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Hild - Valfreiya

by SJ Loschi at 03 December 2022, 4:18 AM

HILD’s Lars Broddesson spent several years as the drummer for second-wave black metal band MARDUK, before leaving in 2013 to dip his pock-marked fists into other creative pursuits.  His latest offering “ValFrieya,” under the moniker of HILD, was inspired by a meditative walk through the cold, distant Swedish woods of his homeland. “HILD came to life in a flash one late summer evening while walking entranced through the landscape,” Broddesson writes in his press release for the album. “I was instructed by my higher powers to head back to my studio and complete a 2-minutes song in one session.”  Those sessions became further defined by a nine-hour start-to-finish limit per song, each song based on one of the several Valkyries of Norse mythology. It’s a clever, ambitious concept, which “ValFrieya” achieves, for the most part.

The Valkyries of Norse lore were a group of female figures that were chosen to guide slain warriors back from the bloodied fields of martyrdom to the halls of Valhalla. The first valkyrie HILD introduces us to is “ValFreiya,” the impetus for Broddesson’s concept. The song is tight, angular thrash with elements of black metal and crust. The delivery is fast and relentless, with Broddesson’s vocals pushed into the red, like Lemmy on a deadly cocktail of methamphetamines, cocaine and Red Bull. These are wails of desperation, the primordial screams of a warrior on the edge of death, waiting for his final journey to Odin’s kingdom.

The land of these songs is one of fire and ice, themes that pop up over and over in Broddesson’s lyrics. “Snowfall of Hlökk in the valleys”, Broddesson growls on the album’s midpoint song “Hlökk,” “Naked freeze, jewel frost, Crystal cold, clear as glass,” a paean to the frozen taiga, the blood-soaked lands of ancient Norse battles. HILD’s metaphorical sword is held high on the track, a march-like tempo on the drums before the hardened edges of thrash emerge, only to crash down back into the death march. “Hlökk” follows the template for the dozen songs on this album. The songs are militant in feel, the soundtrack to a cold, merciless land where gods are in constant battle, but flesh and blood humans feel the pain and remorse.

Brodderson has referred to the songs on “ValFreiya” as a ‘divine assignment’.  There’s a clear connection between the spiritual experience he had in those autumn woods in Hultsfred, Sweden and the 30 minutes of cathartic, violently victorious thrash laid out by HILD.  Couple this with a nostalgic nod to the titans of speed metal that Brodderson reverently honors, and you are presented with a deeply personal album- a glimpse into one artist’s soul.  While in some ways the concept outweighs the execution, “ValFreiya” is a bold contribution to the pantheon of heavy art that has come from Sweden and her neighbors.

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

3 Star Rating

1. ValFreiya
2. Göndul
3. Wodurida
4. Hrist
5. Mist
6. Hlökk
7. Herfjötur
8. Sanngrithr
9. Skögul
10. Rota
11. Thögn
12. Thrudr
Lars Broddesson - Everything
Record Label: Odium Records


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