Ereb Altor – “Ulfven” (Hammerheart Records)
With their roots going back to 2003 and the founders also playing in epic Swedish doom metal band Isole, Ereb Altor’s history is a rich one, steeped in the mists of epic viking metal most notably inspired by the legendary Bathory, not to mention other purveyors of warrior metal like (early) Manowar, as well as classical doomsters like Candlemass. Favoring deep n somber melodies amid forlorn atmospherics dexterously woven into Nordic mythology, Ereb Altor’s early offerings were certainly powerful spiritually, if lightweight in their actual metal compared to the furor of their peers like Amon Amarth. “Ulfven” is their 7th full length release and does goes some ways to addressing this, namely to add in more aggression like on the blast beating ‘Wolfcurse’ complete with haunting keyboards and some awesome alternating vocals from clean n soulful to bestial growling! Adding black metal elements on the faster ‘The Rite Of Kraka‘ with some savage riffing and hateful vocals, the contrast couldn’t be greater when some pure heavy metal soloing along with choral backing vocals come into play while title track ‘Ulfven’ takes us right back to the early days of warrior poetic metal with its Norse spoken word and splendid folk melodies. Best track for me though had to be ‘Gleipnir‘, a real mix of the band’s styles from the monster doom waves of Isole to viking harmonies and the faster tempo changes into black metal – with even a wild Slayer style solo to bring it all to climax – wow ha ha! Ending with the serene but no less emotionally powerful ‘Bloodline‘, the might of Ereb Altor’s wisdom and talent is perfectly summed on this definitive release that takes in the new while still acknowledging the old. Why such an amazing band remains relatively obscure is a mystery to me, but I for one, am deeply impressed and honored to have been bestowed by the grace of their wondrous music.