The first entry in this new blog section celebrating the Finnish BM scene is dedicated to one of the finest split releases I have ever heard. In July 2004, Grievantee Productions released this split EP from two of the most established and revered acts on the BM scene in Finland. A split of real contrast, this offering gave two sides of the coin in every aspect. The lo-fi production of Horna with the shrieking vocals of Corvus at the front of the delivery giving marked difference to the scathing yet melodic attack of Behexen.
I have read much criticism of Horna's contribution and to some degree I can understand this. The almost soulless performance sounds empty and devoid of depth in some ways. Yet this in so many ways is also why it works so well for me. The performance sounds authentic and atavistic, like the awakening of something believed to be long-dead and forgotten, now brought back to some living/undead state to unleash its ancient threat on an unsuspecting world. Punky stabs underpin the relentless delivery giving space for some respectful foot stomping as well as neck snapping.
The grim and dank nature of Horna's four tracks here match perfectly the artwork that adorns (this version) of the release. It feels like Finnish BM, full of such cold hatred and pure, unbridled suffering. Its grimness punctuated by the already mentioned vocal prowess of Corvus. Horna here remind me of the understated riffing of Darkthrone elevated in an absolute maelstrom of pitch black darkness.
By way of contrast, Behexen have a cleaner sound from the off. Obviously more melodic yet still racing and aggressive to make them marginally more accessible than Horna. Hoath's vocals are more buried in the mix than Corvus' but the intense gallop and scathing delivery somehow elevates them just enough. There's definitely more of a feeling of there being a "wall" of noise on the Behexen contribution but the tracks themselves have a more discernible series of transitions that fill the soundscape perfectly, permeating the parts Horna's contribution cannot reach.
Despite the marked difference in production values, the Behexen tracks compliment the Horna ones perfectly (and vice the versa). The combination of the two styles make the EP a triumph of opposites and I find this EP works really well on shuffle to emphasise this. Of the Behexen tracks, "A Distant Call From Darkness" is my preferred choice with its blend of galloping riffage, scathing vocals and melancholic melody. The guitar sound on this track is fucking pandemic level infectious!
I would encourage any BM fan to purchase and embrace this most essential of Finnish BM releases.