(Northern Silence Productions, 2017)
#FOR FANS OF: Epic Folk Black, Drudkh, Waldgefluster
Horn is the kind of one-man black metal band that many of today's bedroom black metal blasters can take some inspiration and notes from. With the album 'Turm am Hang', which (as aptly illustrated on the cover) quite literally translates to 'Tower on the Slope', the old German mainstay of being as literal as possible is beautifully demonstrated alongside the forthright power of some dead-on exhilarating music. So far the title track is the only single of this album and has a great video of the process of illustrating the cover, but I'm sure that metal fans can easily understand why this reviewer believes there to be a striking series of superb songs on this album that can each be considered hits. Horn's matchless mind, Nerrath, has built a formidable structure, composed a captivating aesthetic, and etched it into an imposing black metal monolith.
The album opens with a dour long-winded sigh of a guitar melody that morphs into an intoxicating and inspiring sound. This uniquely frenzied approach is forcibly freed from the fetters of familiar forlorn folk pieces that bridge on banality as they endlessly echo each other. While most black metal accentuates the morose, Horn celebrates the beauty of the melancholy. Riffs revel in dissonant resonating guitars, proudly wailing in an anthemic obscurity, drawing the listener into pensive melodies that, in defiance of their frigid arrangements, become inspirational reveries with an upbeat percussive heat and beer hall style harmonic bliss. This is some after-the-battle beer drinking, fist pumping, headbanging black metal that's not all up its own ass about being cold, kvlt, and hiding in a cave. Instead Horn is celebrating another great evening in Valhalla surrounded by brethren in victory or defeat. Horn also lyrically appreciates nature and the forest, a common theme with many of this band's black metal contemporaries. The fury and structuring of each song puts the band closer on par to the likes of Drudkh and Waldgefluster as riffs round out with some folk and Celtic edges, smatterings of influences that enhance the echoes of fellowship and camaraderie without just repeating the same stances just so say he went there. “Verhallend in Landstrichen” is where you will experience the first major turn from a pair of songs that seemingly go their separate ways to a sound that builds an increasing energy flowing forth from the next three songs. As these pieces grow in intensity they keep a common rhythmic core with a correspondence from the treble issued throughout these marvelous four. The high water marks of 'Turm am Hang' happen in this series of songs where the chorus in “Totenraumer” is signaled by the toll of a bell, the Maidenesque opening of “Die mit dem Bogen auf dem Kreuz” becomes a headbanging hail to badass black metal, and “A(h)renschnitter” envelopes you in shredding melodies undulating around the robust snare hammering. This is an album that must be played live, loud, and to a very drunk crowd. It would be a privilege to see such a spectacle.
After a short interlude called “Lanz und Spiess”, a delirious and unusual track that sounds like the machinations of a restless mind sleeping off the delusions of the drink, the album closes with two strong but slower songs. Like awaking and setting off to task, “Bastion, im Seegang tauber Fels” wearily marches to a new position, forming up and stretching its martial rhythm in preparation for today's predestined practice. “The Sky Has Not Always Been This” sings of the rise and fall of civilizations, the birth and rebirth that humanity has always undergone while the soil underfoot was tread bare by man's ambition. There is some interesting and well-thought arrangement in these songs, some experimentation with different concepts, and a keen ear for production quality throughout Horn's 'Turm am Hang'. While most one-man bedroom black metallers would be quick to describe loneliness, Horn creates a unifying atmosphere throughout the meat of this album. This is a welcome difference to the style of this branch of black metal that has carved out a unique notch in the overall musical tree.