The Finnish Black Metal juggernaut known to the world as Horna, originally known as Shadowed, was begun in late 1993. The name was changed to Horna in 1994, and the first demo recording, entitled Varjoissa, was released in 1995. Since then, 15 official full-length albums and EPs have been released on various labels, and several European tours embarked upon. Having almost as many ex-members as official releases, which is no small feat for a band as productive as Horna, founding member and guitarist/vocalist Shatraug took some time to explain the band’s decision to lay waste to our fair City of Salt on November 4th.
SLUG: Hails from Salt Lake City, Shatraug. Why the decision to do a full U.S. tour? What prompted a stop in Salt Lake City, Utah…one of the most religiously oppressed cities in the States?
Shatraug: Hails! I think we've been planning to do this ever since I first got in touch with Moribund Records for licenses and co-operation in the United States, so it's finally good to get something done! You know, we've toured Europe three times so far and made numerous appearances doing single shows and small weekend trips, so there are still some parts of the world left to conquer. Salt Lake City is as good place as any to preach, as it's a place where even demons would not wish to live! Probably the reason why it's so full of Mormons...
SLUG: Is it important to you to have Horna play live, and to play in other countries besides your native Finland? Are there any specific reasons behind the band's motivation to do so?
Shatraug: Yeah, we are totally a live band. When we record it never captures the feeling we have on stage when you hear the worship out loud. To be honest, it's more interesting to play outside Finland. We've lived there our entire lives, and we know all the places and the crowds. Being somewhere unusual and bearing witness to the hordes that come to praise, that's a feeling which can't be replaced. That's as good a reason as there can be.
SLUG: What do you find to be more important for Horna: playing live or recording and releasing your material in that way?
Shatraug: Well, these things pretty much go hand in hand. Without recording, people would not know what to expect live and therefore couldn't participate in the mass effectively. Both ways of worship are important to us, and we would not stop with either as long as the band is alive.
SLUG: What should people in Salt Lake City be prepared for from Horna's live show?
Shatraug: Pure black energy, blood, fire and death. We will come, slay with uncompromising attitude, and show that we are not some typical touring band who play the same shit night after night. One of the clicks of Horna shows is that you never experience the same set list on tours––we live in the now, and each set list is written the same night we perform.
SLUG: Horna is one of the most prolific Black Metal bands in the scene…I can count over 30 documented releases in the past 14 years, with another full length on the way this year. What are your inspirations for recording and releasing such a monstrous amount of music under the Horna moniker, not to mention the other projects you have a hand in, such as Sargeist?
Shatraug: It’s all just me being creative. I guess it might sound strange to hear that there are sometimes weeks or even months when I don't write anything for any project. Then again, there are days when I do nothing but compose, write and jot down ideas. I believe that inspiration can't be forced to exist, but it can be given a little push if needed. With Horna we have never done any pushing, everything comes when it does.
SLUG: What are Horna's main inspirations, and do you still feel the same intensity to make music as you did when you first started?
Shatraug: I am still inspired by all the darkness in life and beyond…all the mysteries that keep fascinating me…finding answers in the dust of time. To unlock the element of inspiration, one can take anything...one single word at a certain point in time, or one view from the car window, or some book you just read... inspiration comes in all sizes and forms.
SLUG: What subjects does Horna focus on in terms of lyrics and songwriting?
Shatraug: All the lyrics in the last years have been about satanic worship, spells, occult studies and occult phenomena. I don't think the theme around songwriting itself is any different.
SLUG: What are your personal opinions on the current state of black metal? Do you see it as having become something trendy, or are you able to see bands like Horna as being on the opposite side of the coin…anti-trend, so to speak?
Shatraug: There are definitely far too many bands around who got into black metal through the prevailing trend, and I can only hope that some of them realize what they are doing. Here in Finland, the general opinion seems to be that black metal is sort of teenage music, which is quite far from the truth, even though all the seeds of your spiritual growth and awareness are sown during those times in life, if not earlier. Black metal is a serious form of worship and art for those who practice it and should not be held in any other position. There are, and always will be, bands who are devoted to the crime of dark arts, and in growing numbers there will apparently always be those "musically" inspired people who are afraid of what real black metal is.
SLUG: Horna has had several members come and go during the band's existence…do you feel like your current lineup is the strongest and most solid you've had to date?
Shatraug: At the moment this line-up seems to be quite good. Everything is working well and there are no personal grudges or lack of inspiration. In the past the big problem was having members who didn't involve themselves whole-heartedly in the song writing or even in being in the band, taking care of their role in it. The line-up we have now is the best working one I've had and only time shall tell how it turns out to be.
SLUG: Since the odds are pretty good that many people who read this interview may be unfamiliar with Horna, how would you best describe the band, and what, if any, releases would you recommend people to track down in order to get a fairly comprehensive idea about your music?
Shatraug: Horna perform black metal with dedication and emotion, ranging from the sinister cold rawness of sound to memorable melodic hooks, always keeping it more simple than complex. For good examples I would recommend the split with Behexen and the Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne album, along with the new one which is just around the corner.
Although this interview was conducted via e-mail, it’s plain to see that Shatraug and Horna are not fucking around like so many “Johnny-come-lately” wannabe black metal bands. Put your horns up, and check out Horna at Club Vegas on Tuesday, November 4th.