Hiidenhauta - 1695
Inverse Records
Melodic Black Metal with Symphonic Elements
9 songs (34'27")
Release year: 2018
Hiidenhauta, Inverse Records
Reviewed by Alex

It is fantastic from the educational standpoint when metal bands make you do research and learn things. I knew it that the album title 1695 for Finnish band Hiidenhauta stands for something meaningful. A brief look at Wikipedia confirms that this year was a beginning of what is known in Finland as The Great Famine. Beginning in 1695 and over the next couple of years, about 150,000 or one third of Finnish population at the time died of starvation through what is known in Europe as Little Ice Age. Tragic and nation-defining those years must have been for Finns.

So it is those disturbing times Hiidenhauta is trying to depict using melodic black metal. Where the band is to be absolutely commended, they are not trying to just take one facet of the aforementioned style and milk it dry. They are trying to combine more diffuse, less thrashy early Children of Bodom, pagan style of early Ensiferum and blend in some symphonic elements of Wintersun. And so 1695 swings from one fence to another, where combination of guitar riffs and vocal styles are trying to stitch together one cohesive whole, not an easy task.

Some riffs here (AEaerellae, Kuolimaan Tytaer) are unmistakably Finnish melodic black metal, and Talvikaeraejaet definitely features a solid Ensiferum melody, whereas Jumalan Vihan Ruoska goes for slicing cold guitar sounds and steady march keeps grinding on. But then periodically symphonic elements float up, and synthesizer is certainly coming into focus (AEaerellae). Vein ripping tortuous male vocals by Tuomas Keskimaki are certainly a familiar site, but softer female singing by Emma Keskimaki (wife? sister?) to be set against this chaotic background is certainly an unusual choice. I can’t say Hiidenhauta softens up their stance for when it is Emma’s turn, so another pagan creature that she is, there is a bit of a struggle for her to make herself heard on Kuolimaan Tytaer or Talvikaeraejaet. All of this contributes to one anxious palette, which comes into a perfect focus on the penultimate Maan Poveen. A very interesting element to contribute to 1695 was the use of piano, and not of the synthetic type. Musta Leipae and Naelkaekevaet turn the black & ivory keys into out of control, angry and phantasmagorical instrument. Those moments are pure disturbed soul screams and are very fitting on the album which talks about starvation and death.

1695 was an effort I liked better on further listening, where I knew that seemingly unfittingly puzzle pieces will be taking their turn, and mostly with the production sound I cannot call very polished.

Killing Songs :
Maan Poveen, Talvikaeraejaet
Alex quoted 72 / 100
Other albums by Hiidenhauta that we have reviewed:
Hiidenhauta - Eikä Aurinko Valaise reviewed by Aleksie and quoted no quote
Hiidenhauta - Surma Saapuu Suota Myöten reviewed by Aleksie and quoted no quote
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