In the first minute of Hiidenhauta’s “1695” you may be tempted to categorize it as a frenetic and intense black metal record, but unexpected elements quickly break that facade and begin to hint at the wild, albeit short, ride that is to follow. This album is strange, and fans of extreme metal recognize that statement for the high praise that it is. Raw energy meets some prog inclinations, and the result is a strand of blackened violence that doesn’t just pummel with blast beats but punishes tonal sensibilities with an avant-garde assault.
Emma Keskimäki delivers sung vocals which differentiate the group from other black metal acts and lend the tracks a distinct quality: not quite atmospheric but certainly mesmerizing. Voice and guitar melodies juxtaposed with interspersed stabs of dissonant piano create an atmosphere that leaves the listener off-kilter and unable to predict the next course of the music. Make sure to turn up the volume, since the production can sound slightly hollow at lower levels and there are depths and dynamics present that are worth uncovering.
“1695” is not a record for black metal elitists. This is an aggressively unique group, and there are no formulas being followed here: jazz, classical and traditional music are borrowed freely and seamlessly thrown into the mix. If that doesn’t pass your purity test, you’ll want to skip adding this to your collection. For all other extreme metal fans, especially prog minded ones, this is a satisfying listen and will undoubtedly hold up.
Label: Inverse Records (2018)
1. Hallan valta 2. Äärellä 3. Kuolimaan tytär 4. Musta leipä 5. Jumalan vihan ruoska 6. Talvikäräjät 7. Nälkäkevät 8. Maan poveen 9. Nimettömät