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Viking metal can be a curious genre. It may include musically completely different bands and be as various as the difference is between the cheesiness of say Turisas or Ensiferum and the majestic epicness of Bathory up to the black metal aggression of early Enslaved or Helheim. It's only the viking theme in the lyrics what connects these bands. Allegiance is also one of those viking themed Scandinavian troops. But music wise they haven't got much in common with any of these bands I mentioned above. Hmm, maybe there are some similarities in fragments to "Frost" LP, but generally Allegiance is much more aggressive and straight forward, but at the same time melodic and Swedish sounding. "Hymn Till Hangagud" is their debut album from 1996 and I must say it's one of my favourite Swedish albums from that period.
The strength of the album lays in both excellent song writing and the production. Generally Allegiance is very Swedish in their style, but the band managed to bring also some other influences into their music, what in the end makes this album very original and unique.
"Hymn Till Hangagud" kicks off with the riff that is almost close to Kampfar's folky black metal riffing and from that one fragment, Allegiance got my attention. "Höfdingadrapa" is excellent song, it's epic, majestic, but catchy also, with the chorus "Geir fathur Ravners godt" inviting to scream. But then "De Nordiska Lagren" comes with acoustics interludes, some Dissection-esque melodic riffs, there are even silent keyboards hidden behind the guitars... It's another great song, probably even the best on the album, as I love its blend of fairly melodic parts with aggression and fast riffs. "The Third Raven" is even more aggressive, this song really stands similar to what bands like Throne of Ahaz, Sacramentum or Vinterland were doing in those times... and man, it's 4 minutes of pure aggression, but without forgetting about the melodic aspect of Allegiance; just listen to the guitar lead here! These three songs are enough really to understand the strength of Allegiance debut album, luckily for the listener "Hymn Till Hangagud" doesn't end here and brings few more songs.
One of them, titled "Himmelen Rämnar" is another my favourite; it's opened by the acoustic theme and then this catchy mournful melody, which is very much in the style of Dissection's "The Somberlain" album. This is fantastic, mid paced song, and great epic, monumental atmosphere just brings attention fully and convince me these are some of the best tunes the Swedish land has unleashed in the mid 90's. Truly, the album hasn't got anything what I would complain at.
The production is just great, probably one of the best ones to come from Unisound and Dan Swano, at least in this style of metal. Fast fragments sound like thunders roaring in the sky and everything is so clear in the sound, the drums, the vocals... The production definitely makes the songs even more killer, especially that so often the sound kills good music... Here it's not the case; "Hymn Till Hangagud" sounds brilliant. If that's not enough compliments for you, then the front cover looks just fantastic, great idea and design, with these priests hanged on the tree, ravens flying around them (probably looking for some eye balls to eat out) and the angry viking roaring in bloodthirst. Inside of the booklet you'll also find plenty of band photos and lyrics, mainly in Swedish, but those, which are in English I fuckin enjoyed reading! They're great, just take a look on these lines:
"Weak ones- be food to my axe
It´s twin edges thirst for your blood
My winter pale horse grinds down all resist
I ride with the speed of the light..."
"Gods of all things wild
Of storm and warlit sky
Of battles past present and to come
With faith in thee I know I can not die..."
I can't believe how much this band and this album in particular has been clearly forgotten and underestimated nowadays. Seems like there are only few who remember Allegiance, probably mainly due to the Bogge's and Friedrik Andersson's role in Marduk. But trust me, this is brilliant music. Sadly it was released just once, by No Fashion Records, so nowadays this CD is totally unavailable, so this may also be the reason for the underestimation of Allegiance. Maybe it will change one day, maybe someone will re-release it (hopefully on vinyl, just like A Canorous Quintet gets their albums released on LP now), but till then, try to get the first pressing or even mp3 and listen to one of my favourite Swedish albums from the mid 90's.
I heard this album back in 1998, and thought that was the most hateful album for a Viking oriented project. And guess what, I listen to it today and still think the same
But let’s start from the beginning, the production of this album is great, it sounds thick, and all instruments are audible, but it still sounds raw and powerful. Maybe the vocals are a little in the background of the wall of sound that guitars and drums create, but fit perfectly well the hateful mood of this album
The riffs are outstanding, being fairly melodic, they have some thrashing moments, mixing fast paced madness with some slow marching “headbanging” moments. The entire album is full of energy, being the guitars the main responsible of this. There is also some Norsecore riffing ala Marduk here, even before Marduk was called Norsecore, and the interesting thing is that those moments aren’t annoying, on the contrary, they give some fresh air to the whole album.
You’ll find no keyboards here, no sir, they are not necessary here, as I said before, the riffing is the most important aspect of this album, so the keys would have a noxious effect by cooling the intensity of the songs.
The drumming is intense and breathtaking, but not as a monotonous Blast Beats machine, they change all the time, and what is killer is the use of the Ride cymbal in the slow marching riffs, I FUCKING LOVE THAT SHIT!!! Bass is, as usual in Black Metal, left at the bottom in the mixing, but is fairly audible.
The songs go from 4 to 9 minutes long, and, to my opinion the outstanding moments are Höfdingadrapa wich is the opening track. It’s a long one, with a lot of changes, it starts growing with some cool drum pattern and some acoustic guitars, to then, after some sword sounds, unleash all the song power, then the album flows with really good and powerful songs, up to The March of Walkire Damned, another long track, full of changes wich has an exceptional and epic guitar work. The next track is the intense Stridsfärd, three minutes of complete rawness and speed, with blast beats almost all the way. And then Spjutsången is unleashed, the closing and perhaps the best one. It begins slow, with some nice melody and then moves to a headbanging riff that will chill your soul, great stuff right there, and this very track ends with one of the most melodic riff of the album.
This is a great album people, get it, and enjoy some powerful piece of furious Black Metal with melodic moments and some Viking melodies and lyrics (at least the ones written in English)
If you're looking for an album that is epic, brutal, and old-school than I suggest you take a listen to Allegiance's Hymn Till Hangagud. This is probably the best Viking War Metal (the bands own description) that you will find anywhere and quite possibly one of the best albums in the entire genre of metal. The entire album is dedicated to the Allfather Odin and enough to make Odin open the gates of Valhalla for these Swedish warrior poets. Featuring amazing brutal drumming from legendary skin pummeler Fredrik Andersson of Marduk fame, fierce old-school guitar riffing from Bogge and Thornell, to go along with the insane vocals of Bogge. The album opens with "Hofdingadrapa", a song that starts off with a tribal beat by Andersson and an acoustic part and then builds up into some brutal riffing and fast brutal drums. The song ends with a memorable epic riff. "De Nordiska Lagren" is an excellent brutal song with superior drumming and a great slower middle part complete with a slight hint of a chorus in the background and some really great riffing. "The Third Raven" kicks in with hyperspeed tempo and drives over everything like a bulldozer. Once again excellent drumming and riffing dominate. "Himmelan Ramnar" starts out with what sounds to be an interesting bass line and then is copied with guitar riffing. A slower pace is used on this song compared to the first 3 tracks but it's still a great song. "Den Kristnes Dod" picks up the hyperspeed brutality again and although not the best song on the album it has a nice memorable riff towards the middle along with a guitar solo. "The Marsch of Warlike Damned" is a standout track that is extremely hymnish and contains some more memorable riffs and and drumming along with an epic part towards the middle with tribal style drumming, a cool bass solo and rousing vocals that really kick your ass. "Stridsfard" is probably the most sub-par song on the album because nothing really stands out but by no means a bad song. Finally we come to the last track entitled "Spjutsangen" which is one of the best songs on the album and a perfect song for the album to end with. "Spjutsangen" follows the same formula of the first track "Hofdingadrapa" starting off with acoustic guitar work building into brutality and then ending with rousing vocals, the sound of horses, and an epic riff. All in all I rate this album up with Satyricon's Nemesis Divine as a total masterpiece but an often overlooked (or underlooked) one. Hymn Till Hangagud is Hymnish Brutal Black Viking War Metal featuring elite drumming, old school brutal riffing with melody, and insane vocals and it will surely leave your ass kicked.
This is quality black/viking metal. Allegiance may not be a total groundbreaker or something revolutionary. On the other hand, this band use their ability and skill while they are pounding and thrashing their instruments. To describe the actual music I would say that this band have a lot in common with fellow swedish acts like Dark Funeral and Vintersorg(!). Melodic black metal with folkstrings but still have the swedish school BM brutality.
Compared to other Allegiance albums this is rawer and more violent in its sound. The production is great if you consider that it was released in 1995. Hymn Til Hangagud(Hymn to god of the hanged). This album goes deep into the dark and more evil side om the well used pagan theme.
Killer tracks:The Third Raven, Stridsfärd and Höfdingadrapa