Helheim – WoduridaR Review

I’ve given Helheim so many introductions over the years, that I don’t even know what to say anymore. But, with each review,1 I introduce at least a couple of you low-lives to the band. And, I’ve said it before, Helheim is one of the most underrated Viking outfits out there. Though one could say Bathory were the pioneers of the sound, Helheim grabbed it up and ran with it. And they’ve been doing it for thirty fucking years. And, since their debut full-length in 1995, they really are one of the most prolific bands in all metal. That’s why in my “short” time at AMG, I’ve reviewed them as many times as I have. It also means, for those new to the band, you have a lot of catching up to do. But don’t fret, no matter where you begin in the discography, you’re going to find something you like. See, Helheim doesn’t write bad albums. Some are solid and some are infuckingcredible. The only question we have to ask ourselves is where this year’s WoduridaR fits in the mix.

The problem with this style of black/Viking metal is that it’s expected to be big and atmospheric these days. What many bands do, including Helheim, is pack on the pounds. The result is that songs are rather progressive, lengthy, and change moods and direction frequently. In lots of cases, bands trade in their blackened rasps for clean vox and add epicness with orchestration. It’s not always the case, but it does happen a lot. Twenty-nineteen’s Rignir saw Helheim experiment a lot—filling songs with mostly clean vocals and simplifying their riffs into headbangable memorability. While it was a fresh take on their style, it felt rather one-dimensional. That said, anyone would have a hard time topping the mighty duo of raunijaR and landawarijaR. Unfortunately, to do that would need even more epic qualities than the two albums combined. WoduridaR gives it a go, focusing heavily on the various moods. What you get is a much more aggressive and sinister release than they’ve done in some time.

“Vilje av stål” uses misleading volume control to tempt you into cranking the knob before dropping on your head like a cinderblock. This piece is nasty and old-school with melodic transitions firmly set in an Enslaved manner. The song struggles between being aggressive and melodic, driving through a kickass guitar solo and ending with the cleans and rasps crashing into each other. “Litil vis maðr” meets the chaotic nature of the opener, but ventures further into the melodic side of the Helheim sound. This piece, along with “Åndsfilosofen,” also delves deep into the dark and sinister. “Litil vis maðr” uses anxiety-building riffs from Enslaved‘s Ruun and RIITIIR, while “Åndsfilosofen” adds booming Celtic Frost strikes. Both show some standout bass and drum work that pounds and snaps the songs’ tortured souls.

Then, there are those tracks packed to the gills with riffs and moods. “Tankesmed” is more song than is possible in a five-and-a-half-minute run. Hell, it’s almost like it’s two songs in one. After filling your ears with classic Helheim Viking moods, it passes by a ’70s-rock-inspired solo straight into a tension-building riff. When it breaks, the song is completely different than when it started. But, closer “Det kommer i bølger” takes a different approach. Clocking in at twelve minutes, this piece is a Bathory-loving Viking beauty. While the other tracks on the album use plenty of rasps, the closer is almost entirely acoustic and clean. It’s simple, has great flow, and is so well-crafted that its twelve minutes feel like four.

My biggest complaint with Rignir was that it lost a lot of that engulfing character displayed in most of Helheim‘s catalog. Which I can understand to an extent. I don’t know how much dedication, heart, and sweat goes into maintaining this standard for so many years. Deviations and the need to simplify things are only natural. But, Helheim is never without character. They can still rope you into portions of the album. And, that’s how I can best describe WoduridaR. It doesn’t make me hold my breath the entire time. Unfortunately, there are songs and parts of songs that break the flow or flounder. But, most of WoduridaR works, and the mix is just lovely. So, as I say every time I review this band: if you’re a fan, this new release is definitely worth checking out.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Dark Essence Records
Websites: helheim.bandcamp.com | helheim.com | facebook.com/helheimnorway
Releases Worldwide: October 29th, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. This will be the fourth time I’ve reviewed this Norwegian foursome.
« »