"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Hennes Siste Host - "Host" (CD)

Hennes Siste Host - "Host" CD cover image

"Host" track listing:

1. Jevndoegnet (3:36)
2. Hoesten (8:30)
3. Jera (10:10)
4. Oktober (6:58)
5. November (8:18)
6. Desember (7:18)
7. Solhvervet (9:38)

Reviewed by on August 10, 2008

"The album shifts gears directly into what can only be described as “black ‘n roll”; a version of black metal that is influenced heavily by the entertaining vibe of good old fashioned rock and roll."

“Host,” the debut album from Norwegian-inspired band Hennes Siste Host, matches the indie cred deserved of their heartfelt devotion to producing music true to the ideals of old school black metal with a highly engaging rock and roll flair that is desperately needed in a mostly stagnant genre. Although the band actually hails from Fargo, North Dakota, no one would be able to tell that from listening to the album, which practically bleeds the style pioneered by the early Norwegian extreme metal scene. “Host” delivers on nearly all fronts, with massively long songs that rarely get boring, screeching black metal vocals, and surprisingly catchy song structures.

In a concession to atmospheric black metal theatrics, the opening track “Jevndøgnet” completely ignores the metal aspects and uses only gloomy piano coupled with hoarse whispers layered on top on one another so that no single line is ever completely understandable. Rather than being superficial or shallow, the song actually successfully produces its intended atmosphere, and is all the more admirable because of how well contained it is, as there simply are no other theatrics or use of piano past this point. Listening to the entire opening track all the way through is like being in a world where the colors are all too bright and all sound but the music has been muted, while watching a funeral procession move slowly by and being unable to stop it. It speaks of the sad inevitability of existence’s demise and awakens an awareness of one’s own mortality.

Once the brooding and contemplative opener has played its last note, the album shifts gears directly into what can only be described as “black ‘n roll”; a version of black metal that is influenced heavily by the entertaining vibe of good old fashioned rock and roll. The production of the album is muddy enough to keep the instruments sounding gently muffled and curiously far away, and the vocals are completely incomprehensible without opening up the lyric insert, but still just barely clear enough to avoid having to actively work through a wall of sound to get to the heart of the music. Vocalist Zander’s growling is a bloody, vocal cord shredding rasp that fits the murky black metal style perfectly. There is some minor variation in the sound of the growls, but the less than perfect production and incomprehensibility of the lyrics create some unfortunate repetition that could have been counterbalanced with a little use of a few lower death growls or some extra clean vocals every now and again. In addition to vocal duties, Zander also takes on the bass, which follows the guitar very closely in nearly every song. The fact that this is a black metal album where the bass can actually be heard is an amazing feat all on its own, so its similarity to the guitar playing can be officially overlooked.

The lyrical subject matter in “Host” frequently deal with sexual innuendo and killing an unnamed woman. The titles of the songs and general flow of the lyrics suggest that the words shouldn’t be taken at face value however, but rather should be considered metaphors for the movement of seasons and plight of the Earth in the face of catastrophe. The band’s name, which translated to English means “Her Final Autumn,” lends some credence to this sort of interpretation of the lyrics. There are a few instances where the lyrics are left behind in favor of short lone growls that aren’t actually words but rather channel a specific emotion or overall aggression that couldn’t be properly expressed with language.

Championing underground American black metal, Hennes Siste Host has crafted a musical experiment that should be on any fan of the genre’s short list.

Highs: Entertaining Rock and Roll vibe wrapped in an old school black metal shell

Lows: Vocals get repetitive

Bottom line: Underground American black metal that should be on the short list of any fan of the genre.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)