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On a Snowy Winter Night (1992)

My introduction to this band came in the form of a tape passed to me by a friend in Stockholm, which featured four different demos. On one side was Horna's Varjoissa and Carpathian Curse from Belthan, and the other side was comprised of At the Mountains of Northern Storms by Throne of Ahaz and Azhubham Haani's 1992 demo On a Snowy Winternight. In all honesty, the name of the project put me off a bit, noticing its non-European origin (some Sanskrit words intended to mean 'Evil Destruction'). After digging the tape out of a box, a few years later, I gave it a chance anyway.

Quite different from the other releases on the cassette, On a Snowy Winternight is much more lo-fi and primitive. The low quality of the production really adds to the gloomy and obscure feeling that this material possesses. The songwriting on this rather short demo is very basic and simplistic, with a lot of sloppy power chords reminiscent of the old Countess material. It is not one-dimensional, though, as the first half of "Where Death Reared Itself a Throne" consists of only a mournful clean guitar and miserable vocals, before the rest of the instruments come in and the song builds a somewhat epic feeling. This track, in particular, feels a little ahead of its time. Here and there, the typical northern tremolo riffs weave their way into the songs, but are never really the prime component. As for the drumming, it is fairly minimalist, keeping time in the background, as it should be. The dark atmosphere of this recording is also accentuated by the periodic clean voice that haunts from a distance. This is rather fitting, as the project itself is rather mysterious, with the band recording a handful of tapes in 1992 and then vanishing into the nocturnal fog.

On a Snowy Winternight is a rather interesting release. Azhubham Haani certainly did not share a lot in common with the other black metal projects that were emerging from Sweden at the time. The closest comparison might be with the early recordings of Abruptum, but even that is kind of tenuous at best. Despite the sometimes poor musicianship, this material possesses a genuine feeling and is definitely worth seeking out.
(8 Aug. 2015)

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