EINHERJER had been one of the pioneers of the Viking Metal genre and that without sounding like most other bands that would follow. Unfortunately they never quite received the acclaim that many of their successors would and subsequently split up in 2004 to form the short-lived Thrash Metal band BATTERED, before reuniting in 2008. Now their comeback album “Norrøn” is on the shelves and it is, well, different.
As mentioned, the Norwegians’ style of Viking Metal had always been a little bit different, but this sounds a little like the crew of a dragonship having fallen into depression, because clunky 13-minute opener “Norrøn Kraft” is a gutsy chunk of slow, plodding Metal kicking this album off in what I think is not really the best representation to lure the listeners in, especially since it differs a lot from what we would expect, but at the same time, it builds up this oppressing atmosphere that weighs you down like a ton of bricks, until this very contrasting calm middle part with acoustic guitar and some almost sound track like keyboards, before returning to the menacing doomy and gloomy war march that shows you the grim and dirty side of Viking Metal without stepping over into the Black Metal realm. Any way you want to twist and turn this, catchy is definitely NOT a word to describe this, so nobody can accuse EINHERJER from trying to go commercial on us.
After this bulky chunk, “Naglfar” reminds a little more of the days of old, where the gloomy atmosphere is meshed with a more upbeat rhythm and increased catchiness, which is heightened to “Alu Alu Laukar”, even though the somewhat odd shout choir of the chorus took me somewhat by surprise, but it fits with the grim, gloomy, warlike atmosphere that the album is drenched in, but “Varden Brenne” is probably as close to the Viking Metal we know as we’ll get, plodding in speed, epic in melody, big in choir, but without trying too hard to win back potentially lost territory with their fans of old, with “Malmting” following suit, minus some of the big epicness, overall faster, heavier and harsher with a stronger Black Metal influence, whereas they return to a slower and more epic style (including choirs) with closing “Balladen Om Bifrost”.
So all in all the first track and the other five stand in at times fairly big contrast, which leads to the question, if there is a method to this madness, did they try to appease the older fans looking for more melody and more epos or did they try to cater to the ones that would accuse them comebackers as band trying to cash in on the still high Viking wave? Either way it will strongly depend on where you stand, how you will perceive “Norrøn”. Some will hail it as a welcome departure from the standard formulas, while others will condemn especially the opener as a bulky clunker that seemingly lacks inspiration and is too drawn out for its own good.
I personally like the album, but the contrast between the mentioned portions of the album is just a bit too big to give us a cohesive album, I am afraid, you will have to hear this yourself to really be able to grasp “Norrøn Kraft” and see, if it will be to your liking, it is rare that a review bears so little descriptive power to be able to fully assist you with that...
(Online October 22, 2011)