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Havukruunu - Kuu Erkylän Yllä review

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Band: Havukruunu
Album: Kuu Erkylän Yllä
Release date: October 2021

01. Kuu Erkylän Yllä
02. Yön Torni
03. Routapanssari
04. Mustan Merkin Enteen Alla
05. Talvikuu

Havukruunu are striking while the iron is hot, which I’m sure their ancestors would approve of.

Havukruunu have been around for quite a while, but it was only last year when they made a major breakthrough with Uinuos Syömein Sota; from the eye-catching cover with two ancient kings crossing swords to the ear-catching high-octane Viking meloblack, the album was something of a sensation, to the extent that it managed to pip not one but two high-profile comeback albums from folk metal titans to claim the crown of Best Folk/Pagan/Viking Metal Album of 2020 in our annual awards. A bit over a year after the release of Uinuos Syömein Sota, Havukruunu have dropped a new record, Kuu Erkylän Yllä, which is ostensibly an EP, although at 35 minutes in length, it’s still a substantial body of music.

The promotional blurb for Kuu Erkylän Yllä states that it “contains Havukruunu’s earliest and latest compositions combined, reworked and finished to do justice to the original vision of the band”. It’s not entirely clear which songs on Kuu Erkylän Yllä are old or new compositions, as I couldn’t see any of the songs featured here on the tracklists of any of their previous releases, album, demo or otherwise. When I reviewed Uinuos Syömein Sota last year, I mentioned that the record fell very cleanly into a genre category, with the album’s sound exemplifying what one would expect from a Viking black metal album. Well, just as Uinuos Syömein Sota doesn’t really vary from Viking black metal conventions, Kuu Erkylän Yllä doesn’t really vary from what was found on its predecessor, so it’s hard to tell from listening to the EP which songs were written in which period of the band’s history.

Like Uinuos Syömein Sota, Kuu Erkylän Yllä opens with a title track, and the key attributes I described on the last album - constant tremolo meloblack riffs with Viking melodies, blasting drumming, folky guitar melodies, explosive solos - are all on display on “Kuu Erkylän Yllä”. Probably the one thing that might differentiate this song from a track like “Uinuos Syömein Sota” is what sounds like a slightly more primitive touch to the production and writing, but it’s a fairly negligible difference. However, along with all the musical elements that Kuu Erkylän Yllä carries over from Uinuos Syömein Sota, it also shares the same high quality of songwriting, with no stronger example than “Kuu Erkylän Yllä”, which undergoes a subtle shift about halfway through to a more melodic tone that really elevates the song, even as the relentless blasting drives it unstoppably forwards.

So, how does the “original vision” of Havukruunu stack up to their breakout success? When an album is such a strong case of ‘more of the same’, it is going to be hard to stand out against something that people are already familiar with and fond of, and despite the overall level of songwriting on Kuu Erkylän Yllä, it has neither a shocking twist nor an especially attention-grabbing song to allow it to rival its predecessor, although the title track tries its best on the latter front. “Routapanssari” has lots of tremolo and blasting along with a more mid-tempo Viking-oriented second half, and the riffs and melodies are fine, but it’s not really an improvement on what Havukruunu have produced, whilst being a bit of a drag in the process at nearly 8 minutes in length. “Mustan Merkin Enteen Alla” is a bit more exciting with its pyrotechnic solos and more dynamic chop-changing, but ultimately there’s nothing here that’s stood out as an improvement on Uinuos Syömein Sota.

Given how well Uinuos Syömein Sota went down both here and across the online metal network, I’m sure there’s plenty of enthusiasm for another dollop of the same from Havukruunu. As long as you’re not looking for more than that, Kuu Erkylän Yllä should serve you well, but it does feel like a slightly lesser imitation of last year’s sensation.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 5
Production: 7

Written on 12.10.2021 by Hey chief let's talk why not

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