REVIEW: Hiidenhauta – Riivin

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HIIDENHAUTA is a band that could be classified as melodic black metal. If I had to describe “Riivin” – their latest release, which came out in September 2020 via Inverse Records – I would say it is a mixture between the strong noise of thunderstorms with the sweet flavor of a cheesecake. Yeah, it sounds literally cheesy, but truly, this band breaks the mold on how to approach black metal from a more melodic side. By mixing feminine sweet voices with blackened growls while riffs and symphonic arrangements play in the background, the band introduces lyrics about their favored subject: Finnish mythology.

While exploring this album, I had been under the impression that the band was new. That is completely wrong, as they have been active since 2012, with three records and one single under their sleeve. HIIDENHAUTA hail from the shores of Satakunta, Finland, and their sound does a lot of justice to their birthplace, as it crashes like raging sea waves.

The record starts with the song “Riidenlieko,” which immediately brings stamina to the listener with its riffs and mixture of growls and melodic voices. This combination works perfectly well, as all the songs are aggressive in sound, though right in the middle, Emma Keskimäki’s voice appears, adding a sugary touch. Her presence matches the typical feminine Gothic metal voices, but it is also aggressive, shouting at times and transporting the listener to a horror movie where blood and tears pervade. In contrast, Tuomas Keskimäki’s growling voice fights against Emma’s melodious role, using the good old “the beauty and the beast” formula, but still adding their own mythological flavor. The band describes it as a narration about the Devil in Finnish folklore. The Finnish Devil, according to the band, is contradictory: it is cruel and soft-hearted, visible and invisible, manly and feminine, soft and harsh; opposites colliding, which  is felt by the listener in this work.

The record goes on with songs that use this “opposites” formula, while changing the process within each of them. “Petäjä” is one of those surprises, as the feminine voice takes the lead role with a strong change by hardening her essence to an almost eerie feeling, turning her sweetness into acidity. The melody is complemented by the theatrical keyboards in the background, topping up the sorrowful ambience. “Halava,” on the other hand, is a pleasant highlight as Tuomas’ growls create an aggressive ambiance that blends with that cheerful keyboard pump. Another interesting piece is “Ahonoidanlukko,” which is a more folk-like song with arrangements that resemble a rainy setting, followed immediately by a rapid combination of clean and growling vocals. The song later on slows down its pace and then comes back with a forceful growl. This characteristic of going down and up with growling punches makes it one of the most aggressive pieces and is a personal favorite. The last song, “Harmio,” is completely different from the first track, taking the hand (or maybe the ear?) of the listener into a dark void of silence, finishing off with a nostalgic lullaby that fades out in the last seconds.

All-in-all, with its contrasting aggressive and sweet sounds, ”Riivin” is a tasty ear dessert, sour and sugary, similar to that salmiakki chocolate bar that nobody wants to try, but still internally loves and asks for more once they bite it.

Tracklist

  • 1. Riidenlieko
  • 2. Lettorikko
  • 3. Raate
  • 4. Petäjä
  • 5. Leväkkö
  • 6. Halava
  • 7. Yövilkka
  • 8. Ahonoidanlukko
  • 9. Harmio

Lineup

Tuomas Keskimäki – Vocals, Lyrics

Emma Keskimäki – Vocals

Otto Hyvärinen – Guitars

Eetu Ritakorpi – Drums

Henri Hakala – Bass

Label

Inverse Records

Links

Bandcamp

Facebook

Instagram