Liturgy take notes. THIS is how you do triumphant black metal. Because it’s not just the chords you play, it’s how you play them. Sure, Havukruunu is not the first band ever to utilize major chords in black metal. And they’re certainly not the first pagan black metal band to make an album that feels like an epic journey. But they are one of the few to do both of these things right, in my eyes (or rather, ears). Instead of simply using orchestral synths, or vocals that sound more like norse chants to create the whole “epic viking” scene, they use what would be considered epic in the traditional metal sense. Solos. Heavy fucking metal solos. It took me way off guard, but god damn does it work. I debated with myself as to whether the fuzzy, atmo black atmosphere actually works well with the clean, guitar shredding runs. I don’t think there is a true yes or no answer to that, but I do know that it doesn’t not work, which is good enough for what this album is.
While I do again get that sense of epic adventure when listening to this, overall I do feel that as a whole the atmosphere is a tad underwhelming. Maybe this goes back to whether or not the fuzzy production works with the clean solos. The epic guitar shreds create a large atmosphere, while the distorted tremolos as a backdrop create something more small and homily. I like to imagine that the bands who create metal albums are not actually humans, but rather creatures from different realms. I see heavy metal bands as like gods from a realm of adventure and danger, having bodies like that of greek gods, wearing denim jackets, singing about their exploits. Atmospheric Black Metal bands are actually from earth, though they are misanthropic, ugly creatures who dwell in caves and dark forests. Power metal of course comes from a land where everything is made entirely of cheese, though that’s for another album review. Anyway, seeing these two images coincide with each other is rather striking, maybe for me more than another. It creates a bit of confusion as to whether I really love this, or just like this. I think for now I’ll go somewhere inbetween. Havulinna is a unique record that does a lot of things that many fail at right, though in a way of which I probably can’t fully appreciate.