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I had never heard from Helheim before this release and when I bought it I had serious doubts concerning this album, since I was encouraged to buy it after reading a review in the Metal Hammer mag. However those who listen to this record will not be disappointed in any way.
To begin with, let us take a look at the title: “The journeys and experiences of death”. This title highly suggests that the songs recorded will deal with matters concerning Death and thoughts surrounding this affair. If death per se is not a new concept within metal music, this is a refreshing touch for a band which allows it’s music to be classified within the viking/black genre, where lyrics concerning incarnate Viking battles and lyrics which describe how “bad” religion is and how cool the devil can be are a plague more annoying than the ones written in the old testament. Helheim explore this phenomenon (death) and describe some funeral rites with very interesting lyrics.
As for the music this one is a pretty fucking solid release. Heavy riffs provide the heaviness every fan seeks for. Furthermore every song manages to create and develop an atmosphere of its own; this allows the listener to really dive into this band’s sound.
Each one of the songs has a clearly defined structure, yet they are neither boring nor repetitive. The drumming can be defined as flawless, it is heavy and rhythmical.
The ultimate highlight from this album is “Oaken Dragons” which is by far the most elaborated song in this release. It is the song with the slowest tempo and is highly atmospheric, which enforces the lyrical theme and brings the story told to life. Furthermore the vocals in that song are very varied throughout the entire piece and add that special shit to the song.
Helheim is one of those bands to watch out for, the potential and sound to go HUGE. 2006 hasn't been the most promising year for music releases in Norway (So we have a few like Gorgoroth's new album, but not the point.) I never listened to or even heard of Helheim before this release. But fuck, with an opening song like Veneration for the Dead your first impression is Heavy as Fuck Viking/Black. Although I personally don't listen to this side of brutality within Black Metal this is definently a solid ground breaking release. The chugging quitars (which are quite impressive and unique) and in rhythm drumming is a definent up to this album but what actually makes this album fascinating is the elements Helheim have used on it, combining the Genres of Viking and Black Metal flawlessly. The vocals are nothing special but it provides to the atmosphere Helheim sets giving you an actual visualization of Viking Metal war. The production sounds as if it was made actually for Helheim. As you get further into the album you can hear what im talking about. Oaken Dragons is surely enough the highlight of this album. I don't know what that is in the beginning of the song but the sudden calm and decrease of speed and tremelo of riffs makes your spine shiver. Not too repetitive but in some way unique and entertaining, not so messy as other songs and very well put together. The lyrics to what I can understand soo far are very powerful and sets a story line along with the guitars to a battle field and their Viking ancestors long dead. I await to see what Helheim has next after this masterpiece, overall this is an incredible album and definently worth buying and listen to again and again. Perhaps even make you want to sharpen your sword and go out to war.