As Noitia on Minun Sukuni, the debut album of Finnish black metallers Hiidenhauta menaces, toys, and seduces the imagination the overriding thought is that here we have a mouthwatering proposition with the potential to be a major force within the genre in the future. Brewing up an encounter best described as symphonic meets folk in a black metal landscape, though that only hints in many ways at the adventure sculpted, their first full-length is an unpredictable and enthralling eight track exploration of the senses. It is not without a few moments which are not as successful as others but from start to finish it captivates and stirs emotions to create one of the more refreshing and exciting blackened exploits to come along over past months.
The band was formed in the early weeks of 2012 by vocalists Fornjotur and Riena. The pair soon enlisted keyboardist Gastjäle, bassist Ihtirieckos, and drummer Rostiof to explore and expand their inventive sound before guitarist Marras was added to complete the line-up that summer. With lyrics written in old Finnish kalevalametre and finding inspiration from nature, Baltic-Finnish mythology, anti-Christianity aspects, history, and darkness to create dramatic narratives to match the sounds, the band unveiled their first EP Surma saapuu suota myöten in the wintery beginning of 2013. Well-received it was followed a few months later by the Eikä aurinko valaise EP, again to strong responses. It drew the band to the attention of Inverse Records who now release the new record. The Satakunta sextet make a striking persuasion and presence on their to be widely released album, an initial full strike triggering what you can easily see as being a triumphant and long term journey ahead.
The release opens with a scenic ambience but one soon soaked in a portent atmosphere and brewing intimidation. Keys bring the first wave of drama within Tuhkasta with thick punchy rhythms in close attendance as the track expands its embrace and stretch. As soon as the carnivorous bass snarl aligned to caustic riffs stalks the senses alongside rapaciously delivered vocals squalls and the increased adrenaline of drums, the track becomes a contagious beast of a proposal. But then just as you take a tight grip ready to charge eagerly across the ravenous torrent the band rips the ground from the feet with the excellent temptress tones of Riena. The music instantly relaxes to caress her seductive voice but it is a brief respite as the track reasserts its predatory appetite and leaps voraciously at the listener once again. Acidic grooves and imagination infecting hooks incite with the richest toxicity whilst the twists and intrigue of the song simply satisfy every want of the imagination. It all makes for a stunning start and confirmation of a band on the rise.
The following Raato opens with a gothic breath, mere seconds of House of Usher like mystery before uncaging another ravenous intent and intensity. The corrosive delivery of Fornjotur is a pungent vocal incitement for the incendiary rhythmic onslaught and tightly entwining grooves, whilst the sirenesque lures of Riena only accelerate the mesmeric danger rather than temper is suasion. Pestilential in attack and sonic predation, absorbing in breath and melodic enchantment, the song like its predecessor evolves before the ears without deviating for its almost insidious purpose, the enslaving of bodies and emotions.
Tuo On Tuuli Nuolen Tuoja preys on the senses from its first slow sonic wrapping of guitar around the ears. It is not an open intimidation though as a reserved and potent hook teases from within the reined causticity. The track is a relatively brief instrumental which worms under the skin and across synapses setting up thoughts for the dangerous charms of Hiiden Virsi. Featuring Jonne Järvelä from Korpiklaani who provides a wonderful shamanic abrasing, the track is a simultaneously vitriolic and meditative intrusion. Almost like being lost in a self-induced altered state where all the light and dark hopes and fears flail at the senses in physical form, the track is a transfixing yet uncomfortable tempest. It gives the imagination and emotions a playground to exploit though the same can be said about the whole release to be fair.
The classically bred keys of Gastjäle add a crystalline evocation to the bordering bedlamic Sumussa Soutava next. It is a track which bewitches and savages, once again creating a consumptive tapestry which never settles or leaves warning signs within its meandering soundscape. Though it does not stand up as impressively as the earlier songs it still leaves a rewarding bait to greedily devour, the dual vocals of bestial and beauteous depths especially thrilling. Its closing acoustic caress leads the listener into the eager ravenous jaws of Ruumisvedet, raw riffs and scowling vocals welcoming submission for its grizzly rock n roll majesty. An irresistible groove makes the first irrepressible trap, soon backed up by expressive keys and uncompromising rhythms. There is a devilish swagger and repetitive bait to the track which is wholly addictive but similarly the enchanted allurement of Riena and the melodic weaves which emerge without warning from within the brawling aggression, make a lingering temptation.
The brilliant scourge ensures that the nine minute plus landscape of Kaartuvat is under pressure. It is a slightly overlong oppressive exposure for the senses, attention wavering at times, but it is still one which never leaves a moment redundant of enterprise and intrigue as it provides another aspect to the songwriting and stance of the band. It is followed by Sula Pohjaan Luut Levolle; an inspiring emotive piano crafted instrumental offering an epilogue if not to the album to the previous adventure.
Hiidenhauta is a band with a powerful destiny ahead of them and using Noitia on Minun Sukuni as evidence, will be making fine and potent use of it.
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