This is the completely true and tragic story of how in 1959 a group of nine Soviets traversed into the Ural Mountains in order to reach the peak of Mt. Ortorten. In the harsh cold of -30 degrees Celsius their bodies were found without their skis, shoes, and shirts to be found anywhere in site. Two of the unfortunate hikers had fractured skulls, another two had giant chest fractures, and even one had her tongue missing. After a month’s long investigation, the Soviet investigators simply called the case “a compelling natural force” and closed the case never to be heard of again. And who better to tell the tale than Finnish post doom metallers Kauan?
This 52-minute one song opus is an absolute masterpiece. That sentence is a little misleading because “Sorni Nai” itself is cut up into 7 different tracks even though the album itself is one track, I suppose Kauan just split up the album so people would not be intimidated by a 52-minute long track. Each track tells a key moment of what it must have been like for the hikers on their treacherous journey. The beginning of the trek portrayed by a magnificent array of instruments that twists the mind into feeling like something grand is about to happen whether it be good or bad, and another track begins with an acoustic guitar that tells of the hikers continuing their journey after enduring the hardships of the cold and altitude in previous tracks before the guitars switch to something very heavy that seems to tell of something terrible coming (an avalanche, maybe?) before soon drifting off to the tranquility of a single piano in the midst of nothingness that seems to be the sound of the calm of the disaster that was left after the tragedy. All the while, there are three vocal styles: a flowing feel that is sung by a man who really seems to find the beauty and peace in such a harsh wasteland that is the Ural Mountains’ most extreme environments, a calming woman in the background that serves to amplify the singing man but also managing to send a chill up your spine all the while, and the last being a brutal growl that just has a great sound that tells of the more brutal and tells the tale perfectly of a possible “compelling natural force”. Each flow together in a seamlessly perfect way that I’ve never seen done by another band so well before, and that is just one of the few things that makes “Sorni Nai” a masterpiece.
Kauan have truly made something magnificent. “Sorni Nai” is without a doubt one of the year’s most ambitious and stunning albums, and I’m not saying that because Kauan’s last album “Muistumia” made it onto my Top 25 Albums of 2014 list, but because “Sorni Nai” tops that album in every way imaginable. The album is enormously atmospheric and it uses that to its maximum potential as each track is beautifully elegant and yet can flip in an instant to some wondrously heavy and intense in a way that I’ve never seen Kauan before. “Sorni Nai” tells a tragic tale, but is told in the most epic way. Kauan have truly made the perfect album that they could have with this topic and it has had me glued to my seat even after the entire album playing 4 times back to back. An amazing accomplishment, Kauan have done some majestic.
LISTEN to “Sorni Nai” on Bandcamp here.
BUY “Sorni Nai” via iTunes here.
WATCH the music video for the first 7 minutes of “Sorni Nai” via YouTube below.
LIKE Kauan on Facebook here.