Genre: Black / Viking Metal
Label: Dark Essence Records
Helheim are one of the pillars of the viking metal scene and they are, both musically and aesthetically, among the darkest of the genre as well. They have paved their own path since their birth in the early nineties and their discography is like a walk through Norwegian heritage, as they have stayed solid for all these years now.
To me, the band has been improving since their debut with each album, marking 2011’s “Heiðindómr ok mótgangr” as my favorite. Then, “raunijaR” arrived in 2015 and it wasn’t fully convincing in terms of content and length, so I was very curious about what would come next, until I saw this new release. “landawarijaR” not only surpasses “Heiðindómr ok mótgangr” but also is connected with the previous record, and suddenly, everything starts to make sense.
Conceptually, they band is meddling with the nature of Nordic runes, suggesting the importance of their true culture in our modern times. As for the music, I think Helheim might be at their peak at the moment and they absolutely deliver with “landawarijaR”. Once again, the production of the album is edgy and cold and it provides quite a healthy sound where all instruments are audible. When I hear nice bass lines in a record, I know it’s going to be something good.
The first two tracks of “landawarijaR” have also become video clips, with “Ymr” settting off in a slow rhythm with characteristic Helheim riffing and some clean vocals along the screams. “Baklengs mot intet” is dimmer, having this haunting horn sound at various moments. It fits perfectly and defines why that track is a standout for me in the album. Most of the album moves in middle pace and the guitar work is remarkable, with many clean parts, solos (check “Ouroboros” and feel free to be impressed) as well as acoustic parts, like in “Synir”. “Synir” also reminded me of Alfahanne in the beginning due to the singing style and the reason is that Pehr Skjoldhammer is doing guest vocals in the song.
The longest piece in the album is the self-titled track and it has some of the most beautiful guitar lines and choral vocals here, managing to keep the listener hooked for almost ten minutes and gives way nicely to “Ouroboros”. I didn’t love the last track “Enda-dagr” any less, which touched some progressive, almost Enslaved-like nuances towards it’s melancholic end. Even if I have a couple of favorites from the album, the truth is all tracks are high level, comprising a very accurate record.
From all of viking metal, it’s the serious bands that actually convey the meaning and the essence of the genre, Helheim definitely being one of them. They’re carrying their music even further with “landawarijaR”, which is astonishing from start to finish, with their personal icy sound and great epic melodies. The album is fifty five minutes long and it has everything you would expect from Helheim, who offer us a very interesting record that will not bore you whatsoever.