Helheim – Heiðindómr Ok Mótgangr

Although never having achieved the same degree of popularity, Helheim may be best compared to Enslaved, not only in terms of their Viking ancestry and topical content, but also in regards to the way they have developed over the years. Originating as a fairly run-of-the- mill Viking black metal act, they have moved in an increasingly progressive direction with their sound. ‘Heiðindómr Ok Mótgangr’ represents another step in their career; a cleanly produced, diverse and impressive celebration of their culture.

Like Enslaved, Helheim focus their efforts on creating a vast, epic sound that attempts to capture the sound and custom of the Viking people. In this regard, Helheim are dedicated, and convey the pride of their ancestry powerfully. The album opens up with a combination of black metal canon and war horn orchestration, a pairing that pops up several times throughout the album. Arguably the greatest strength that ‘Heiðindómr Ok Mótgangr’ has going for it is that it takes the listener through a number of different moods and angles without sounding inconsistent or patchy. Based on much of my experience with this style, Viking bands tend to keep their songwriting narrow, composing a batch of incredibly similar pieces and drilling down one angle or mood of Viking culture until it’s exhausted and begging for a coffee break. Most of the time, this ‘angle’ tends to revolve around the culture’s penchant for warfare and alcohol consumption. I would not say that Helheim gives an all- encompassing glance into the culture- there’s no reference here to the 793 AD equivalent to changing baby diapers- but the darker sound on the album is more successful at transporting a listener to what was decidedly an incredibly dark time in human history.

Helheim’s production has developed with their musical style, and though black metal generally favours less bells and whistles in its production, ‘Heiðindómr Ok Mótgangr’ is remarkably refined. In terms of effectiveness, this is a bit of a double edged sword. The production does wonders for the more subtle arrangements such as the horn work and moments where Helheim go experimental with their sound, but the black metal feels robbed of some of its atmosphere. This does not draw away from the intensity of the music, however; the riffs are beautifully arranged and performed with vigour. Although the music on ‘Heiðindómr Ok Mótgangr’ rarely possesses the sort of composition quality that would thrust it into the realm of excellence, Helheim’s varied approach to Viking metal stands out above many of their peers. There is anger, melancholy, darkness and light to soak up on ‘Heiðindómr Ok Mótgangr’, and the variety of styles only serves to give the work greater lasting value.

Tracklist:

1. Viten og mot (sindighet) (7:37)
2. Dualitet og ulver (5:57)
3. Viten og mot (stolthet) (6:16)
4. Maðr (5:51)
5. Viten og mot (årvåkenhet) (6:55)
6. Element (6:40)
7. Nauðr (4:01)
8. Viten og mot (bevissthet) (5:09)
9. Helheim 8 (4:37)

Line-up:

* H’grimnir – Vocals, Guitar
* Noralf “Reichborn” Venås – Guitar
* Ørjan “V’gandr” Nordvik – Bass, Vocals
* Frode “Hrymr” Rødsjø – Drums, Programming

Links:

http://www.helheim.com/

1 Comment

  1. Head Ov Metal

    April 25, 2012 at 8:02 am

    I love this album!
    The timpani and french horn add a nice touch.
    They are amazing live in concert!

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