Hennes Siste Høst "Høst" CDPosted on Friday, February 29th, 2008 @ 8:08am » permalink
"Høst" is the rather fucking stunning debut full-length from Minnesota's Hennes Siste Høst on Init Records, and I have to say that I was really quite shocked to see this material coming from a label that I'd never have expected to delve into the black metal realm. Of course, I was initially unsure of what to expect, as the visual aesthetic (impossible to read logo and all) certainly suggests black metal, but three-and-a-half-minute opener "Jevndoegnet" consists solely of sparse piano and whispered vocals with subtle little glitches of distortion and such, so I thought for a second there that this might be one of those experimental noise artists that simply flirts with black metal imagery. But thankfully (though the introductory piece is quite nice) the remaining six tracks explore some truly creative, atmospheric, and above all moving (though honestly I find the lyrics to be incredibly lacking considering how impressive everything else is) black metal in about an hour's time.
The work is the vision of primary member Zander Ness, who handles basically all of the writing duties, as well as the vast majority of the performances on record (live he does the bass and vocals), and should appeal to fans of Weakling, early Ulver, early Agalloch (And those are loose reference points, okay? I'm trying to make the point that this is melodic, has a lot of emphasis, and is fucking awesome, got it?), and any brand of cold, furious, Scandinavian-influenced black metal that explores a lot of spacious, textured riffing and fiercely screamed vocals – with a good balance of moderate tempos and even some unexpected time signatures and almost jazzy/progressive riffs that remind me of bands like Clockhammer or something!? That may sound completely strange, but trust me when I assure you that it all sounds fully logical and cohesive within the confines (or lack thereof) of these compositions. The variety never strays too far, and the quality of the riffs is just fuckin' insane. I can't speak highly enough of the guitar work or how surprised I am by the general nature of the effectiveness of the songwriting here.
But now the part where I have to be brutally honest, which I haven't had to do in awhile. Lyrically there's a theme, and certain passages aren't bad, but then there's shit like this, which just totally obliterates any potential the lyrics might have had for me:
I draw the shades, and pull my switchblade. We fucked on manes, the floor, their graves. We went all the way. She sucked me dry under the stars… She sells sex by the sea. She sells sex straight to me…
I mean, I can't really understand a damn word of the actual vocal performance on the album anyway, so it doesn't disrupt the listen in the least, but I mean… what the fuck!? That shit's cheesier and more irritating than a lot of the usual satanic junk that comes along with this genre. Certainly a letdown considering how fucking top-notch the riffs, performances, songwriting, and musical feeling of the album are as a whole. I was really hoping for some lyrics that had a more personal touch, something that I might be able to identify with in any way, since the music is so far beyond what the vast majority of black metal has to offer.
But that's what really matters at the end of the day anyway, and from a musical standpoint this an absolutely outstanding album that's definitely one of the best black metal records I've heard in several months. I think it was released in 2007, though, otherwise I'd have speculated that it'd easily be among the best black metal releases of 2008 – even this early in the year. So, overall: Superb. Most recommended.