Heidevolk - Vuur Van Verzet review



Reviewer:
7.7

46 users:
6.96
Band: Heidevolk
Album: Vuur Van Verzet
Release date: January 2018


01. Ontwaakt
02. A Wolf In My Heart
03. Onverzetbaar
04. Yngwaz Zonen
05. Britannia
06. The Alliance
07. Tiwaz
08. Het Oneindige Woud
09. Gungnir
10. Woedend
11. Het Juk Der Tijd
12. Drink Op De Nacht [bonus]
13. Een Wolf In Mijn Hart [bonus]


I had Heidevolk on a downward slide when I reviewed Velua in 2015, and the lineup changes that preceded the album only continued in its aftermath; Vuur Van Verzet debuts a new guitarist and is the third album in a row to feature a different vocal team from its predecessor. Given the sudden shift in personnel, overall decline in quality, and the rather lackluster single "Ontwaakt," it seemed that Heidevolk was going to sputter out of existence. Against all odds, Vuur Van Verzet is a sound success for Heidevolk.

Heidevolk have always been known first and foremost for their unique lead vocals, a duet of high and low cleans belted out by two bearded, broad-shouldered Saxonoids who pretty much look the part. Vuur Van Verzet threatens that trademark twofold, firstly with messy production that pushes the vocals back and allows the guitars to dominate. The weakened vocal presence dials down the energy Heidevolk can bring to each song and only exacerbates the second main hurdle this album faces: the vocal performances aren't as strong as on past albums. It sounds to me that Jacco de Wijs doesn't have the power or confidence that Mark Splintervuyscht brought, or perhaps simply doesn't fit the aesthetic of Heidevolk as well; as a result, the higher-pitched vocals have been marginalized. The layered vocals lean heavily on the deeper end, and Vuur Van Verzet features more actual "lead" vocals, accordingly from Lars Nachtbraecker, evident on tracks like "A Wolf In My Heart" and "Yngwaz Zonen." When the high vocals do come through, they are more layered than usual and evoke a choral sensation rather than something battle-hardened.

Heidevolk has to engage with the fact that its strengths are changing, and as a result, the members put their backs into the songwriting, which I've always felt was secondary to the band's overall sound. Although there weren't many real options, "Ontwaakt" was a poor choice of single - it's mid-paced, somber, and not especially flashy - and overall the first several songs sound bromidic and thin, so Vuur Van Verzet does not begin auspiciously. The vocal piece "Yngwaz Zonen" finally breaks the uncertain pall with a well-executed change of pace, and once "Britannia" rips open the album for real, it feels as though Heidevolk has finally come back into competition. On "Britannia," we hear the guitars proudly accept the challenge of pulling more weight than they have had to in the past, and when the six-minute epic "The Alliance" appears to complete the combo, the vocals feel more settled and the songwriting has gained the strength to compensate for their failings. Acoustic guitars and other strings, as well as some tastefully haggard shouts, give "The Alliance" a sense of scale and turn it into a powerful centerpiece for the album.

These two tracks, "Britannia" and "The Alliance," differ so from the typical Heidevolk formula that by the end I feel that I've witnessed real evolution, and with this kind of bedraggled, heroic folk, Heidevolk reaches the darker, more serious tone that the watered-down melodeath cribbing on Velua and Batavi could not quite achieve. "Tiwaz" is much more recognizable as belonging to this band, but with the fast pace and conviction that the first few tracks so sorely lacked. "Het Oneindige Woud" follows with a lovely acoustic instrumental, the type of folk indulgence that cannot be argued with; as happened earlier in the album, the soft piece sets up the crushing "Gungnir" all too well. By the time the album hits that last trio of songs, I feel safely accustomed to the new sound Heidevolk is hawking and can enjoy some genuinely strong, if slightly newfangled, songwriting.

After blasting Uit Oude Grond and revisiting Velua, it's hard not to come to Vuur Van Verzet and find it lacking in presence. The sound quality remains a bugbear for Vuur Van Verzet; the vocals and guitars alike, though they do struggle admirably, simply sound tired in comparison to the days of Walhalla Wacht. Nonetheless, I do think that Heidevolk is already coming to terms with its changes. The first part of the album seeks to provide the Heidevolk that fans will want to hear, but this band can only provide a shadow of that old sound. As the album progresses, it evolves into an image of what Heidevolk is now and plays to its strengths much more effectively. If I am correct in my assessment, the next Heidevolk album may be even stronger yet.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 6


 



Written on 11.01.2018 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments

Comments: 3   Visited by: 114 users
11.01.2018 - 10:46
Pitwulf93
Nice review. I hope these guys find their stride again. I too wasn't convinced by Velua although I did like Batavi. Ontwaakt really is a bore and A Wolf In My Heart was only slightly better. Curious about the rest of the album in any case!
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11.01.2018 - 17:46
Bad English
Masterchief
Somehow according new song , I didn't like this one so much as older ones, its more agresive, less folky sound as it must be
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11.01.2018 - 22:15
Magere Tijn
Considering Heidevolk has basically become a really good Heidevolk coverband, I hope this review is correct and they're finding their way aagain. Velua was pretty boring.
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