Havukruunu – Uinuos Syömein Sota


Another entry in Finland’s modern black metal repertoire proves yet again they are a hotspot for taking the genre forward with amazing ferocity. Emerging as a band first performing under the name Talvikuu translating to “wintermoon”, Talvikuu must have become self-aware of the trope they were plummeting into. Now their current name, Havukruunu, translating to “coniferous crown”, better reflects their originality and illustrates their pagan and melodic leanings more aptly. Despite being relatively new on the scene, this outfit know they have what it takes to turn things upside down.

You’ll need a moment to process Havukruunu’s colourful approach to the depressive blackened metal you’re used to, especially when decorated with a deceptive yet quintessential black metal aesthetic. Uinuos Syömein Sota sees to this right away with its triumphant and indulgent delivery, in isolated war metal choral passages, martial drums and the crashing of a gong. One of Havukruunu’s most notable departures from its aesthetic and genre, is its gratuitous shredding. The guitar passages in the album are powerful and precise, blooming out of every new progression on the front end of the tracklist. Just listen to the sophisticated instrumentation in ‘Vähiin Päivät Käy’ that verges on the adventurous hallmarks of djent. Even Kostajainen’s ferocious blast beats sound romantic in ‘Ja Viimein On Yö’ under Stefan and Henkka’s playful adornments. Some of this breakneck shredding wouldn’t sound out of place on a Megadeth CD, and it’s impossible to resist.

Nevertheless, Havukruunu risk the critique of painting their early influences a little too vividly on their sleeve. While the solos add exciting flavour, there are a lot of them, and at some stage at the midway point, the band begin to illustrate a decorated float of clumsy 80s hair metal riding full force to the clandestine black metal mass. Take ‘Tähti-Yö Ja Hevoiset’, making the bold claim there’s nothing like starting with a drum fill from a Rick Astley track and mid-tempo chugging guitars to paint a blackened wasteland. To the album’s credit, this is probably the only track your dad might just pull off practising in the garage. The album ends with some classy Berlin School style ambience that recalls Steve Roach, which always scores points. Though not without sounding a little incongruous for a Finnish black metal act, we know great things can come from the pentatonic beginnings of thrash, but it’s often a tired act when reanimated in the twenty-first century.

But this is all forgiven in the album’s humble sensibility and understanding of all the styles it collages. ‘Kunnes Varjot Saa’s’ acoustic intermissions and birdcalls bring a spectral pagan flair, while ‘Kuin Öinen Meri’s’ opening chords ring out profoundly. While almost on cue, with any song the band knows when to stumble into the swinging rhythms of Finland’s folk metal titans Moonsorrow and evolve them with cutting edge interplay. Havukruunu are not betraying convention, they are showing off how complete their vision is. It is an infectious experience, and every progression into a new song screams: “onwards, onwards!”

JS


Verdict


Release Date: 14/08/2020

Record Label: Naturmacht Productions

Standout tracks: Ja Viimein On Yö, Uinuos Syömein Sota, Kunnes Varjot Saa

Suggested Further Listening: Abigor – Fractal Possession (2007), Diabolical Masquerade – Nightwork (1998), Sear Bliss – Glory and Perdition (2004)