I don’t think anybody likes this album as much as I do, so keep in mind that your mileage, perhaps more than ever, will vary.
This is the second full-length from Viking Metallers EINHERJER, though it really sounds nothing like anything else they released. The music here isn’t as raw as on “Dragons Of The North,” as heavy as “Norwegian Native Art,” or as refined as “Blot.” The lyrics are more focused than the other releases, relying mostly on paraphrases of the Poetic Edda and other tales of the Norse gods and the vocals, by Ragnar Viske instead of guitarist Frode Glesnes, are clean and sound almost nothing like his work on “Norwegian Native Art.”
The sound is less virulent than on other releases, which turns off a lot of people. While it doesn’t resemble anything else in their catalogue, I think “Odin Owns Ye All” is a prime slice of Viking Metal that all fans of the genre should consider.
Skip “Leve Vikingeaanden.” It’s a pretty pointless keyboard intro. “Out Of Ginnungagap” starts with a stomping riff as EINHERJER tell the tale of the creation of the worlds from primordial darkness. People familiar with the Eddas will immediately recognize the lyrics as from the Poetic Edda. For the war between the Æsir and the Vanir, we have the mid-paced “Clash Of The Elder” complete with a wordlessly sung drunk chorus. For the verses the music communicates this great sense of wonder of men in a young world surrounded by gods.
The title track is an appropriate monster, heavy and huge. This is a great song about remembering past friends and fallen comrades. “Remember Tokk” is, appropriately for a song about Loki, a fist in the title track’s face as it does its best to wrench us away from everything else and pay attention only to its greatness. I absolutely love this track. It’s mean, scheming and malevolent. “Home,” about entering Valhalla, is the longest track on the album. Check out the great Viking choir chorus, though I’ll warn you it’s not what you’ve come to expect from a Viking choir.
We’re in the home stretch. “The Pathfinder And The Prophetess” is a quick fun song with another abnormal Viking choir chorus. We visit Ragnarök with “Inferno,” an inexorable march to the end. Meanwhile, “A New World” has a noticeable Power Metal vibe wed with almost a ballad. It’s hopeful, ascending…and finally pensive, afraid.
Everything in this album just sounds right to me. It feels like some primordial music has been unlocked, that I’ve heard these songs before not on the radio or something, but in the soul of humanity. But as I’ve said, your mileage will most likely vary. What’s the greatest Viking Metal album for me may be a curious footnote for you. (Online February 26, 2006)