heimdalls-wacht_geisterseherFor black metal songwriters in search of strong conceptual themes, few subjects capture the imagination like the intricate folklore of European paganism. Not only are the old myths and traditions fascinating in their own right, the celebration of pre-Christian heritage is unequivocally akin to waving a big fat middle finger in the direction of modern religion – a practice firmly in line with the general ethos of the genre. Hailing from the town of Ahlen in western Germany, Heimdalls Wacht are one such band. Describing themselves rather extravagantly as ‘anti-Christian pagan musical art,’ they write hard-hitting, riff-driven black metal with a strong emphasis on pagan cultural heritage. In the 12 years they have been active, the band have written a formidable six full-length studio albums, with their seventh, Geisterseher, due for release on October 14th.

Having previously been signed up to Christhunt Productions – a somewhat notorious label known for working with a smattering of established NSBM and RAC acts, such as Absurd and TotenburgHeimdalls Wacht have at times faced accusations of harboring far-right sympathies themselves – a charge which the band strongly deny. As their vocals are delivered in German – a language which I do not speak myself – I’m unable to form an opinion as to whether or not the allegations have any grounding, however since they have now cut ties with Christhunt altogether, for the purposes of this review I’m prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt.

It doesn’t take much of an initial foray into Geisterseher to tell that a lot of effort has gone into the writing. Each track is long and meandering – only one clocks in below six minutes – and showcases formidable musicianship. While Heimdalls Wacht lack the delicate aesthetics of the likes of Winterfylleth, Fen or Wodensthrone (R.I.P.), they make up for it with a deluge of infectious riffs and hooks which have a natural, self-assured flow, punctuated with formidable drum work and some nifty tempo changes to keep the listener on their toes. Vocals predominantly arrive in the form of harsh growls and shrieks, as one might expect, however from time to time clean chants from bassist Saruman punctuate the chaos, working well more often than not.

unicorm-wine

Although Heimdalls Wacht are predominantly a black metal act, it’s clear they source inspiration from other genres and styles as well. The chugging, thrashy riffs of “Der Kommende Gott (Treffen mit Sabazios),” for example, are pure Metallica worship, and the stripped back intro to “Taedium Vitae” is eerily reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man.” As such, the influences the band apply to their music make for an engaging and unconventional record, which has the power to surprise and delight in equal measure.

This all said however, Geisterseher is far from perfect. The production is functional at best, and some of the songs do feel a bit drawn out – opener “Spökenkieker” being a prime example. Clocking in at nine minutes, it feels conspicuously overlong, with decent riffs flogged almost to death through seemingly endless repetition, and this is a bit of a pity as it’s utterly unnecessary; the track would lose nothing by being two or three minutes shorter. Additionally, although paganism evidently comprises a significant part of the band’s thematic identity, this is manifested purely lyrically, as opposed to via the use of traditional folk instrumentation. Now while I’m not suggesting they should not be writing in their mother tongue, what this does mean is that for the majority of casual listeners the whole pagan angle will likely be lost entirely, and this does seem like rather a shame.

Its flaws notwithstanding however, in Geisterseher Heimdalls Wacht have written a genuinely impressive record, and considering the startling regularity with which they are able to churn out albums, it’s clear that thought and consideration has gone into it at almost every step of the way. Setting aside the character allegations made against them and focusing purely on their music alone, they have created an engaging, varied and entertaining spin on the black metal genre, and for this at least they deserve to be commended.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Trollzorn Records
Websites: heimdallswacht.de | heimdallswacht.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: October 14th, 2016

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  • Monsterth Goatom

    Ah, and now an AMG staff breakfast scene to contrast with the one from Katla’s band photo.

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      In which solitude and alcohol consumption are just typical facets of the breakfast routine.

    • Lord Lucan

      Poor Steel Druhm keeps flipping his smartphone camera into selfie mode by mistake. He was trying to take a photo of his breakfast to upload to the Twittergram.

      • I don’t drink wine or wear oven mitts.

        • basenjibrian

          Barbarian!

          • I need socks to hold my knives and small caliber firearms.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Looks more like a sock than an oven mitt; please don’t not wear socks, Steely D!

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    “or Wodensthrone (R.I.P.),”
    are u tryin to rustle me jimmies cuz me jimmies are a’rustlin

  • AnnieK13

    Enjoyed the embedded track and mostly liked the mix of clean and growl.

  • Reese Burns

    Lots of Black Metal lately, I like it. Perfect for Autumn.

  • Tom Busler

    Getting a heavy Vreid-y-ness vibe from the embedded track. Which is enough for me to dig in deeper. I have greed for Vreid.

  • Mr T

    Reminded me of Vehemenz.

  • The Unicorn

    its uncle Ned and he is still drinking. OMG. He got so loaded at Pacers wedding he ended up fucking a moose in the lavatory. I haven’t seen him in years…

  • madhare

    Damn, this works! Based on the embedded track I mean. I’m not a black metal person at all, but this seems to be black metal only in vocal style (and possibly lyrics). Without the shrieks I wouldn’t classify this anywhere near black metal. Even the atmosphere isn’t like graveyard gloom or noise. It’s actually quite a nice energetic ass-kicker, just written in minor key. Reminds me more of good melodic death metal bands. Yummm… Maybe not the best ever, but pretty decent autumn candy.

    • Lord Lucan

      Glad you like it. Its faults notwithstanding, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable album.