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After a nice debut (Grátr, 2003) – which despite its high-standard songs and good sound is strangely considered as a demo – and a split with Nachtmahr (another interesting German band), here’s the new song-collection from Helrunar. The title of the album is very relevant, because these 52 minutes represents very good the mood of distressing frosty nights.
Very good-composed songs, where the rough riffs and cold harmonies are the main elements. They managed to leave behind the previous record’s sometimes Bathory influenced Viking atmospheres, all is now more original and better designed. The duel between the massive riffs and the melodic lines, respectively between the fast and slow parts is more balanced. They also introduced many moody acoustic interludes. Technical guitarplaying, reminding me of older Mayhem and Dissection, and melodic/folky guitarlines reminiscent of Primordial and Falkenbach, but transmitting a colder atmosphere and being closer to traditional Black Metal. Aggressive chilling Black Metal riffs are combined with the star-gazing and gloomy acoustic moments, accompanied by morose BM vocals and a few clean vocals and a spoken voice. The acoustic moments can easily remind you of late Empyrium, the same folk-influenced archaic feeling, embedded in a dark, chilly aura.
I highly recommend this album for everybody in search of well-composed and mystic Black Metal with folk influences. Go out this night in the forest, where the wolves will dance in the moonlight, step into their circle and convince them to listen to Frostnacht, then write us a letter to tell us about the reactions. Don’t laugh, go and buy the album!
Helrunar is a German band and plays black metal, nothing more, nothing less. ‘Frostnacht’ consists of ten fairly standard black metal tracks, a couple of acoustic pieces and an intro. The harsh, raspy vocals are sung in German and sound good and convincing. At times the harsh vocals are accompanied by spoken ones. The production quality is decent and the guitar playing and drumming come across powerful and clearly.
The main problem I have with this album is that songs like ‘Frostnacht’, ‘Unten und im Norden’, ‘…Bis die Seele…’ and ‘Alter Als das Kreuz’ sound good, grim, professionally recorded and display everything you would expect from a black metal band but there is absolutely nothing new here. Everything that is played has been done before by the Norwegian black metal scene and therefore the record sounds a bit rehashed as a whole. There are no distinct original qualities to be found within this album, nothing that would give Helrunar a unique claim to fame and an identity of their own within the already vast and ever-growing catalogue of black metal bands.
Don’t get me wrong because on the positive side of things, the album certainly isn’t a ridiculously bad or a terrible one. The acoustic parts in between the black metal onslaught in tracks like ‘Nachtfrost’ (complete with that good old record player effect layered across the track), ‘Neun Nachte’ and in the final track, ‘Minis Brunnr (Gratr Unnor)’ (which is also the best track on the cd in my opinion) are done nicely and add a lot to the album’s already bleak atmosphere.
Helrunar’s ‘Frostnacht’ would make a relatively worthy addition to a true black metal fan’s collection but people looking for a little more depth or a band playing something original need not bother with this album. Helrunar would be a lot more interesting if they evolved a bit over their next few albums and found an identity of their own.
Originally written for http://www.gothtronic.com