Review by Vladimir on March 15, 2023.
Canadian one-man black/folk/Viking metal project Burden Of Ymir, spearheaded by Joe Caswell, has released its fifth full-length album Heorot on March 10th 2023 via the label Flowing Downward. This latest album is a bit of a conceptual departure in terms of the lyrical theme, ditching Norse mythology for the epic tale of Beowulf, whereas the album is titled after the mead hall at the center of the tale. Although I am always very skeptical about US or Canadian metal bands singing about European folklore, paganism, mythology, tales and such, I still somehow manage to let it slide and give it a chance. So, I figured why not do the same thing this time, I am sure I can’t go completely wrong.
The album starts with a folk instrumental intro 'Hwaet' which builds up the pagan atmosphere from the get-go, while the second track 'Recounting On The Seas' nicely transitions to folk inspired Viking/black metal. There is plenty of melodic guitar work, accordion, drums that vary in speed between slow, mid-tempo and fast, all the while vocals switch between harsh to clean and melodic pagan singing. The third track 'The Great Mead Hall' features some catchy and folky melodic guitar riffs and mid-tempo drumming, without necessarily incorporating that many black metal elements other than the harsh vocals. The fourth track 'Revenge Found In The Night' finally throws in some more folky black metal along the line, with some d-beat drumming that later switches to blast beats, as well as an occasional accordion in the song’s mid-section. My personal favorite is the sixth track 'The Ninth Hour Approaches', which in my opinion does a wonderful job thanks to its melodic and emotional songwriting. Accordions appear frequently on this album when you least expect them, but not to the extent where it’s shoved in your face, rather appropriately placed where it does the job. The songwriting on this album is quite various in style when combining elements from the three aforementioned genres, which provides a richer and wider specter of influences like Finntroll, Windir, Ensiferum, Forefather and Falkenbach, all the while suspecting that the idea for the use of accordion is most definitely coming from Windir. Although I am not a huge fan of Finntroll in particular, I do like the fact that there is a good amount of stuff that I find suitable for my personal taste. Weird as it may seem, even though there are similarities to Windir, I still think that Burden Of Ymir doesn’t quite radiate the same level of energy when applying everything by the book, even with the use of melodic/pagan songwriting with accordion interludes. It’s probably due to the fact that the music obviously doesn’t come from the same mind, but cast all differences aside, I think it would be unfair of me to compare any musician to a genius that Valfar was. The sound production is quite solid in my opinion, it’s not grandiose or anything, but it does the job well, and I like the fact that the bass guitar has a nice distortion added to it, which sounded badass in the second track 'Recounting On The Seas'.
Although the album is not something to gawk at and admire like other releases of its kind, I consider Heorot as a pretty solid work for a one-man project that did its best at doing what’s right. I would recommend Burden Of Ymir only for those that really like some or all of the aforementioned bands, I think that this is something you might want to check out and see for yourself if this really is your kind of thing.
Rating: 7.7 out of 10749