Vithr
Hedensk Skikk Og Tro

It’s not often these days that a brand-spankin’ new black metal band comes out of the woodwork and does the genre of music properly. Usually the young “kvlt” tikes latch onto the typical Dark Throne/Dark Funeral/Burzum/early Emperor coloring book and fail miserably. The general reasons for said failures is because the kids just don’t know how to write memorable vintage Norwegian black metal with either originality or, if they’re going down the tried and true route of familiarity, a unique energy that doesn’t come across as stale or redundant.

Thankfully for fans of black metal there’s a group of young dudes from Bergen, Norway, who call themselves Vithr (‘Viðr’, meaning “tree” in ancient Norwegian). Clearly they have taken their time to hone their skills and have created a debut album that is as strong as it is unoriginal. Peppering their take on vintage black metal with all sorts of spices from around the globe, Hedensk Skikk Og Tro is a refreshing take on what has long been a stagnant, vapid genre of metal.

Though the music found within the album is far from groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination, Hedensk Skikk Og Tro hits all the marks of what makes a BM record a stellar one. They switch gears between blistering speed similar to 1349 and slower, atmospheric heaviness like Immortal, Emperor (at times), etc. On top of the traditional culmination of everything BM, Vithr embolden their songs with an underlying belly of punk and rock & roll, which gives the band a sizable edge over the rest of their contemporaries.

The album shares its name with Vithr’s five-song demo from two years ago and four of those passages have been recreated for the full-length. While there isn’t a weak link in the bunch, the standout songs are clearly the title track and “Trolldom”, each sporting a flavor mixture of BM and punk. On top of creating memorable songs with actual structure and catchiness, the overall production of Hedensk Skikk Og Tro is spot-on for what a proper black metal album should sound like. The guitars retain their raw, unbridled chilliness and the drums have a much more robust sound compared to far too many others within this genre. The vocals aren’t anything otherworldly, but they have that classic harsh raspiness that fits so well with this style of metal.

In all, Hedensk Skikk Og Tro is a terrific debut album from a band just entering a genre of music that has been over saturated since the late 1990’s. Thankfully Vithr knows how to create songs that can stand out on their own feet without tripping over themselves. If these guys can keep the momentum from this album well into the next decade, there’s no telling how far they’ll go. Clearly a young band to look out for, Vithr is.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mike Sloan
May 17th, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: Odovacar

    I’m always in the mood for some good black metal, this sounds like something I’ll have to check out. I also dig the cover.


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