So far I had only read about HIMINBJORG, for example that they apparently are the first (and as far as I know also only) Viking Metal band coming out of France. Now I am a big Viking Metal fan, but for some weird reason I have never come together with HIMINBJORG, which looking back comes rather surprising, to be honest. Because "Golden Age" already is their third album and the reviews for their two previous albums "Third" and "Haunted Shores" already had made me look forward to this one.
Well, if you expected something in the style of ENSIFERUM, MOONSORROW or also AMON AMARTH (if you regard them as Viking Metal in first place), then you should re-think a potential purchase of "Golden Age" and rather try to listen into it first, because HIMINBJORG are quite a bit away from the powerful epics and big choirs of these bands. Instead the French band is a lot more and deeper rooted in Black Metal than many of their genre colleagues, also as the above mentioned ones.
The opener "The Opening" (finally a truly fitting title, hehe) comes along with a big Black Metal cannonade, with harsh vocals and partly fat double-bass and some thunderous blastbeats, only a few of the melodies actually remind me of Viking Metal, while the following "Death Of A King" reminds me a lot of OBTAINED ENSLAVEMENT's "The Shepherd And The Hounds Of Hell" CD, with the fat double bass, vocals and also the melodies, strong song for sure!
After the again very Black Metallic "The Galleries Of Time" and the slightly strange 'instrumental' "-" "What Was…" for the first time brings us also clear vocals and a song without blastbeats (ok, almost without blastbeats), but great melodies. "…And To Fight Forever" then is the most probably best track on "Golden Age", with very varied tempo, Black Metal gnarl as well as very good clear vocals, strong melodies and an interesting and gripping structure, strong, really strong I must say! Compared to this "Him" is almost pure melodic Black Metal, fast, with the flirring guitars and especially the harsh vocals of front demon Zahaah.
The production out of Les Studios Andromède by Ludovic Tournier also is truly great, with a lot of power and very clear, which HIMINBJORG's songs surely benefit of, because they get the space they need to unfold.
In the end I must say that I somehow come to the conclusion that at least "Golden Age" only partly can go through as Viking Metal, because the Black Metal influences at times are very strongly in the majority. But to try to twist a rope around the band's neck for this would be unfair, because I guess that HIMINBJORG themselves were the last ones to proclaim themselves as Viking Metal (and I, as mentioned, do not know their first two albums). Why? Because the quality of "Golden Age" is high, no matter how you would want to categorise them in the end. If you like often fast Black Metal with harsh vocals and also have a soft spot for good melodies and partly clear vocals, then HIMINBJORG might reserve a spot in your CD rack. (Online October 19, 2003)