HORNA should need no introduction. For over 20 years now, the Finnish black metal institution - founded by uber-prolific guitarist/songwriter Shatraug (SARGEIST, Behexen, et al) - have built a vast, virulent body of work beyond compare. Hailing the ancient ways, HORNA have always honored the underground with myriad EP and split releases. In the interim since their last album for W.T.C. PRODUCTIONS, 2013's critically acclaimed Askel lähempänä Saatanaa, the quintet have released two splits, with Den Saakaldte and Demonic Christ, and now arrives their highly anticipated ninth album, Hengen Tulet.
Their first album for W.T.C., Askel lähempänä Saatanaa served as a unique turning point in the HORNA canon. Not only was there a five-year gap between albums - almost an eternity in HORNA terms, considering their restless release schedule - but it was the first album to feature vocalist Spellgoth following the departure of longtime frontman Corvus. Although new to the HORNA camp, Spellgoth is a scene veteran, numbering Darkwoods My Betrothed, Black Death Ritual, and Prevalent Resistance among his resume, as well as classic session vocals for Baptism's Morbid Wings of Sathanas. With his arrival brought both a new and renewed focus to HORNA: Askel lähempänä Saatanaa brimmed with the ancient mysticism of the band's earliest work, and yet revealing new nightside shapes.
Now, with Hengen Tulet, HORNA continue to refine that approach, and yet bring back in the filthier textures of the Corvus years. Both sonicaly and songwriting-wise, Askel lähempänä Saatanaa was something of a throwback to mid '90s black metal classicism. By contrast, Hengen Tulet carries forward a similar songwriting aesthetic - surging 'n' swooshing speed, spiraling melody both majestic and malevolent - but reinvigorates a foul, fetid primitivism. It's still a supremely varied yet focused spin, compact (and caustic) as ever, but the headbanging, hard-charging tropes are surely a sign of HORNA's well-oiled machinery lately on the live front, where Spellgoth has cultivated no small amount of infamy for his penetrating performances.
The third glorious epoch of HORNA continues with Hengen Tulet, and yet further live assaults are planned for the rest of the year and next. (N.T.B)
released September 22, 2015
Recorded and mixed at Studio Blackvox, spring 2015.
Mastered by T.T., June 2015.
Cover paintings laid on canvas by Pahapasi, spring 2015.
Photography & design by K.Letho, Porta Atra.
All music and lyrics written by Shatraug, arranged to their final form by Horna.