Helrunar - Baldr ok Íss
Lupus Lounge
Icy Black Metal
10 songs (50:36)
Release year: 2007
Helrunar, Lupus Lounge
Reviewed by Goat

When the sky turns white, the ground is shimmering with the residue of last night’s frost, and your breathe hangs in the air like a malevolent spirit, what better time is there to listen to Black Metal? Especially Black Metal such as the sort that Helrunar purveys, aloof, traditional, as clear as the winter sky and as warm as the ancient dead. This is the band’s second album, after 2005’s Frostnacht, and the professionalism present is obvious. Each and every riff, each hit of the drums is considered and measured, with not a hint of sloppiness.

Musically taking the melodic, early-to-mid period path of Enslaved and Satyricon, Helrunar follows this route quite blindly, pausing only for the occasional acoustic strumming (such as in mid-album interlude Winter) or epic clean vocals. Opener Dickichgott builds up wonderfully, sampled winds blowing through the militaristic drums and sinister spoken vocals, before exploding into the Blackened maelstrom of Loka Lögsaga. The band certainly has an excellent sense of dynamics - although there’s little difference in the formula throughout the album, there’s enough mountains and valleys in the songwriting to keep you listening.

The album’s theme is the dualism of Baldr, god of light, and the force of ice. There’s little musical attempt that I could fathom to make a diversion between the two as reflected in tracks like Baldr and Íss, although both tracks are excellent and my inability to understand the German and Old Norse lyrics is probably what holds me back in that respect. The complex cover art and runic style of the band’s logo also hints at a common theme for the songs.

If you’re new to this style of Black Metal, then fear not, as there are plenty of moments that will give the casual Blackened listener a sore neck, such as the opening to Glámr and the whole of the restrained and almost Doomy Schwarzer Frost. On the other hand, however, if this modern style of frozen, emotionless kriegkeit leaves you cold, there’s little here to convince you otherwise. The aforementioned acoustics really just act as interludes, and there are more than a few moments where you’ll catch yourself wishing that Helrunar would branch out and try something different.

Overall, it’s worth remembering that this is only the band’s second album, and that there’s little actually wrong with it. In today’s crowded playing field, however, it might take a little more than what’s offered here for the band to carve a niche for itself. A solid album, just don’t expect any new ground to be broken.

Killing Songs :
Loka Lögsaga, Schwarzer Frost, Baldr, Hunta And Boga
Goat quoted 74 / 100
Other albums by Helrunar that we have reviewed:
Helrunar - Niederkunfft reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Helrunar - Grátr reviewed by Goat and quoted 79 / 100
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