The first time I crossed swords (!) with Norse warriors Einherjer was shortly after the release of the stellar blackened Viking Metal opus Odin Owns Ye All (Century Media) when they impressed on a bill that included Cradle of Filth and the underrated Old Man’s Child. The next stages of their career, however, were not so kind on the band, as they struggled to establish themselves, or really kick on.
Yet it’s a funny thing the tides and times of man, as, following a split shortly after the turn of the millennium, absence did indeed make the heart grow fonder, and a rejuvenated band sees themselves ten years into their second run with more good will and creative legacy than at any time since.
Norrøne Spor (Indie Recordings), their third full length since coming back, strides forth with confidence, knowing that it has two ample Nordic cousins from recent times at its side to shore up a reasonable legacy. Focusing less on the folkier elements that have entwined with some of their work, and more on straight-up melodic blackened Metal, this is an album that ploughs a longship furrow not a million miles from the more recent outpourings of countrymen Satyricon; steady, mid-tempo and stomping, with Gerhard Storesund pounding a marching beat throughout – ‘Fra Konge Te Narr’ a strong example of this menacing but restrained trudge.
In and out, Einherjer spice up the mix with elements of Post-Rock, Folk and Classic Metal and elements of a Black Metal past; ‘Spre Vingene’ injects pace and a nod to Bathory-ian hues while ‘Døden Tar Ingen Fangar’ recalls the aforementioned Old Man’s Child.
And decent, sturdy fare this be. ‘Mot Vest’ adds a discordant shower of shimmering guitar peals, with Frode Glesnes’ best Abbath croak punctuating a pulsing, measured step that builds matters into a tune that ends up being, strangely, not too far away from Sølstafir, though with a blacker and more metallic heart, before matters are wrapped up by a perfunctory and gratifying run through of Motörhead’s ‘Deaf Forever’, in tribute to a cornerstone of their sound.
Einherjer have never a forerunner in their scene, and while Norrøne Spor isn’t going to change that status, it does represent the band as a whole – functional and well-crafted, enduring and resolute, and continuing to deliver solid blackened Viking metal that is wholly enjoyable.