Genre: Viking Metal
Country: Norway
Label: Nuclear blast Records
Year: 2020

Just before the end of 2020, that its 11 so far months seems to last forever, probably we have a winner as the rookie of the year. Of course Erlend Hjelvik the mastermind behind Hjelvik, after an 11 year road trip with Kvelertak that ended in 2018, can’t be consider as a newbie, still this is his first effort under his (last) name, so we can talk about a debut (so a rookie) of the year. Hjelvik pays tribute to his heroes of the first and second wave of Black Metal, the Pagan mythology and his Hardcore meets Rock ‘n Roll (recent) past. So simple, so neat and so fuckin irresistible! Venom and Bathory on one hand and on the other one equal drops of high octane Stoner and Rock ‘n Roll in the veins of Corrosion of Conformity, High on Fire and… Kvelertak obviously…Well folks, it is not so easy to match these inanimate elements, but Welcome to Hel is a fine example of how Viking metal in the veins of early Amon Amarth can be mixed with Punk and Black Metal and the final result to be fascinated and not a total fiasco. Welcome To Hel features an impressive recording line up: lead guitarist Rob Steinway (Skelator), rhythm guitarist Remi André Nygård (Inculter), bassist Alexis Lieu (ex-Benighted) and drummer Kevin Foley (ex-Benighted, Abbath). Furthermore Erlend is using his friends’ help -Matt Pike (High On Fire, Sleep) on Glory of  Hel  and Mike Scalzi from Slough Feg on Necromance– creating a small glance of a super group in his project. Don’t let me be misunderstood Hjelvik isn’t a Kvelertak 2.0. But I guess that it is the closest album you will found out there sounding so extreme, blending incongruous genres and elements and accessible at the same time from the masses as Kvelertak delivered in the dawn of the 10’s… There is many similarities Hjelvik’s former band. And I’m not talking only for the guttural vocals. The great solos and the stomping rhythm are still here and the electrifying addictive choruses too. But mostly the stirring and rousing well written songs. Highlights: ‘12th Spell’, ‘The Power Ballad Of Freyr’, ‘Necromance’ (best track of the album), ‘Helgrinda’, ‘North Tsar’ and ‘Father War’.

Please also mark the suitable cover art of Welcome To Hel that was designed by living legend Joe Petagno.

5/6