Helrunar - Sól review
|Release date:||January 2011|
Disc I [Sól I - Der Dorn Im Nebel]
03. Unter Dem Gletscher
05. Praeludium Eclipsis
06. Tiefer Als Der Tag
07. Nur Fragmente...
08. Ende 1.3
Disc II [Sól II - Zweige Der Erinnerung]
01. Europa Nach Dem Eis
03. Die Mühle
There was once a time when black metal used to give shrugged-off bands a chance to shine and blossom. There was also a time when people were passionate enough to track down new talents instead of overplaying Norway's classics. And frankly, I don't even recall the last time people took a moment to page through the books of time for fresh and worthy bands. Admittedly, Helrunar, whose sound fell on deaf ears, fits the bill, but they have grown unknown and have been slogging across a lea of darkness ever since they came into being in 2001.
Sól (sun in Icelandic) isn't quite such a masterful bit of work but it wouldn't, nonetheless, tremble if put alongside the top albums of recent years. Having settled into a two-piece formation with Alsvartr playing guitars, bass and drums while Skald Draugir was only content to rasp, the band have surprisingly added another solid album to their collection. A typical black metal album which carries on their warmly received Frostnacht and Baldr ok Íss without taking any risks or challenges. Aside from some occasional shredding and frost-bitten creaks, you won't find anything out of the ordinary here, but you won't miss the fundamental ingredients that define pure black metal either. The two CDs follow the same strategy throughout the entire album with both of the openers sticking to being purely ambient (the second has some scattered guitar passages, though) and escorted by Skald's whispering yarning. Once the prologues end the album plummets into cold-stricken atmosphere generated by loitering doom-ish guitars (with sprinklings of shredding and clean leads here and there) and mild, but proficient drumming that slowly piles up with incongruous, sometimes dull rasps. Ironically, the only "instrument" that is not quite fitting with the music is Skald's vocals and even though they are quite enjoyable compared to the creaks and croaks of many black metal vocalists, they are one of the few reasons that take this album down a peg. "Sól" is maybe the highlight of the album, I think it's where the duo reach their peak, both vocally and musically, with great catchy guitar riffing and distant, yet clever drum display. And despite being quite long (92:38), the album has no fillers or dullness stuck to its backbone and keeps you enchanted throughout the entire listening experience.
All in all, this is an album that, while playing it, makes you believe you had heard something very similar to it before. It's very out there with no remarkable effort to give something original to the audience. Nonetheless, the unalloyed magic of pure black metal found here is unlikely to go unnoticeable by the trained ears.
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No Longer Human
No Longer Human
| Carl Berg
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