HELFAHRT is a Bavarian band playing Pagan Metal, and they do really play Pagan Metal. If anyone has doubts about what this genre name means, they should listen to “Wiedergang” for the explanation. This does not necessarily mean that this album is the epitome of awesomeness, but that this band exemplifies this style in a very good manner, as they follow the general guidelines for what is Pagan Metal throughout this record. There is almost-Black Metal riffing with a distorted sound and no excesses, there is rough growling placed fairly low in the mix, there is rhythmic drumming changing into blastbeats and returning to the slower pace, and there is the occasional folk or acoustic part strolling along in the songs.
HELFAHRT’s greatest strength is the work with rhythms, which they use a lot, especially on the second half of the album. The drumming works closely with the bass and the guitars to find the perfect riffing and rhythm cooperation. The best example of this is also the best song on here, as I see it: “Perchta”. The guitars and bass do nothing exceptional, but there seems to be a well-thought-through idea permeating the albums riffing and that enhances the experience for me. I do think, though, that the vocals should have been the subject of more experimenting. As the music is tight and rhythmic, but fairly devoid of surprises, it would have done much for the variation to have something a bit more adventurous in the vocal department. The Black Metal growling fits into the music, but are both unintelligible and low in the mix, and do therefore not attract that much attention.
The character of this album makes it a bit hard to take in fully during the first listen. Many of the songs need closer attention to show their true potential, but even with that taken into account, I think that there is a point in having some degree of immediate appeal in the music, so for me, the album drops a bit by being so uniform at the surface. However, I cannot deny that a deeper level of the songs revealed themselves to me at the repeated listening sessions and “Irrlicht”, “Die Erde Birgt Den Tod” and “Herbst” turned out to be the best songs alongside the aforementioned “Perchta”.
This is a good record and I really recommend it to fans of KAMPFAR, NAGLFAR and MINAS MORGUL. My advice for the next album is that they develop the folk side of the music, which is included here in a flute interlude on “Herbst” for example, and maybe add another instrument, like a violin or a pipe. I also think that they should oversee the vocal department and think about adding other vocal styles. These things would increase the directness of the music and thereby grab the attention of the listener earlier, as well as add a new dimension to the sound.
(Online November 27, 2008)