Sateet palata saavat lacks a “Black Winter Day” or “Silver Bride” of its own, or else a truly classic riff a la “The Killjoy” or “Day of Your Beliefs.” The vocals are great, the riffs are killer, and the compositions are typically arranged in a manner that avoids the stagnation of formulaic repetition, and yet it still seems a bit of a shame that there isn’t that one special track on Sateet palata saavat that makes for an obvious fan favorite. That said, the full extent of my complaints is “this is only excellent but it could be amazing,” so things could certainly be worse.
As the months and landscapes give way to the procession of autumn and the cold, subsequent realities of winter inbound, Vorna have no shortage of competition when it comes to selecting the perfect soundtrack for the grimmest ov seasons. As it stands, the newness of this album and its undeniably strong resonance within me have secured it a spot in my upcoming seasonal playlists, possibly even in the prestigious and globally sought-after Muppet‘s Top Ten(ish), but it’s uncertain if it will be able to hold its own against the likes of Skyforger1 in the years to come. Be that as it may, Vorna have nonetheless leaped straight to the forefront of bands I’m keeping an eye on. This is some splendid silver medal stuff, but there’s gold in them there Finns, I just know it.