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Hamergilde > Der Stolz des Nordlands > Reviews > meelhuysen
Hamergilde - Der Stolz des Nordlands

A promising debut demo - 70%

meelhuysen, January 10th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2002, Cassette, Independent

Der Stolz des Nordlands is the debut demo of the black metal band Hamergilde, that was founded in 1997 as a duo, but used a session bass player on this release. This is hard-to-find material and I am not sure whether it will ever be made available again, even though I am 100% sure there is an audience for it that will really like it.

The tape opens with Richard Wagner's Die Walkure, overdubbed with a famous WWII speech. Die Walkure is of course Wagner's most recognizable part of the opera Der Ring des Nibelungen and together with the speech it pretty much paints a clear picture which road we're on.

Side Blut continues with four black metal tracks that remind me a lot of Absurd's Asgardsrei. Die ewige Sonne is a fairly simple but effective song on a D-beat with only two riffs, alternating between black metal vocals and clean vocals for the chorus. Der Stolz des Nordlands is a notch slower and offers some nice melodies, also relying on only two riffs. I realize its six minutes might be a bit too much for people that like more variation in their songs, but I don’t mind at all. Germania might be more satisfying to them. Again Hamergilde managed to write some strong, pleasing riffs and a catchy chorus. Blut ist unserem Ehre sounds somewhat darker than the previous tracks and has a rather relaxed atmosphere, which is a nice conclusion to this side of the tape.

Side Ehre consists of more moody music, more like the late 1990s works of Burzum or the early works of Halgadom. It starts off with the ambient track Eeuwigheid, which is something I imagine Vikernes could have recorded for Dauði Baldrs. It is a nice break from the distorted guitars and comes at an appropriate moment in the succession of songs. Ragnarök might very well be the most pleasing track of the demo. It has a very satisfying bass melody, which somehow make me think of the better Isengard tracks on Vinterskugge, and effective clean vocals, humming along with the guitar riff; sure, they’re sometimes slightly out of tune, but I’ve heard much worse in that area. The demo closes with In dem goldenem Saal, layering acoustic guitars over buzzing black metal. Its abrupt short fade-out after almost three minutes might be the tape’s weakest point, since it not only breaks off a song that’s still going strong, but it also makes for an unsatisfying ending of the entire demo. Even a small outro might have taken care of that…

Overall, the production isn't really great, but it is decent enough for a homemade demo tape – again I’ve heard worse – with each song recorded in one or only a few takes. The music is still more than okay and quite convincing. The demo as a whole has a solid structure because all songs have their own unique identities and are well distinguishable. The musical performance is always spontaneous, energetic and atmospheric. We can sometimes hear the musicians talk and fool around in between and even during songs, which would be annoying on most traditional black metal releases, but somehow emphasizes the comradery that was present during the recordings. Sure, this tape is far from flawless, but nothing ever is, so I'm not bothered. The lyrics are all in German, except the few words whispered on Eeuwigheid. If you like Absurd's Asgardsrei and Schwarzer Orden's self-titled debut you will certainly like this music as well.

(I originally reviewed this demo tape in Black Art Magazine issue 6 (2003), but revisited the cassette a few times for this extended review on Metal Archives. The above text is new, but repeats some parts I had already written down in 2003.)