Hartaus - Lansirintama
Self-released
Epic Black Metal
3 songs (22'24")
Release year: 2004
Reviewed by Alex

I know very little about Hartaus. Pretty much nothing at all, except that the first CDR demo of the band has been submitted for review. Sometimes, especially with young bands, it is even better that way, keeping me completely unbiased as to what type of metal and quality of music I am about to hear. Not a total giveaway, the name of the album, Lansirintama, plus all track names are in Finnish (or what I think is Finnish, anyway, excuse me for not being more proficient in this Scandinavian tongue, where is Aleksie when we need him?). Just reading all those long wordy song titles gives an impression of something epic to follow. Combined with the track lengths, 6, 7, 9 min long, you can be almost certain of that.

Hartaus is, in fact, a one-man project and epic black metal is on display with Lansirintama. I recall every time a Moonsorrow album is reviewed the fans are asking: “Who else plays this style?” Well, you can safely add Hartaus to the list. One has to be careful with this genre of metal, however, as the line between authentic and forced is so thin. I am, therefore, happy to report that Hartaus is definitely authentic and not at all forced or cheesy. There is no overreliance on keyboards to create a grandiose atmosphere. Come to think of it, Lansirintama is much more about ancient feeling than pompous façade. And keyboards are used simply to place the “ancient” into some cold places, invoking clean cold water somewhere North of Lapland in the intro to Jaahyvaissaarna.

Rhythmic structures of Lansirintama alternate between blasting and much slower reserved and steady beat. The former meshes well with tremolo style sweep picking riffs and melodies. The latter is mostly used to deliver the vocals, and I don’t understand a single word of lyrics since it is all in Finnish. The vocals of Lansirintama are done in a very interesting unique manner. Not clean, croaked, they have both rasp and echoing effect, sounding like it is coming back from the ages. Such vocals really help to set the mood needed for the archaic old feeling of the demo. Only rarely, in some blasting sections of Mekaaninen Kiesus, the vocals almost come clean. For a one-man band, however, all vocals are layered so much there is a definite illusion of multiple singers combined to form one ancient Viking choir.

Even though guitars are mostly used to bring some not so definitive riff progressions, the melodies are abound on Lansirintama. I have to admit that you have got to be born in Scandinavia to get a feel for such melodies, be it the triumphant end of Jaahyvaissaarna or folk dance of Legioonalainen.

The demo would have been so much better if the production had more clarity. I understand why it is muffled, just like the rare and antique piece can’t be all spic’n’span. It is damned if you do and damned if you don’t. One needs bass to add power to the sound, but whenever bass drums get loud on Lansirintama they drown the rest of the music making it not legible.

Hartaus will certainly appeal to the fans of Moonsorrow, especially those who prefer the less refined sound. It can be also compared to Windir, before it became a full blown band, especially Soknardalr. With more studio time, Hartaus could be sending this and its next demo to Spikefarm already.

Killing Songs :
There are only three tracks, the demo flows well and you've got to take it as a whole
Alex quoted 73 / 100
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