Norrhem and Sielunvihollinen have a bit of history together. Not only are they both from Finland, Sielunvihollinen mastermind Ruttokieli was part of the live lineup of Norrhem and also contributed some guest guitars and vocals on their ‘Koitos’ album. Vice versa, Norrhem vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Valthor played live for Sielunvihollinen for a while. To honour their allegiance the band not only decided to record songs for a split together, but they also took it one step further: both bands recorded a song in the style of their split counterparts.
Norrhem contributed three songs to the split, of which ‘Aurinko Ja Teräs’ and ‘Huokaavat Kentä’ are songs in their own style. Both songs have plenty of urgency and aggression contained in them, but the typical Folk-like keys and rhythms that so typified their recent albums ‘Koitos’ and ‘Elonkehrä’ remained intact. And the same goes for the catchy melodies that at times border on Heavy Metal riffs, combining with the keys into an epic and melodious whole. While I enjoyed ‘Elonkehrä’, these two tracks even seem like a step up from the latest record in terms of quality and catchiness. ‘Vihollisen Verestä’ distinguishes itself from the other two songs by a more dominating melody, a characteristic for the majority of the Sielunvihollinen material. Norrhem also skillfully maintained the sharp edge to the song, making the parallels with Sielunvihollinen strong, yet keeping enough of their own trademark epic sound. Add a beautiful guitar harmony to it all, and one can only conclude that the song is a great tribute to their split companion that fits seamslessly into their own repertoire as well.
With ‘Tuonen Nuoli’ we find Sielunvihollinen kicking off their side of the split in their typical melodic fashion. A beautiful catchy melody that lies at the centre of the song is alternated with a faster, almost Thrashy guitar riff to balance the precious elaborate melody with the harsher sections and Ruttokieli’s razor-sharp vocals. Also, here we’re served with a great guitar harmony, reminding us how well Norrhem did to write a song in the Sielunvihollinen style. With ’Löi Sodan Viikatteet’, Sielunvihollinen returns the favour and does so convincingly. Compared to their usual material, the melodies are certainly still there and have the same catchy nature but are overall a little bit more restrained. The song is also lengthy by their standards, clocking in at over ten minutes. The folky charcter and Heavy metal riffs hit the right note, but the true highlight is the acoustic section that leads into a gorgeous melody with a Folk background choir. Not only does Sielunvihollinen do well to emulate the sound of Norrhem, but they also steal the show delivering the best song on the split.
With songs in their own style and a song inspired by their counterparts, Norrhem and Sielunvihollinen deliver the best of both worlds. A very successful companionship that comes highly recommended for the followers of the band, and for those that love their Black Metal melodic and catchy.