Review by Felix on October 23, 2023.
With albums like Desert Northern Hell, Tsjuder have already proven their competence in terms of absolute destruction. Admittedly, they are as lazy as Dark Funeral and similar sleepyheads, but if they break out, they know neither friends nor family. 'Iron Beast', the fittingly titled opener, sets the course with its devastating approach and 'Prestehammeren', which is introduced by air-raid sounds, follows by conviction. Okay, I did not fear that Tsjuder clam down after an infernal opener, nevertheless it feels good to have the certainty that they stay musically brutal. (Only) for the sake of variety, 'Surtr' marks the first epic piece, but don’t think of mid-tempo and majestic melody lines. Its rather a monument of coldness. A gloomy intro leads to icy guitar lines that celebrate the Northern fight for survival. Tsjuder rush across barren plateaus under cloud-heavy skies. If Fenriz would see and hear them, he would immediately realise that he has forgotten how real (black) metal sounds. Hey dude, write a message for Nocturno Culto, go to the studio immediately and start the recordings for “Transilvanian Bloodthirst” or something like that… Anyway, 'Surtr' unites all elements that shape the majestic grandeur of pure black metal.
'Helvegr', bad news for the pale members of the lo-fi union, is based on a powerful and dense production. It’s surely not a very original description, forgive me, it was a hard day in the office and my brain is empty, but I cannot say it in any other way: 'Helvegr' provides a massive wall of sound. The guitars rule, but the drums do not get lost in their constant noise, even though the bass drum has a tough job. And the vocals? What about the vocals, he? Well, we listen to another angry and vicious demon that nags, growls and screams his evil wisdoms. It’s an absolutely generic performance – and therefore a definitely fantastic one at the same time. This guy simply delivers the only adequate vocals for this form of music. Yes, black metal has, just like any other genre, some guidelines you better do not hurt. Call me an incorrigible traditionalist, but I like it exactly this way.
It comes as no surprise that this long-lasting unit is clever enough to save itself from boring one-dimensionality. The Norwegians vary the tempo, the length and (minimally) the harshness. They are able to manage some different facets. On the one hand, songs like 'Gamle-Erik' welcome (and destroy) the listener with machine gun drums and highly intensive guitars, on the other hand the title track with its tragic, desperate melody lines is not among the wildest eruptions, but still a high quality piece. Is this the setting of a fjord landscape in autumn? No clue, but I am really glad that some Norwegians still carry the torch of violent black metal. If you do not believe me, just ask the “Gods of Black Blood”. Or, even better, listen to the eponymous monument of sinister art that Tsjuder presents on this masterpiece called Helvegr.
Rating: 9 out of 10663
Review by Michael on June 22, 2023.
When I first saw the cover of the new Tsjuder album Helvegr, I expected nothing good, but a stylistic reorientation and we all hate changes, don't we? A drawn demonic mountain panorama, slightly reminiscent of old Watain, is already a stark change compared to the old covers. At least the logo has remained the same I thouht to myself but when I listened to the promo for the first time, I quickly relaxed and sat down on the sofa with a diabolical grin. It is because on Helvegr Tsjuder has changed only minimally, even if with Anti-Christian (my absolute favorite pseudonym) their drummer (once again) has left the band and the guys continue as a duo who only get a live support.
With 'Iron Beast' the Norwegians show directly, where the rubber meets the road and hammer with full-speed and without consideration for losses. This is hyper-fast black metal, which is as uncompromising as Marduk was with their "Panzer Division" back then, only that Tsjuder also include a few groovy melodies here and there. But not only black metal diesel monsters are paid homage to, but also other supernatural demons. The whole thing is still packed with raging black metal, which sometimes comes across more atmospheric than on the previous albums Legion Helvete and Antiliv. In addition, they pay homage to the good old role models such as Celtic Frost and Slayer ('Prestehammeren') with typical riffing and dramatic solos, which build up powerful tension a'la Dissection, to which they dedicate a complete intro with the beginning of 'Surtr' (which sounds like the intro of "Storm Of The Lights Bane"). However, here too, space is soon made for a super-fast song and the atmosphere is swept aside by clashing, ice-cold riffs and sinister double layered vocals. The title track also tends in the similar direction, with a very atmospheric beginning and riffs that are quite reminiscent of Mayhem's glory days. But the song also surprises with a fantastic groovy part with already slightly rocking drums, which is one of the catchiest on the album and one of the few songs that take the foot off the gas pedal. Nevertheless, 'Helvegr' also spreads very vicious vibes, which is mainly due to the jangly vocals of Nag, who here has a wide range of vocal ranges for Tsjuder. Apart from that, the other songs tend into the same fast direction, 'Chaos Fiend' with the loading sound of a revolver makes a throwback into the 90s where almost every evil band used this sound, nice gimmick! Also the typical Tsjuder melodies shine up here and it is just fun to listen to this speed inferno. But as I said, don't expect any big new things in their songs.
In summary, it can be said that Tsjuder have outdone themselves with Helvegr. Be it in terms of the catchiness that they display in places, but also in terms of the viciousness and speed of the songs. If the last two albums were already really good (whereas Desert Northern Hell always represented the opus magnum for me up to this point), the new album now perhaps represents the "Reign In Blood" of their career and for me it is the black metal album of the year. Everything is just right here - song length, compositions and the production. You can't make a better black metal album. Hail Dieselsatan!
Rating: 10 out of 10