Ereb Altor is a band I’ve reviewed more than almost any other since joining the AMG metal collective in 2010. They’re a prolific bunch and stick to a regular release schedule despite also releasing albums under the moniker Isole, and their material is consistently good if not great. Ulfven is their newest release, following 2016s Blot Ilt Taut which was a series of Bathory covers. This was appropriate as Quorthon has always been the wellspring from which the band draws their inspiration. They started life as an epic Viking metal act trying to recreate Quorthon’s genre defining Hammerheart opus, and though they’ve tweaked their sound in minor ways over time, they still sound like a mighty hammerheart beats in their chests. Ulfven is their latest attempt to fuse old school first wave black metal with epical Viking chants and hymnals, and as with most of their releases, it works more often than not with occasional moments of trve brilliance and Norse fury.

After a spoken word introduction in Swedish, “En Synd Svart Som Sot” crashes ashore with heavy mid-tempo riffing and militaristic percussion. Clean sung vocals lead the charge, approximating olden age hymns to good effect. The song has a bigger-than-life grandiose feel and it’s definitely the direct descendant of what Quorthon wrought back in the early 90s. This is Ereb Altor firing on all Viking cylinders and it makes for rabble rousing music, sounding like a heavier, more warlike Tyr. “Av Blod Ar Jag Kommen” and especially “The Rite of Kraka” delve deeper into Bathory worship with aggressive black metal raging along like Blood Fire Death era material, and though it’s always well-executed and enjoyable, this is where Ereb Altor tends to sound the least engaging to my ears.

It’s their bigger, more bombastic set pieces, complete with the clean, up-to-Valhalla chanting, that always bring the mead to the table. This element just adds something essential to the compositions, and when the band forgoes the clean singing, the music generally suffers. Fortunately, this side of the band is well-represented on cuts like “Wolfcurse,” Ulfven,” “Glepinir,” and especially the mammoth ten-minute closer “Bloodline.” The latter in particular feels like what you’d be hearing as you marched stoically over the Rainbow Bridge to greet Wotan and Thor and join their army of immortals. As it spins, you can’t help sitting up straighter and looking around for an age-old foe to test your northern steel against. This is Ereb Altor at peak badass, and “Bloodline” is a definite contender for Song o’ the Year. Sadly, they’ve always struggled to maintain this extra high level over an entire album, and such is the case here as well.

Worth noting is the above-average production and sound. Though nominally a black metal opus. Ulfven doesn’t go in for the usual crap-tastical production, offering instead a deep, fairly dynamic and warm sonic tapestry which allows the epic scope of the material to shine brightly. I especially like the snap and pop of the drums and the low-end thud on the heavier tracks.

Yours truly clearly favors the material with the epic hymns and passages, and as usual Mats does a great job with these throughout Ulfven. They sit well over the heavy riffing and especially complement the plodding, doomy passages where the music feels bigger than Techno-Jesus. He has a great tone, melodic yet rough and unpolished, and he brings a real sense of emotion and sincerity to his delivery. These clean segments make the blackened cackles and death croaks feel way more impactful whenever they join the fray and add a whole other level to the material. The guitar-work by Mats and Ragnar is solid, with some stellar riffs that convey a real sense of enormity and grandeur. There are also some truly beautiful moments, as on the closing minutes of “Bloodline.” However, when they drift too far down the old school Bathory rabbit hole, things can get a bit less engaging and overly simplistic.

As with the past few releases, Ereb Altor unveils an album with a few high-level odes to the distant past, full of emotion, power and glory, and the remainder is good but somewhat less essential. If they ever write an entire album on the same plane as “Bloodline,” Earth will enter a new Viking age and steel will be the new bitcoin. Until that fateful day, you can count on these guys to throw a helluva keg party on the burning, bloodstained shores of conquest. Hails, horns, hobbits.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Hammerheart Records
Websites: erebaltor.comerebaltor.bandcamp.comfacebook.com/erebaltorofficial
Releases Worldwide: July 21st, 2017

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  • Martinvandamage

    G’day snowflakes!
    Yet another obscure band review, maybe if you played nice instead of pretending to be oh so witty then labels would let you review bands people have heard of. Never mind I’m sure the 12 of you can comment on how great the review was regardless of the music……

    • Dudeguy Jones

      A+ commenting.

    • Interesting….

    • GardensTale

      He’s convinced me, Steel. Let’s start rating on a 3.5-5 out of 5 scale and suck up to the labels in 300 words or less. Maybe we can just copy-paste from Metal Wani and Metal Temple? I mean, who cares about integrity when you can do the same thing 20 other sites are doing, right? And it’s not like our substantial returning readership is here for the honest, high quality and in-depth writing. We’ll do MUCH better reviewing only the big albums which we were already reviewing anyway. Genius!

      • None of that will work unless we also stop pretending to be witty.

        • GardensTale

          We’ll just have to stop pretending and start being truly witty.

        • Ferrous Beuller

          I didn’t sign up for that.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          STOP PRETENDING TO BE WITTY!!!

          • NEVER!!

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Hell, I just realized you don’t have to stop pretending to be witty. You have to stop pretending being OH SO WITTY!

      • The Akerstache

        You know, you already have the perfect template.

        Just copy’n’paste any Happy Metal Guy classic (while changing a couple key phrases for “integrity”) and boom! Profit!

    • The Akerstache

      You sound like someone who reads Metalsucks unironically.

    • Grymm

      How are you enjoying the upcoming Today is the Day biography?

      • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

        That’s what I remember this guy from! What a champ.

    • Serjien

      If you are going to complain about something, it has to be that the website’s background picture hasn’t been updated yet!! Then, you would have a valid complaint.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        They left the sidebars intact for me to complain about it. Right, Steely D?

        • Of course!

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I know I haven’t complained enough… Sorry ’bout that.

    • Panagiotis Krokidas

      “…would let you review bands people have heard of…”

      In times like these, I cannot tell who is trolling and who happens to be at the wrong place. Let’s go for the second:

      What are you talking about man? Here is angrymetalguy. We come to get angrier and more metal. Wisdom only can be found in these halls. Well, and the far cries of those wondering and are never to find the exit. They are doomed to listen to metal until their ears bleed and learn a lesson not to dwell to places unknown.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I humbly suggest that when AMG stops pretending to be oh so witty and then labels finally ALLOW them to review band people have heard of, AMG must hire Martinvandamage to write such reviews. And I mean a real, top dollar paying job.

    • Nukenado

      Aren’t you that guy who hates hamsters?

    • Ironwood_Druid

      Top kek. Good troll, sir!

    • Pagliacci is Kvlt

      Ereb Altor is obscure?

  • Malhorne

    Hi, first comment here, despite lurking for some time!
    I really do like what you are doing on this website: being honest about music and not giving ratings based on names!
    Great review again Steel!

    Thanks guys for your work and keep rocking!

    • Thanks, Malhorne. Great to hear from you and thanks for your readership.

      • Malhorne

        Just wondering what are your favorite albums of Ereb Altor? I only checked them a while ago and did not look through much of their discography. Could be the time to check a bit more of their work!

        • My favorites by far are By Honour and The End, though Gastrike is up there too.

          • Malhorne

            Thanks!

    • GardensTale

      HI MAL

      • Malhorne

        HI GARDENS

  • Andres Pintos Nocerino

    i love it

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    Ereb Altor Ulfven
    Schlemiel! Schlimazel!
    Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!

    • This should not have happened.

      • Ivan E. Rection

        Give us any rule, we’ll break it.

        • Grymm

          We’re gonna make our dreams come true… DOING IT OUR WAY.

    • Thatguy

      I don’t know what this means but I’m voting it up anyway.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        What the hell, I’m upvoting it too!
        Isn’t Schlimazel a thin cutlet of veal, dipped in batter and fried?

  • Chris Benadie

    All I know is, when a review scores from a 3 up here it’s worth checking out…..and when it’s a 4 and higher, you get it yesterday. Listening to the thirteenth sun right now, and the review was spot on, like the impure wilhemina one

    • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

      How are you liking Stardust? I haven’t seen it mentioned recently, but so far it’s AotY for me personally, at least until I hear both parts of Xanthochroid’s new release finally.

      That said, I generally don’t buy a lot of new music in a year either, so there’s that.

      • Chris Benadie

        Think it’s great. Definitely one of the top releases of the year so far. I’ll check out Xanthochroid

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Talk about two sides of a coin… Look at the awesome comments we got today from Malhorne and Martinvandamage.

  • VikingSchism

    This is a style in metal that I love very much, and I’m glad I checked this album out, I’m going to have to give the rest of their discography a listen as well. Maybe it’s even time for me to get round to listening to Hammerheart (I know, shocking that I haven’t listened to it yet)

    • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

      *monocle drops to floor, shatters*

      Hammerheart and Twilight of the Gods are two of my top favorites. Please don’t neglect them, they are the fathers of this style.

      • Feytalist

        You seem to have left out Nordland I.

        I’m sure that was an honest mistake :D

    • Leave the hall (to go listen to Hammerheart immediately).

      • VikingSchism

        I’m listening to it right now, and wondering how on earth I left it this long

  • Levly

    I agree that the band is consistently stronger in their epic clean sung anthems and somewhat less interesting in the Black Metal bits, but I wish they included more strategically placed growls and BM riffing on their more epic numbers for a full package of Viking glory. That’s why I quite like Gleipnir on this record, although the vocal melodies are stronger on better tracks like Ulfven and Bloodline.

    Anyway, awesome band and great review as always!

  • Erick Ribeiro

    This is a great site to find new bands and new “old” bands, and Ereb Altor is one of those bands.

    Thanks from Brazil…

  • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

    “If they ever write an entire album on the same plane as ‘Bloodline,’ Earth will enter a new Viking age and steel will be the new bitcoin.”

    I for one would welcome our new viking overlords. Until they destroyed my house and stole all my shit.

    Also the embedded track was actually pretty solid, good melody going on. I could jam to this regularly.

  • Anarchist

    Hey Steel, what are your thoughts on the new Pentakill track with Jorn Lande?

  • sir_c

    I did enjoy the embedded track. I forgot I had this band in my archive. Thanks for relighting the fire!