Even though they are commonly (and rightfully) accepted amongst the prime of Norwegian Black Metal, there has always been something unique and bewitching about the music of KAMPFAR. They have never been lacking in the country’s trademark cold atmosphere and sinister feeling, but where others kept splashing around in a lyrical kiddy-pool of basement Satanism, KAMPFAR have been concentrating on the dark side of Norse folklore, fuelled by Dolk’s lyrics and Thomas’ folk-influenced riffs.
For listeners familiar with the traditional folk elements of KAMPFAR, “Heimgang” brings few new ideas under the sun. Not a single song would seem out of place in a movie about trolls and evil spirits set under a Norwegian mountain, with melodies that would have been dance-friendly if they weren’t served with such a ferocious punch. While the dubious term “Battle Metal” would have been a perfect bandwagon to jump on in order to reach a broader audience, Dolk is still a long way from doing drinking hymns and humppa-metal, which at the very least preserves their rock-hewn integrity.
Like on “Kvass”, this release also makes some solid additions to the band’s discography, and tracks such as the genuinely catchy “Dødens Vee” and “Mareham” will definitely find a spot on any hypothetical “Best Of”-collection (let’s hope that’s an idea that never comes into fruition). With its shout-along chorus, “Antvort” is sure to be a hit for live performances, and the two last tracks, particularly “Vandring”, bring KAMPFAR interestingly close to playing Black Metal-ballads. However, there doesn’t seem to have been many new ideas floating around in the rehearsal space since last time, and it wouldn’t have killed the album to be a little more adventurous.
Whereas “Kvass” scoured some new ground with songs like the eight-minute long fan-favorite “Lyktemenn”, only two of the ten songs on “Heimgang” clock in at over five minutes. There are a few weaker moments on the album, and the rest of the time we are left with KAMPFAR doing what they do best, namely being KAMPFAR. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but remember to bring your sword and leather pants.
(Online October 31, 2008)