Hiidenhauta – Noitia on Minun Sukuni (Inverse Records)

Thursday, 6th March 2014
Rating: 8/10

With all of the art museum quality album covers coming out lately, it’s easy to get spoiled and judge a book by its cover.  Hiidenhauta’s debut full-length Noitia on Minun Sukuni  (roughly Bing-translated to ‘witches are my kindred’) is just the latest example to remind us not to do that.  A quick glance at the artwork is that of simple black and white: a cloaked man holding the severed head of a deer, near what is presumably a shrine or ritual.  Looks like raw and evil black metal, must be raw and evil black metal right?  Well, not quite.

Hiidenhauta opens with a murky atmosphere fitting of it’s notably grim cover, transitioning into some ‘90s influenced melodic black metal with some symphonic elements.  The slight curveball comes in shortly thereafter in the form of some elegant female vocals.  There’s still plenty of grit in the air mind you, but juxtaposition of the harsher and faster (melodic) black metal with the symphonic/folky segments of female vocals elevates the shelf life of Noitia on Minun Sukuni significantly.  There’s even a trace of rock and roll groove and thrash on cuts like “Tuhkasta” that make sure the guitars aren’t going by the wayside with the advent of some of the symphonic elements.

The merger of the ‘90s inspired black metal with the onset of more modern folky black metal elements gives Noitia on Minun Sukuni a more timeless feel than that of being stuck between two worlds.  Even when the band goes for tracks more epic in length, such as “Kaartuvat,” the vocal and musical interplay keeps things from becoming overbearing.  Unlike the cover suggests, there’s a beauty to the album even if you subtract the female vocals and the album ends with an introspective piano piece (“Sula Pohjaan Luut Levolle”).  Keep your eye on Hiidenhauta, they will be a band to watch within the black metal circles in the coming years.

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