Helheim – Heiðindómr ok mótgangr [2011]

Band: Helheim
Album: Heiðindómr ok mótgangr
Release year: 2011
Genre: Black Metal/Viking Metal

Helheim, named after the world in Norse mythology, are one of Norway’s oldest and most revered Viking Black Metal bands. “Heiðindómr ok mótgangr”  is the follow up to their mini album “Asgard’s Fall” which was released last year. “Heiðindómr ok mótgangr” has been described as their most grand, epic and monumental release to date so far. It is also the first Helheim album since 1999 to feature only Norwegian lyrics.

The album begins with the slow and brutalising guitar intro of “Viten Og Mot (Sindighet)”, which is mixed in with some French horn, making for a dramatic yet violent introductory track. The guitar riff that follows is lighter but more fast paced. The drums are also fast paced but are weak compared to the vocals. In some sections, the French horn overpowers the guitars which is disappointing. The vocals, however, are just as they are expected to be – Aggressive, bloodthirsty and grim. The use of a guitar solo does slightly improve the track, though not by much. The other major issue with this track is that it’s too long and repetitive for the most part. The use of clean vocals is surprising though it doesn’t do much for the track. It is not a great start for the album.

”Dualitet Og Ulver” comes next, beginning with an acoustic guitar section which is soon replaced by a violent, window-breaking guitar section accompanied by drums. The vocals are still aggressive and sounding more powerful than the previous track. The drum sections seem to have improved a fair bit as well, though they are still overpowered by the guitars and vocals in some sections. This track is a vast improvement from the previous one. “Viten Og Mot (Stolthet)” begins with a similar intro to “Viten Og Mot (Sindighet)”. The vocals are a mixture of grim, narrated styled vocals and raw, aggressive black metal screams which isn’t a great combination. The French horn makes its return on this track, bringing a doomsday atmosphere with it. Musically, this is a great track, though, vocally it leaves much to be desired.

”Maðr” begins with an intro similar to the riffs found on Helheim’s first album. The vocals sound barbaric, angry and fierce, contrasting well with the murderous and savage riffs. The drum sections sound more beastly and heavy as well. There is a slow, soft riff half way through the track which combines the use of clean vocals and grim screams, making for a perfect break between the onslaught of the guitars and drums. The next track is “Viten Og Mot (Årvåkenhet)”. Like the previous track, it begins with an old skool Helheim-styled riff topped off the demonic screaming. The drums are more vehemently played whilst the guitars have more bite. There is also a calm riff about halfway through, adding some diversity to the track. The grim and ghastly narration reappears on this track, followed by some shouting, which certainly adds a new sound to the album.

“Element” begins with a very soft and slightly melodic intro. There is a use of strained, clean vocals which ruins the track slightly. The track gradually becomes heavy, improving it vastly. However, it is one of the poorer tracks of the album. “Nauðr” follows after, beginning with a melodic yet destructive intro. The guitars and drums are fast paced, in a traditional black metal way, whilst the vocals are full of aggression and violence, as is to be expected. The rest of the track, however, is mediocre.

Nearing the end of the album, comes “Viten Og Mot (Bevissthet)”. Straight away, the heavy brutality bombards its way along with a beastly guitar section and terrifying vocals. The drums are very acute and on time, though lacking in power. There is a lighter section which takes away a lot from the track. Though when the heaviness returns to the track, it sounds so much better again. The dramatic sound of the French horn can be heard towards the end, making the track slightly more enjoyable. The final track of the album is “Helheim 8”, which begins with an acoustic intro. The French horn makes itself heard on this track as well, combined with folk-styled clean vocals. “Helheim 8” is certainly an interesting end to the album.

”Heiðindómr ok mótgangr” has its good points and its bad points and they seem to even out an awful lot. The album combined the best of Helheim’s roots with a newer sound. The combination of the two differing sounds has potential once Helheim work out how to combine the two without ruining the quality of the music too much. All in all, it is an above average album which has room for improvement.

3.5/5

Nico Davidson

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