Whenever the subject of influential Viking metal rears its head from beneath freezing, storm-ridden waves, Dragons of the North (Napalm Records) by Norwegian act Einherjer usually finds its way into the conversation fairly quickly. Released in 1996, the record still remains a favourite among fans of the excessively hairy subgenre, and twenty-five years later the band are still going strong.
For their eighth studio album, North Star (Napalm Records), Einherjer continues the good work of the previous release Norrøne spor (Napalm Records), crafting their usual blend of black and folk metal with a strong sense of groove. Thunderous opener ‘The Blood and the Iron’ possesses a driving rhythm underpinned by a slick, dark melody during the chorus, the drums clanging like metal pounded on an anvil.
‘Stars’ features tribal Viking drumming accompanied by the bass guitar of frontman Frode Glesnes, the slow thumping march building to an insistent chorus punctuated by some tasty lead guitar work eventually revealing a very Opeth-esque melody. ‘West Coast Groove’ boasts a lively rhythm, and the only heads not bobbing to the rippling, armour-plated monster that is ‘Ascension’ are ones separated from their bodies during battle.
‘Higher Fire’ and ‘Echoes in Blood’ are serious neck-wreckers, the latter equipped with some wickedly dancing melodies. ‘Listen to the Graves’ is a more dynamic beast featuring an appropriately sinister chorus, while ‘Chasing the Serpent’ is a slightly disappointing climax. Not a bad song by any stretch, just not the devastating final blow it could have been.
A cold but strong production brings Glesnes’s rasping snarl and Gerhard Storesund‘spounding drums to the forefront, but never overpowering the new twin-guitar attack of Tom Enge and Ole Sønstabø. A clear and focused album with strong performances from everyone involved, North Star is another powerful slab of Nordic metal of which the band can be suitably proud.
Pre-Order “North Star” here: https://smarturl.it/Einherjer-NorthStar
7 / 10