Helrunar - Niederkunfft (Lupus Lounge)

Germanic black metal...
Release Date: 
16 Mar 2015 - 12:30am

The duo of Skald Draugir and Alsvatr (the duo which make up Helrunar) explore the threshold between the Middle Ages and modern times. Apparently. There's a nod to their black metal roots but they appear to be taking a bit of a dip into a more thrashy vibe with Niederkunfft; the album opener and title track kicks off with an obligatory picked intro which is shortly replaced with the meaty riff. There's no denying its vehemence - and there's a growling vocal that skates along with the slow riff and piercing haunting melody; kind of like Slayer's South Of Heaven but more germanic. Skald does sing a lot in his native tongue and anything sung in rasping German sounds metal to me.

But for those who want some lyrics they can understand, fear not, because Mr Draugir does mix it up. It's not a bad album; I've had it going in the background for a few days and there are plenty of moments when I stopped what I was doing to immerse myself in the murky compositions. Helrunar strike a good balance with the mellow, the mid-tempo and the downright crushing and even when the thrashier bits are going on, the bones of their black metal heritage poke through. Totentanz was a particular favourite with its sharp chord work that builds into a splendid black metal symphony - yet the album is remarkably restrained despite lashings of fevered tremolo picking.

Not a bad soundtrack to go about your icy business but definitely a 'try before you buy' release.