Norway’s Einherjer were a band I always meant to check out, but never got around to back in the late 90’s. With all the big releases that were popping up left and right back then, it was hard to keep up in the days before the Internet, and with me being a young’n with limited funds and no means to check out bands save for issues of Metal Maniacs, I was thrown out of the loop on many groups, Einherjer among them. After disbanding in 2004 and regrouping in 2008, they’ve been steadily leaving their mark in the realm of all things Viking, releasing 2011’s Norrøn and today’s helping, Av Oss, For Oss. So what have I missed in the last decade of all things Einherjer?
Simply put, just strong workmanlike mid-paced metal, nothing more, nothing less. After a long, symphonic intro, “Hammer I Kors” gallops along like a Viking Iron Maiden circa Piece of Mind, minus twin guitar melodies and with the addition of guitarist Grimar’s throaty rasps. And is that cowbell I hear? Yep, Ulvar’s drumming is what keeps the song energetic and interesting with his choice of percussive fills and thick, heavy pummeling. A couple of tasty leads later, and the song closes out. So far, so good.
“Good,” in fact, is the word I would use to describe Av Oss, For Oss. In other words, it’s not jawdroppingly phenomenal, but it’s also not bad either. It sits in a comfortable rhythm throughout the album’s entirety. “Nornene” has some incredibly strong clean vocals in the chorus to match Grimar’s screaming, and guitarist Aksel Herløe has some good melodies to follow up the strong rhythm patterns created by Grimar and Ulvar.
Elsewhere, “Nord og Ner” has a simple-but driving backdrop, easily the most rock-and-roll-sounding song on the entire album, guaranteed to get heads banging and fists pumping towards Valhalla. The closing title track could use a bit of editing (translated: shave off a minute or three), but even then, there’s some really good melodies to be had there as well.
But, for all the good the album has, the one big flaw Av Oss, For Oss contains is that the songs all go at almost the same tempo, feeling like one big, long song with little variance. A few more tempo shifts would have done wonders in to make the album (and Einherjer as a whole) stand out in a sea of Nordic metallers. On the production side, Grimar did a good job making the guitars and bass all nice and beefy, and giving the drums a huge thunderous feel, even with the mix being robbed of much-needed dynamics and quieter sound. Those cymbals do hurt a bit, though.
While not mind-blowing, Av Oss, For Oss was an enjoyable introduction to the stylings of Einherjer for me. While not the go-to band for my Viking fix (that would be Borknagar, for you folks at home), I was quite happy with how Av Oss, For Oss turned out. Now to catch up with their back catalog…