Vorna – “Ei Valo Minua Seuraa” (Inverse Records)
It happened one drunken night in 2008, when Vesa (vocals) first met guitarists Arttu and Henri (childhood friends who had already been jamming together for a little while) and not soon after Vorna, named after a character from the Finnish/Karelian folklore, was born. Releasing demos over the next few years, the band grew to include Niilo Könönen (bass), Saku Myyryläinen (keys) and Mikael Vanninen (drums), finally releasing their debut “Ajastaika” in 2013 which certainly turned a few heads! Although described by many as pagan orchestral metal I wouldn’t put Vorna in the classical league despite the sound of dark cellos and somber horns, but rather they add to the powerful atmosphere of the band’s compositions that richly mix black metal with folk influences and Finnish lyrics. There’s a hugely melancholic element throughout carried by all elements from the guitar work, which superbly balances aggressive riffing with beautiful acoustic work. Myyryläinen’s synth work, for the most part remains consistently melodic rather than bombastic, adding even more emotion to the moving passages of the seven tracks making up this quality sophomore. Vesa’s own vocals are possibly the least blended, mixing clean but in the main being uncompromisingly black screamo, although he shows splendid measure in restraining them a tad to almost rasping so the lyrics can actually be heard – when was the last time you heard that in black metal?! Adding in big choirs to the somberness of songs like ‘Sieluni varjossa (In the Nightside of Self)’, ‘Hiljaiset rauniot (Silent Ruins)’ and ‘Vaipunut (Of Life Descended)’ this sextet have done a fine job in musically measuring up to the album’s title of “Ei valo minua seuraa (No Light Follows Me)” – not to mention the despondent album cover. Despite their depressive tone though, the class of the songs and the high standard of the musicianship lends to a powerfully uplifting mental and spiritual journey on this highly classy release filled with maturity and profoundness.