Horna – Sotahuuto Review

originally written by Chris McDonald

Horna have always been a solid and respectable black metal band in my eyes. Nothing they’ve done has ever really blown me out of the water (I‘m actually a much bigger fan of Horna-offshoot Satanic Warmaster), but they’ve been fairly consistent in the span of their lengthy career, and have never really suffered any major drops in quality like many bands do at some point in their discography. The only Horna album I own is 2005’s Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne, and I enjoy it a lot; again, nothing mind-blowing, but some great melodies and a generally quality release overall. While last year’s Ääniä Yössä was a dark, atmospheric work, Sutahutto is an album’s worth of rocking, throwback Bathory worship. The band is calling this release a “tribute” to the Swedish legends, but it seems an odd kind of tribute to rip off a well-known band for your own material rather than simply covering theirs. But hey, who cares? The songs rock like hell.

As a big fan of old-school black metal, I can’t deny my enjoyment of this album. It’s got raspy vocals, catchy riffs, and simplistic rhythms. What’s not to like? Despite this album‘s mostly non-diverse nature (in fact, a few of the riffs sound a little too similar to one another), it remains a wholly entertaining listen from beginning to end. The riff-attack mostly focuses on old-school, thrashy segments reminiscent of Bathory’s first couple of albums as opposed to melodies more characteristic of the Norwegian second wave, which is good or bad depending on what you like in your black metal. For me, Horna pulls of this style pretty damn effectively. The mid-paced opener “Lähtölaukaus” had me thrashing about my car before I even knew what was happening, and the quicker gallop of “Ukkosmarssi” is sure to evoke many a smile from veteran black metallers. It seems to me that this album is just as much of a tribute to Celtic Frost and Venom as much as Bathory–the slower segments such as the one in “Tulikäsky” are particularly reminiscent of Frost, which is obviously a plus in my book. The production is another positive; clear, but definitely raw. The drumming mostly avoids blasting and double-bass in favor of mid-paced, high-hat driven beats that give good flow to the songs. Vocals are pretty standard, but also entertaining.

The reason I’m not giving this a higher score has nothing to do with how much I enjoy the songs–they really are good. It’s just that Horna are treading a pretty familiar path here, and to be honest they don’t quite inject the songs with quite enough energy or subtle innovation to really make this a necessary listen. As mentioned before, some of the riffs are annoyingly repetitive and similar-sounding (and the whole album sounds familiar enough as it is), and this keeps this release from being as memorable as it could be. I enjoyed Sutahutto as a nice diversion from the rest of Horna’s discography, but I also look forward to their next album hopefully reverting back to a somewhat more original, modern sound. Still, a solid buy.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

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