Havukruunu have masterminded one of the most well-crafted albums released this year — black metal or otherwise. Kelle surut soi blends the encompassing and hypnotic atmospheres of atmoblack with the aggression of straight-up black metal, spiced with the exuberance and creativity of folk black to marry it all together. This formula may sound familiar, even tired, but Havukruunu execute it flawlessly — and in their mastery, they have created something new, excellent, and exciting.
The melodies on Kelle surut soi are astonishingly triumphant. Each song has at least one unbridled, glorious riff that seems to chronicle a great victory or herald homecoming heroes. Think of the climactic chorus to a dramatic Moonsorrow epic, but speed things up by about 80 BPM, and then put those euphoric moments in every song. That’s Kelle surut soi, and it’s absolutely beautiful. Clean choral arrangements lend a reverent sort of gravitas to the album, as if it were an epic poem passed down through oral history, recited by dwindling campfire to us, the rapt youths. As it captures beauty in melodic and choral arrangements, Kelle surut soi also harnesses raw aggression as well. Blastbeats pump the lifeblood of the album, and chaotic crashes often punctuate chord changes, adding to the dynamic and lively feel of the riffs.
The production is a work of art. Somehow, Havukruunu have found the promised land where dense, layered compositions can also have appropriate space between instruments without them sounding like disparate elements. The guitar is not buried under constant blastbeats or washed out in the keyboards; instead, all three instruments work together to create a sound that is both sharp and dynamic in its chord changes and beefy and full during a blazing tremolo section. The songwriting also helps to make this formula tick. The band rarely forces tremolo riffs, blastbeats, and harsh vocals to compete for a listener’s attention at once. Instead, they tastefully reserve their full sonic firepower for when it will be most impactful. Acoustic interludes and slower choral sections also help to break up the sound into digestible parts, which is particularly helpful because the album sounds fairly homogenous throughout.
Kelle surut soi also uses solos to tremendous effect. Solos in black metal are fairly rare, which is stupid, so fortunately Havukruunu uses solos to continue the journey of a few songs through expressive, untamed shredding.
Havukruunu have created one of the best metal albums of 2017, and if you haven’t heard it, you’re missing out. In Kelle surut soi Havukruunu have merged black metal and atmoblack together so well that you won’t find the seams. Take a listen and enjoy the ride.