Einherjer – “North Star” (Napalm Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Returning to Napalm Records after 25 years since releasing their 1995 debut “Dragons Of The North”, Einherjer are definitely one of Norway’s most eclectic bands out there. Across eight prior releases, they’ve incorporated black, folk and even symphonic aspects into their viking metal – not forgetting thrash when founders Frode Glesnes (vocals, guitars, bass) and Gerhard Storesund (drums, keyboards) formed Battered during the band’s hiatus in 2004. However, the passion for all things Norse has remained constant and fierce in this band so whatever the mood, all songs invoke the viking spirit either in calm or through violence, like on the thundering opener of ‘The Blood And The Iron’, with its galloping drums and furious whirring riffola laced by tasteful folk, atop which Glesnes harshly drawls to the background sound of a hammer smelting an anvil before fast Nordic melodies hit home accompanied by wild heavy metal solos – wow! Twanging his bass along to the dramatic viking riffola on ‘Echoes In Blood’, the epic passion cannot be understated here in its depth, and while Glesnes’ vocals remain harsh, it’s impossible not to feel the stirring warrior melodies and heartfelt emotion on this mid-tempo number as the cymbals crash and Storesund’s drums smash like steel meeting steel. Slowing it down to meet the initial somberness on ‘Listen To The Graves’, black melodies snake and coil before the drums start pounding to a rocking riff accompanied by twanging bass and chiming melodies taking you to the melancholic chorus, while the funeral death passage mixing in neo classical solos mid song shows the measure of a band confident to employ the styles and techniques of their past while unafraid, like their pagan ancestors, to employ them for fear of puritanical heresy. It’s all here in this brilliant return to the cultural past and reasons to be fearful indeed…..