Author: Craig Matthews
Prepare yourselves warriors, today we are going to hell. Or rather more specifically HELHEIM, these Viking Metal pioneers are back with their ninth full length album “LandwarijaR”. This latest project, like the rest of HELHEIM’S work explores the darker side of Norse Mythology, we love Norse Mythology here at Metalphobia. So naturally we dived straight in with high expectations.
Woah… it’s fair to say I have been left almost speechless by HELHEIM, I’m confessing that despite the fact they have been on the go since 1992, this is the first time I’d heard them. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t this. HELHEIM have managed to create a very dark and hauntingly beautiful sound fitting for the land of the dead. One of the first things that stands out to me is their use of duelling vocals, this is a stumbling block for a lot of bands that try this technique and fail with the mixing. HELHEIM have perfected it and the contrast between clean vocals and menacing growls adds to the eerie atmosphere.
“Baklengs Mot Intet” is one of the first stand out tracks for me, it has a dynamic structure with a varied tempo swapping between slow mournful pieces and frantic guitar riffs, there’s even a nice solo buried in there and those excellent vocals just finish the whole lot off. The whole thing works to create a sense of urgency to the music, it sets you on edge and gets you pumped up for the rest of the chaos.
One of the great things about this album for me is its progressive sound. As the album is going on the band are getting more and more experimental with their music. They use some masterful guitar work as well as subtle synthesisers and programming to give their songs a mysterious and unearthly atmosphere without going over the top.
I’ve got to give a worthy mention to the title track “LandwarijaR”, this near ten minute long epic is a showcase of exactly how creative HELHEIM can be, they seamlessly change from aggressive Black Metal to mournful Symphonic Metal and they manage that without sounding chaotic or choppy. The guitar work from Hgrimnir and Noralf is glorious and the whole thing just has a hypnotic and immersive quality to it, it may be near ten minutes long but there’s so much to take in it feels half as long.
HELHEIM have really made something great here, in a time where progressive music can mean just about anything they have managed to carefully hone a sound that’s different but not too different that its unrecognisable to most fans. Their overall sound is sharp and gives the listener chance to get fully immersed in their tales of the Old Norse ways. I’ve struggled to really find anything negative about this record and believe me I’ve tried. I don’t throw this word around easily, but this is a masterpiece of Viking Metal.
2.Baklengs Mot Intet
6.Synir Af Heidindomr
7.Enda – dagr
Hrymr – Drums & programming
Vgandr – Bass & vocals
Hgrimnir – Rhythm guitar & vocals
Noralf – Rhythm & lead guitar