The runes on the backcover claim the music inside as "Pagan Midgard Art". This and the comparison to FALKENBACH made me anxious to hear the CD. In the past, unfortunately, comparisons like that were misleading only too often, but any doubts about the quality of HELs debut "Orloeg" are furiously swept away by the opener "Erlkönig", which showcases the huge potential of this German duo.
After a very atmospheric intro with wind and acoustic guitars, highly melodious Melodic Black Metal (where the "Black"-part can only function as rough orientation) with underlaid keyboards. With at one time rough, at the other time clear voice, the "Erlkönig"-poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is transcribed almost perfectly, because especially the effects of wind and horses are greatly embedded into the very epic composition, which can hardly be described sufficiently with words.
Also the other tracks are all very epic, with very intelligently used keyboards, with everything one may hope for: doomy parts and really fast ones, acoustic guitars or guitar-walls. On the vocal side, HEL use clean vocals fairly often, while the rest are moderate Black Metal-Vox, which are more rough than croaky, which complement the German lyrics very well. Medieval melodies can be found just as can be so Metal-"typical" instruments like the Maultrommel.
HELs music is reminiscent of a great bastard of BATHORY in their "Hammerheart"-era, FALKENBACH and the pathos of MANOWAR, but still it is extremely difficult to put the music, the atmosphere and the whole art into mere words, you'd have to hear the songs to get a full view of this album.
So, who likes the above-mentioned bands even only a bit, cannot make a mistake by buying "Orloeg", because HEL have produced one of the best debut albums of the past time!