Review by Vladimir on April 21, 2023.
Heimland is a black metal band from the western coast of Norway, formed in 2016. This brand-new act has already presented itself with two singles and an EP, and are about to release their debut album Forfedrenes Taarer on May 5th via Edged Circle Productions. You may be unfamiliar with Edged Circle Productions, but to give you a little info, it's a label founded by Iscariah of former Necrophagia and Immortal fame. Norway is obviously getting richer with new black metal bands each day, but how do these new black metal acts hold up in quality? Let's find out!
The opening track 'Doedens Foerstning' consists solely of acoustic guitar playing, which plays a specific melody that would be repeated on the following track 'Ved Doedens Vugge'. Although the acoustic melody is once again heard from the very beginning of the second track, this time it's played by the electric guitar in tremolo picking style while the drums and harsh vocals slowly join in on the ride. The song has its rhythmic variations from fast to mid-tempo, slow and so forth, but it generally keeps the tone and atmosphere consistent all throughout the song even during the mid-section which is drastically different from the rest. The third track 'Lagt I Ruiner' has some catchy palm-muted triplet riffing and mid-tempo going on during the song's verse, but later on changes to tremolo picking and double-bass drumming. The interesting part of the fourth track 'Iskald Raatten Jord' which has some catchy rock'n roll riffing going on and the vocals suddenly uttering "ÖUGH!". I must say that this caught me off guard but nevertheless pleased the Celtic Frost maniac within me. The songwriting of simple and traditional black metal is very enjoyable and engaging throughout the album's entirety, while the musical atmosphere in a way feels a bit pagan. Some songs are a bit lacking in its riffs but nevertheless carry out the overall performance quite well. The sound production is overall solid but nothing spectacular, but I like that the guitars have a nice cold tone.
The overall output isn't fancy or anything special, but it is a pretty decent and listenable album in my opinion. Norway's new black metal bands could either be a hit or miss, but in my opinion Heimland is far from a miss. The band seems to be on the middle ground where they haven't quite reached their full potential despite proving themselves capable of making good music, although I do think that this album shows much promise and I believe that Heimland aren't far from climbing on a higher top.
Rating: 7.8 out of 10638
Review by Michael on March 12, 2023.
Heimland from Norway have been around since 2016, but have only released two singles (2019) and an EP in 2021. It's a good thing that the Norwegian label Edged Circle Productions, which has been attracting attention with outstanding releases lately (In Aphelion, Vathr, Bodyfarm, AngelBlast, to name a few), has taken on the band.
The very tasteful cover, painted by Johan Christian Dahl in 1813 ("Kirkeruiner") gives an idea of what the CD is about already - namely traditional Scandinavian influenced black metal and indeed, to anticipate the review, with Forfedrenes Taarer the four Scandinavians have shaken an album out of their sleeves for which many other black metal bands would probably light a few candles, to remain politically correct.
The acoustic intro alone, whose melody will play a central theme again and again in the course of the album, is worth listening to. But of course we don't only want to hear acoustic guitars, but also good old Scandinavian black metal in the style of the early 90s. And this is what the guys deliver without any problems. The whole thing always slightly reminds of old Aeternus, because mainly mid tempo-heavy and somewhat melancholic melodies are played, but here and there also the typical icy atmosphere of old Kampfar or Enslaved flashes. Thus, 'Ved Doedens Vugge' is characterized by the opening melody and thus exudes a certain sadness. However, this is paired by the hateful and croaky vocals of singer Gnist with a strong pinch of hate, just like the sinister tremolo riffs and the powerful drums. Even when the quartet increases the tempo, as in 'Skugger Fra Ei Svunnen Tid', the melodiousness does not fall by the wayside. Here, too, Scandinavian melancholy is indulged in, much like Kampfar did on their first EP or the Swedes of Skogen. But Heimland do not shy away from acoustic passages that invite the listener to pause and take a breath, as you can hear impressively in this song and in the last track 'Ættestupet'.
With a pissed off Celtic Frost "Uugh" and a casual riff, the guys rock out a bit more on 'Iskald Raatten Jord' than on the other very traditionally influenced songs and also 'Lagt I Ruiner' is a bit catchier with its galloping rhythm. But Heimland do not shy away from acoustic passages that invite the listener to pause for a moment and take a deep breath, as can be heard impressively in 'Skugger Fra Ei Svunnen Tid'. Talking about the atmosphere the album may create to the listener - often the press info is pretty much exaggerated but when it says: “Swift and succinct at 35 minutes, the seven-song Forfedrenes Taarer takes the listener across myriad landscapes - desolate tundra, raging seas, bloody battlefields, solemn castle keeps - with an ever-rolling and authentic physicality that spans searing speed and grim marches alike” I guess this exactly hits the nail on the head.
The album was recorded, mixed and mastered by Andreas Fosse Salbu (Sepulcher, Reptilian) and at least my decrepit ears could not discover any big reason for complaint. Perhaps the drums sound a little too bright in places, but otherwise the whole thing has become a coherent affair.
As a summary, it can be said that Heimland has presented a very impressive debut album with Forfedrenes Taarer, that at least with me will be heard often. Let's hope that there will be a CD release soon, because at first the album will be released via Edged Circle only as vinyl and tape. Stupid for everyone who doesn't own a record player!
Rating: 9.5 out of 10638