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If Bathory’s creation of the genre is your view on how epic and colossal the Viking genre of metal is supposed to sound then Vinlandic Northern Heritage is not your typical Viking metal release. It would be unfair to say that there is no Bathory influence here: the first half of the closing track “Shores of Vinland” is pretty much composed from a single riff that bleeds of Vinterbolt and Dragons Breath influence. It is easily noticeable that the influence is worn on their sleeves from the very first moments.
The vocal performance could be the first immediate turn off to even the biggest of Viking metal fans. It really doesn’t have that same passion in the voice as Quorthon or even Tomi Joutsen (Amorphis). The mono-tone bellowing pushed back in the mix doesn’t sound as heartfelt as our fellow Viking Quorthon did on the two Nordland albums or Hammerheart. None of these tracks come off as particularly aggressive even with the aptly named Odin’s Wrath which includes droning choir like vocals (ala Nordland though only a quarter as epic). It is quite possible I am totally missing the point. The lyrics were not included in the book (only a couple of photos of the two members) and it is near impossible to make out any of the lyrics but the Norsemen were proud to be proud and would never tolerate a half-assed attitude towards their heritage.
The intro to the final track Shores of Vinland (lasting three minutes and composed of two riffs) is the most interesting piece of this album. If there is a shining moment that truly comes close to matching the epicness of Bathory this would be it. But only one snitch; while one of these two riffs is really thought out and sounds complete the second is only a rhythm part composed of the same notes and doesn’t explore the fret board like any good guitarist should. This is what drags the entire demo down on a whole basis. Aside for the absolute opening riff of Shores of Vinland the entire demo seems to be on the same notes just at different rhythms [but I must mention the third and final riff of Shores of Vinland does explore a little more into a sort of Hammerheart feel].
Aside from the blackened buzzing chainsaw guitars Odin’s Wrath includes a short clean toned guitar piece halfway through and Shores of Vinland includes a small break with traditional drumming, tambourines and the tracks only vocals (while To Enter the Halls of Gold is completely composed in this setting). I can understand that this is a demo displaying what the band wants and can do but in future releases (if the band wants to be a folk/Viking act) it would be great to mix these compositions together in more thought provoking ways that flow together. These small breaks really strangle the flow of the songs and while it works for some music I feel that the flow of the music is highly disrupted.
While I enjoyed the overall idea and sound of the demo I felt isolated and possible led astray at certain attributes and moments of this demo. But I was intrigued enough to come back three years after obtaining the demo to write this review and I am still (three years later) intrigued enough to look forward to what else Fjörd has to offer.