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Bloodshed Walhalla – Second Chapter

Bloodshed Walhalla
Second Chapter
by Leanne Evans at 23 June 2021, 5:31 PM

Born in 2006, Italian Viking metal outfit BLOODSHED WALHALLA is the brainchild of Drakhen, a multifaceted musician and vocalist. Influenced by the Viking metal era of Quorthon, and his band BATHORY, Drakhen created BLOODSHED WALHALLA to channel the darkened Norse vibe of BATHORY through unapologetic overt imitation, especially since the band’s roots derive as a tribute band to continue the Swedish Sensei’s work. BLOODSHED WALHALLA’s sixth LP release comes in the form of “Second Chapter”, a welcome continuation from the previous full-length “Ragnarok”. With three demos, two EP’s and a clutch of albums, BLOODSHED WALHALLA return to relive epic tales from much-loved Norse mythology in the hope of keeping Quorthon’s Scandinavian spirit alive in the darkened anthems of “Second Chapter”.

The grandiosity commences in the ostentatious opening track, “Reaper”, at an extensive 28:20 minutes in length – each track exceeding the fifteen-minute mark – setting the tone from the outset of a Herculean aural exploration. In some respects, it’s exciting that BLOODSHED WALHALLA should choose to showcase its work in this manner, especially with the welcome touch that each track is a narrative, within a narrative. However, the lengthy tracks can feel a little exhaustive, although there is many a genre nuance to fascinate the listener, but oft lacks variation in tone and substance, drawing on the monotonous, morphing the enticing to the bland.

The opening composition pulls influence in a traditional black style, morphing to a pagan feel as the track continues, offering the unnerving atmospheric, through to an empowering dominance. Interwoven with BATHORY and FALKENBACH influence, this piece encapsulates the enticement of delicious black metal darkness, merged with a folk feel and power element, all layered with symphonic build-up of keys and a dark shroud of bass. The dissonance of the minor key later in the piece creates a sense of endurance for the plight of entering Ragnarok; there really is plenty of formulaic genius for an epic piece, but one can’t help but feel that this verges on the prolonged, as opposed to the grandiose.

Advancing to the second, shorter track, “Hermòðr” captivates with a softer, lilting ballad style riff to open, producing an almost provocative intro. The escalation to a heavier, dominant tone through pained, penetrating rasped vocals, and well-timed blast beats, melded with crisp choral tones is easy on the ear, and a wash of well-placed drum lines delights, and the folksy feel is akin to a warm embrace. It’s a pleasant listen, but an unnecessarily long one. A similar feel comes from “The Prey”, which cleverly conveys an intimidating stance, bounding in with assertion and intoxicating double-kick drumming, thrusting plenty of sonic certitude. Again, the duration of this piece just feels too drawn, producing a somewhat wearisome work rather than a wow-inducing wonder.
Despite the unnecessary and substantial durations of the tracks, the talent of Drakhen is inescapable, as seen again in “After the End”, a fittingly boisterous finale to “Second Chapter”. Whilst there isn’t an abundance of virtuosity within the LP, the simplistic structure is well-thought and it works, making it all the more frustrating that the unwarranted ten minutes or so to each piece doesn’t enhance the listening experience. With a more condensed approach to the cuts, this could certainly be an enjoyable album.

“Second Chapter” has fantastic potential and respect is well-deserved for creating a collection of compositions that pay homage to the pioneer of Viking metal. As a personal tribute to the continuation of keeping the legacy of Quorthon alive, it’s great, and certainly fans of BATHORY would appreciate it. Does this release make me want to drink the blood of my enemies from their skulls and scream "Skål!"? No, it doesn’t, but I’m not sure that was ever the intention of BLOODSHED WALHALLA’S newest release. Would “Second Chapter” be a pleasant accompaniment to wind down to after an exhausting Viking raid? Most probably.

Songwriting:   7
Musicianship:  8
Memorability:  6
Production:     8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Reaper
2. Hermòðr
3. The Prey
4. After the End
Lineup:
Drakhen - All instruments and vocals performed by Drakhen
Record Label: Hellbones Records
     


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