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)