My experience of Finnish outfit Vorna has been limited to one release in 2013, “Ajastaika”, which I reviewed here back in 2013 and was mightily impressed. For some reason the bands second album passed me by but I will definitely go back for it as this third release is stupendous. The opening intro piece, “Ylle kaartuvat”, really sets the scene for this expansive album as “Toinen” follows with a scything riff and backing symphonics. The pace is sent into double kick realms as the catchiness, that is inherent to this album, manifests through that drum work but also the ornate keyboard embellishments.

“Sydäntalven puut” begins with bleakness and an austere riff with keyboard before the drums fill out the mix in true pagan style. The harsh vocal attributes work to enhance the more black metal aspects of the song writing as the track shifts into an eloquent piece that sweeps you along. There is a blackness to the opening riff on “Maa martona makaa” tempered by the keyboard work as the song amplifies in power effortlessly with a symphonic backdrop producing sublime atmosphere. The isolation of the guitar with vocals is very effective as the pace reduces to reveal a more bleak approach that I found thoroughly absorbing.

The massive and epic “Aalloista” is just gorgeous, starting with mournfulness on guitar the song is grief stricken as wonderful clean vocals ensue that are captivating, dextrously delivered before morphing to the harsh style. The guitar hook that is situated on the mix embeds into your mind being tuneful and brandishing empowering emotion as the clean vocals return for a calming mid-section. Symphonics initiate “Virvatulet” before the escalation in power with the blackened tendencies and drum work. Even here the song is tempered by fine hooks, something this band does so well and hints at Amorphis in some respects as more clean vocals are displayed brilliantly.

The second half of this album is some of the best music I’ve heard this year with each song harnessing pagan finesse with unmitigated seething blackened force, but it is the sublime guitar work that really gets your attention on the awesome “Sateet” with acoustic playing and charismatic clean vocals as the melody is potent and narcotic. The escalation in speed is tremendously effective too as the drenching double bass inundates unleashing a song that is stratospherically absorbing.

There will be few albums you’ll hear this year as mesmerising and enchanting as this, the beauteous song writing has produced an opus of dazzling magnificence.

(9/10 Martin Harris)