Baldr ok Iss

Helrunar has quickly jumped to the top of the heap of Norwegian wave black metal imitators. This German band has only a six year recording history but obviously a much longer history as a fan of real black metal. Baldr ok Iss is their third full length release, and second by Lupus Lounge. In terms of bands with three discs to their credit, and sustained quality over the course of those three albums, bands like Cirith Gorgor, Averse Sefira and 1349 come to mind and Helrunar have now earned the right to be mentioned in the same breath.

This album once again breaks no new ground, but instead works on perfecting their delivery. I think the break new ground idea is overrated anyhow. Some styles are too good to be forgotten and new blood is needed to carry on. There are only so many times a month I’m going to pull out Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism. Once again we get powerful aggressive music that is not harsh or grating in an atonal sense, with thunderous drums and great melodic phrases. The heavy dose of acoustic guitar, clean vocals, whispered/chanted vocals and heathen imagery contribute mightily to the music. Once again excellent pacing and frequent tempo changes add a dynamic element not experienced in your bargain basement black metal. One image that keeps creeping into my head as I play this disc is the saga storyteller in front of a roaring fire in a crowded house in midwinter, especially reinforced during “Baldrs Draumar.” Skald Draugir is an excellent storyteller and is becoming a favorite vocalist as well. Once again lyrics are in German and Norwegian. Favorite songs include “Baldr” and “Til Jarðar” though once again the entire album is strong.

Of all the albums coming out this year, this one was one I thought would be good enough for a top ten slot, and now that it has been heard a top five spot is assured. Be on the lookout for the limited edition digipack that comes bundled with a dvd featuring a live set and a thirty-minute interview.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
December 2nd, 2007


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