Heltekvad
Morgenrødens Helvedesherre

I snagged the debut from Denmark’s Heltekvad due to a trio of things; it features Ole Pedersen Luk of Afsky. Second, Eisenwald is pretty reliable when it comes to black metal with the likes of Fluisteraars and Alda on their roster. And third, the heraldic artwork reminded me of medieval black metal bands like France’s Véhémence and Russia’s  Passéisme. And that is exactly what I got with Morgenrødens Helvedesherre  (the hell lord of dawn?).

Shrill, melodic black metal with plenty of medieval atmospheres is the order of the day, with the above 2 bands as reference points as well the likes of Abduction, Eisenkult, and labelmates Ungfell. The riffs have that tangible ‘medieval’ feel with an often triumphant gait and there are enough flutey and crumhorn interludes to remind you of the subject matter, though it never veers into ‘hey nonny nonny’ Jaldaboath/Black Adder territory as the underlying black metal is far more brittle and militant. And with Afsky’s Ole Pedersen Luk involved, there’s some unhinged despondency involved as well, especially vocally.

With a harsher, starker take on medieval black metal, fitting the era’s grimy, grim way of life, Morgenrødens Helvedesherre is a brisk 35-minute affair. That said it takes a track to take off into recognizably medieval realms, as the opener “Morgenrødens åbenbaring”, is a straight forward despondent black metal number. It’s not until “Ærbødig er den som sejrer” we get something palpably medieval in texture and atmosphere. And it’s a right corker of a track.

Many of the riffs and throbbing bass give off an early Ulver -ish hue, such as “Ved sværdets klinge skal du forgå”, the ferociously haughty canter of “Eder og Hæder” or more depressive “Fornægter din æt”. I wish the band had used a little more atmospheric/medieval stylings such as the aforementioned “Ærbødig er den som sejrer” or triumphant trumpets that start “Du skæbnesvangre stund”, which a great melodic bridge about 3 minutes in. That said they avoid some of the genre tropes like gregorian choirs and such, keeping things pretty spiteful overall.

“Døden står ved himmelens port” rounds out the album with a killer, melodically searing, but despondent tremolo blast and as the clarion of battle fades out the track, ensures that Morgenrødens Helvedesherre, while not quite up there with Véhémence’s Ordalies, is still a damn fine album in its own right from a promising new black metal band.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 12th, 2022

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