Horna - Kuoleman Kirjo
World Terror Committee
Black Metal
13 songs (1:07:34)
Release year: 2020
World Terror Committee
Reviewed by Goat

Since their formation in the early days of the 90s, Finnish terror squad Horna have blazed strongly in their Satanic outpourings, and so it's no surprise to find that their first full-length in five years (and tenth overall) is a ritualistic, intense set of songs that will please devotees and leave others nonplussed. Kuoleman Kirjo ("the Spectrum of Death") is a long, samey album, with songs mostly creeping over the five minute mark and being quite happy to repeat themselves in search of that magical hypnotic effect. And this sometimes works very effectively, particularly if you're making an effort to be absorbed by Horna's spells - it's markedly less so when used as backing music! Always a solid band if struggling to break through this austere image of being from the underground, for the underground, reviewing Horna is essentially confirming your pre-existing bias towards them. Picking standout moments here is difficult, as frequent as they may be; the true battery of the opening Saatanan Vinen ("Satan's Vine") is about as pure as black metal gets, guitar lines a little more complex than they need to be. And after a brief pause Elegia follows in much the same tones, a continuance of the dark style rather than a new song, although there are differences in Spellgoth's bellowed vocals, being that extra bit rabid and angry, and the melodies taking a deeper, more atmospheric ambience. There are really only two ways to review this sort of black metal; shrugging and assuming your readership's knowledge of the band, or doing a deep dive...

¿Por qué no los dos? After Elegia the following Uneton continues seamlessly, upping the speed and intensity again while again not straying far from the true black metal barrage. It's hard not to be gripped by the all-encompassing bleakness even while recognising how repetitive it is, and Horna do well to shift to a groovier, ever so slightly more catchy final section in Uneton to allow the listener something of a reprieve. And the load lessens a little more thereafter, Sydänkuoro ("Heart chorus") making its grim stumble through frozen forests more atmospheric and gripping before throwing in some creepy clean singing, as though you have just interrupted some occult ceremony. The stormy Elävänä, kuolleena ("alive, dead") feels like something from an early Enslaved session, and Haudattujen tähtien yönä ("On the night of the buried stars") continues this with group clean vocals giving a mild Viking metal feel. It's all compelling and powerful if not remotely that varied - the likes of Kärsimysten katedraali ("Cathedral of suffering") are angry and intense but nothing especially different. By the time you've reached the last couple of songs on the album, fatigue has set in even if you're enjoying yourself, and so even though, say, Pyhä kuolema ("Holy death") is an especially vicious blaster (and the shortest track present at well under four minutes length) and one of the album's catchier songs, it comes too little too late to really impress. All in all, not amongst Horna's finest albums and difficult to recommend unless you are deeply devotional to the style; it is a solid burst of bleak black metal, however, and will please those the band intended. No compromise was expected, none was received.

Killing Songs :
Sydänkuoro, Rakas Kuu, Pyhä kuolema
Goat quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Horna that we have reviewed:
Horna - Kuolleiden Kuu (EP) reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Horna - Askel Lahempana Saatanaa reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Horna - Sanojesi Aarelle reviewed by James and quoted 43 / 100
Horna - Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne reviewed by Alex and quoted 80 / 100
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