Helheim – Landawarijar (Dark Essence / Karisma Records 2017)

This is my first introduction to Heilheims studio work, I’ve seen them live a few times. I met the guys several times and hung out at the record shop owned and operated by V’gandr before it went out of business. He turned me on to a lot of cool old bands I’d never heard of, it’s a shame it went out of business.

Landawrijar is in style similar to the better known viking metalers in Enslaved, which I absolute love. My reason for checking out Landawrijar was a recommendation by a fellow Enslaved fan. Just as with Enslaved I find this music soothing in a weird sort of way. Helheim has solid foot in the black metal camp, but the varied vocals let them go further then black metal usually does. Lyrically this has the Viking vibe that I’ve always associated with the band, the Norwegian lyrics are somewhat on the predictable / clichéd side of the fence, but they work great. I’ve no idea how these words sound to the rest of the world, but as a native speaker of the language, I’m impressed by the diction and how easy it is to understand what he is singing.

Like a lot of other extreme metal acts, Helheim is quite progressive. They combine harsh, fast headbanging music, with melodic interludes, clean vocals and super heavy grooves. Rista Blodørn is a feast for the ears, it combines classic black metal, with an almost industrial sounding, pounding rhythm, before it brakes down to half tempo and a beautiful, yet haunting, melodic guitar interlude ensues. The song then grips again when the full band returns and builds the tune back to a furious anger.

The title track is another amazing composition; quite complex and shifting between thrashing intensity and morbid beauty. The guitar work is mind-blowing on this track. It might be a bit lot and could have been trimmed just little, but it doesn’t seem repetitive at all. Enda-dagr is an apocalyptic song, and thus is well fitting as an album closer.

I find it hard to find the words to do the music justice. The landscape is dark and bleak, like classic Immortal, the vocals is at some points reminiscent of early days Dimmu Borgir, with a kind of Now Diabolical / Volcano –era Satyricon twist, at other points nice and melodic, yet others are raw and punky; quite a show of impressive vocal skill. The guitar work is not always impressive, but it’s never boring. Sometimes less is more. I haven’t really noticed neither the bass nor the drums.

As with most of the releases by Dark Essence / Karisma Records the sound is cold and crisp and … I’ll say complex, in lack of a better term. It’s nice, let’s just keep it at that.

The album works great as a unit, I recommend to listen to all the tracks in sequence. If you have to choose, I’d pick Rista Blodørn or Enda-Dagr  or both.

Rating 4/5


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