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Einherjer – North Star

Einherjer
North Star
by Eric Poulin at 30 March 2021, 6:34 AM

EINHERJER is a Viking metal band based out of Haugesund, Rogaland, Norway, formed back in 1993. This is their ninth full-length album entitled “North Star” released on Napalm Records on February 26th, 2021. My history with this band goes a very long way. I recall hearing one of their songs on a compilation of obscure black and Viking metal in the late 1990s and I could tell that this band had a unique sound even back then. I then purchased their amazing album “Odin Owns Ye All” which was more of a blend of traditional metal, power metal with viking themes and influences.

This is their first album since the all-Norwegian sung “Norrøne spor” from 2018. “The Blood and the Iron” starts this album with some melodic death metal aspects to it, somewhat akin to AMON AMARTH but with the added folkloric aspects. The vocals are completely different from the latter with Grimar’s trademark shrieking. The song is definitely a lot catchier than the previous album which took a few listens to grasp and appreciate. We even get some iron sound effects in the drums for added measure.

“Stars” follows a different path with some electronic effects and seems fitting for a video game soundtrack with its trippy introduction. Add some traditional tribal drum patterns with some throbbing bass lines and you have a slow and groovy number. To my knowledge, this is the first time we hear the bass instrument so well in one of their songs, which is an interesting change. The added keyboards that are almost of a progressive nature are also different from their previous releases. The song has a great main rhythm guitar riff that reminded me a lot of ENSLAVED on their later albums. When the song speeds up a bit, it channels some traditional metal (even with some added solos) and the part fits in perfectly.

“West Coast Groove” has a rather distinct distortion in the guitars and are more hard-rock in their structure and sound. This is more like a stripped-down version of DIMMU BORGIR. There has been a trend in Norway to have these retro-rock bands and this shares some of those qualities. If OLD MAN’S CHILD decided to write an ode to MOTORHEAD, this is probably what it would sound like. I am not certain if the band wants this song as a single, but I am sure it would attract a lot of attention.

“Ascension” has a bit more progressive elements in it, not only in how the instruments sound, but its cleaner tone. The musicianship on this number is really impressive, especially in the first 2 minutes. The song slows down considerably thereafter and has some gothic metal undertones (think MOONSPELL). The transitions are smooth and the chorus part sounds like something COVENANT (later THE KOVENANT) would have written 25 years ago (when they were still a black metal project).

The second half of the album has some very strong moments as well including “Higher Fire” which reminded me a lot of the song “Remember Tokk”, an incredibly catchy riff, even if it is simple and repeated quite a bit. The song is compact and straight to the point, a sure live setting favorite. The band shows off their abilities in the doom variety with the slow grinder (at least the first part of the song) that is “Listen to the Graves”, quite the journeyman’s tale that turns into a mid-tempo thrash number, mixing again rock guitars with some black metal picking.

One thing this band has always mastered in the past is how to close off an album with an epic song, and if these guys were ever to produce their own “Heaven and Hell”, it would be “Chasing the Serpent”. I make that comparison as both songs share a similar speed, but the song uses some clean vocals in the chorus. I cannot see this song not being a crowd-pleaser at some point when live concerts resume.

I had not listened to one of their records in over 3 years and I have to say I am really impressed at how the band have included different layers and influences on this album from hard rock, progressive metal, folk, death metal and black metal. The songs themselves switch seamlessly from one genre to another and the flow between the songs is perfect. If you missed the band singing in English and wanted to see how the band would change musically since their last effort, you will highly appreciate this release.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Blood and the Iron
2. Stars
3. West Coast Groove
4. Ascension
5. Higher Fire
6. Echoes in Blood
7. Listen to the Graves
8. Chasing the Serpent
Lineup:
Ulvar - Drums, Keyboards
Grimar - Vocals, Bass
Ole Sønstabø - Guitars (Lead)
Tom Enge – Guitars
Record Label: Napalm Records
     


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