Valdaudr – “Drapsdalen” (Soulseller Records)
Battle Helm Rating
If your blood lust is still craving original black metal from the days of Darkthrone, Gehenna (Norway) and Dissection, while tantalisingly mixed with an epic pagan twist of Enslaved, then Valdaudr is for you! An amalgamation of the duo’s names of Osvald (vocals) and Daudr (an old Norse twist on Død), who plays guitars and bass, Valdaudr is completed by drummer Rune Nesse (Taake, Orkan), who also handled the mix on this incredible debut. Although a new project, the roots of Valdaudr actually go back to the turn of the century, when Død (Blood Red Throne, ex-Satyricon) formed Cobolt 60 with vocalist Mr Hustler, the original singer in Blood Red Throne. Releasing two albums over the next two decades saw Mr Hustler depart, but with more material for a third album, Vald, Blood Red Throne’s second singer, became Cobolt 60’s new live bassist / vocalist. While it’s reasonable to assume that the material on “Drapsdalen” is rooted in Cobolt 60, Vald’s singing this time is classic black metal screamo, while his clean vocals, the use of Norse folk and epic pagan backing vocals definitely set Valdaudr apart from its roots. Listening to the seven impressive tracks here, I can’t understate my admiration for the composing, as it takes in all the best and crams it into one suave but savage package! Opening with the 6 1/2-minute blast blizzard of ‘Liket Skulle Vaert Brent’, its ferocity is to be awed as much as the catchiness of the massive decadent grooves, while Nesse’s measure also cannot be overlooked in blending his obvious nuclear power with a well thought out percussive mix of drum rolls, cymbal splashes and hammering snare in perfect unison to Vald’s chilling screamo. It’s definitely not a one off either, as ‘Trass og Vrede’ comes shredding in with plenty of fretboard scaling from Død as he piles on the dark melodies while Vald drawls insanely until – yep, you guessed it – another gargantuan sliding groove unleashed from hell itself rams straight into you as Vald sadistically cackles before unloading his coup de grâce air raid siren scream! The pattern is similar on the slower ‘Evig Langt Inn I Tiden’ with even more demented and demonic ranting accompanied by more clanging melodies while Nesse takes his turn in adding plenty of drum breaks before – yep, you guessed it – unloading yet another bass heavy sliding groove inducing instant possession. With the overload too much, suffice to say, it’s safe to conclude that Osvald and Død have created evil in essence on “Drapsdalen”.