|#FOR FANS OF: Pagan Back|
The German scene is, as you probably know, one of the richest ones in terms of quantity and quality. We can find excellent classic projects, or newer ones that continue to release great stuff. Due to this, it is particularly difficult to find a band which manages to carve its own niche and maintains a bunch of loyal fans after some time. The solo project Horn, located in North Rhine´Westhaplia and founded in 2002, is one of them. The fact of being a one man project makes it more meritorious, since over time it would be logic if the project loses some of its freshness and inspiration. Fortunately, this hasn’t been the case of Horn, a project which released some impressive first efforts like ‘Jahreszeiten’ and ‘Die Kraft der Szenarien’. Anyway, Horn has continued to make interesting albums, though I must admit that its latest works like ‘Turn am Hang’ showed a project reinvigorated and with fresh ideas. Horn has played from its beginning a quite essential form of pagan metal, lacking of truly elaborated compositions, but having a so sincere, authentic essence in its music that its songs were inevitably great. The combination of simple melodies and a strong vocal performance was simply perfect and Horn´s compositions had in those old albums a truly hypnotic attraction. Later on the band evolved with some slightly darker works, while with the last records, Nerrath seems to recover some old majesty, enriched with new ideas.
Having this in mind, I was excited to check what Horn was going to offer this time with the new release ‘Mohngang’. Since the very first listen, we can appreciate that Horn´s core sound is still there in its entirety. The production, as occurred in the latest works, has improved through time and now it sounds reasonable polished and clean, but with a healthy balance between this cleanness and the necessary rudeness that the band requires. Stylistically, the new tracks have the expected pagan black metal sound with a strong epic touch. The initial track "Satt Scheint Der Sud Der Tat" has all the elements we love from this band. Nerrath’s vocals sounds as strong as ever, with his traditional aggressive tone, tastefully mixed with cleaner vocals gifted of an intense epic approach. The drums have a martial sound at times, yet sound varied and well executed. Pace wise, the song flows naturally between faster and slower sections, making a very varied and entertaining track. The album has an impressive start with the opener and the following two or three songs, which sound quite powerful and have a slightly faster pace at times. "Det Star Her Som Sletta" is another punch in your face, with its battling tone. The guitars shine in this song and in general in the whole album, with very well executed riffs, with a distinctive melodic and triumphal tone. The track is enriched with some acoustic guitars and epic arrangements, aimed at increasing the vigorous tone of this excellent song. Horn doesn’t overcharge its compositions with tons of arrangements or details, as they are moderately, yet tastefully, introduced when it’s required, in order to enrich the composition and give it a different and distinguishable touch. After the beautiful and folk interlude of "Dulcimerstück", the album reaches its end with two quite different tracks, showing the two sides of Horn. "Vom Tribock Hohl Geschossen" sounds as powerful and epic as the rest of the album, with this vibrant pace and tone, while "Ødegård Und Pendelschlag" has a slightly more somber tone, like a soundtrack after the battle. This song could serve as the sonic representation of the devastation depicted in the album cover. It’s not maybe my preferred track from this work, but it serves as a very appropriate end for the album, leaving aside the cello version of the track "Die Mit Dem Bogen Auf Dem Kreuz" which comes later. This version of the song is a beautiful and dramatic closure of the new album, even if it could be considered as a bonus track.
'Mohhgang' is definitively a worthy listen if you like Horn and pagan metal in general. It’s difficult to place this album in such a great discography but, it is undoubtedly an excellent release full of great tracks, brisk melodies, majesty and strength. (Alain González Artola)
(Iron Bonehead Productions - 2020)