Hin Onde - _Songs of Battle_
(Aftermath Music, 2000)
by: Alvin Wee (6.5 out of 10)
Having somewhat enjoyed Svartalfheim's raw Storm-isms on their obscure demo some years back, I looked forward to more of the same from this renamed and infinitely sleeker outfit. Needless to say, Hin Onde still churn out heavily folk-tinged tunes, but having dropped the obvious clone-factor in favor of a more standard ethnic-based black metal. Catchy folk melodies have always been the band's forte, and the eleven battle hymns on offer here firmly attest to that fact. Opening the album with an outstandingly memorable synth ditty, the title track sets the mood right from the start. While die-hards might find the simplemindedness of the tune irredeemably cheesy, it remains curiously infectious. The band's weakness, however, is already apparent on this first track, when things take a turn for the slow midway through the song. The atrocious clear yowling that plagued their otherwise commendable demo makes a regrettable appearance here, and the liveliness of the preceding minutes is veritably wrecked by the slowed tempo. This seems to be the major fault of the album; the band's strength lies in liveliness and memorable tunes, and any departure from that norm seems to result in near-disasters. The obviously outstanding tracks boast oddly hummable melodies. "Fimbulwinter" kicks off with a foot-tapping eagerness, the cheerful tune strangely inappropriate for the subject matter: "...dark clouds form in the sky, the winter storms arrive..." just doesn't click with the jovial atmosphere. No matter, it remains as effective as the following "Through Sinister Landscapes", which adopts a more experimental approach, disharmonic riffs clashing brilliantly with the folkloric background. Hin Onde seem to come into their own on later tracks, "24th of September..." showcasing a more developed side of the band, weaving the sonorous black metal guitar punch with rapidly repeated chants, quiet tension-building interludes and the ever-present folk-motif running through. Three bonus tracks are included, all versions of other tracks already in the album, not adding much to the overall effect except to lengthen an already dangerously mediocre piece. On the whole, _SoB_ should garner some attention from the underground, just how much is anybody's guess. Lack of maturity seems to have dampened the promising nature of this album, and should Hin Onde develop their style any further, the next record will be something formidable indeed.

Contact: Aftermath Music, Box 721, N-7407 Trondheim, Norway

(article published 20/11/2000)

11/20/2000 A Wee Hin Onde: Songsmiths of Battle
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