The name helrunar refers to pagan oriented occultists that practice rune magic. They started out playing epic black metal, but after Dionysus
quit in two thousand eight their style had changed somewhat. So he may have been a key songwriter. In twenty eleven they released a pair of albums called Sol
I and Sol
II. But Apple music has it consolidated as one unit, with fifteen tracks and lasting for ninety three minutes. In my opinion that album didn’t rock out so good, because two thirds of the songs were slow and wearisome compositions. The better third rocked out with a bit more energy at a medium tempo and sounded something like Gorgoroth
. Then their twenty fifteen album, Niederkunfft
, rocked out more reliably. It came across like Koldbrann
crossed with Necronoclast
. This recent release is entitled Vanitas Vanitatvm
. Google translator identifies it as Latin for ‘vanity vanities’. Which comes in a cardboard digipack and the album art shows a nude woman, with the dark figure of a warlock in the background. The lyrics are in the German language as usual.
Vocalist Marcel Dreckmann, AKA ‘Skald
Draguir’, has been with the band since their two thousand three demo. He is the recognizable character with the short Mohawk haircut and short goatee. Among his side projects is Arstidir Lifsins
, which released a new album four weeks ago. He growls and screams using a rich grim voice, often with vicious ferocity. Skald
makes the most of his role like a good actor, by switching his tones to keep your attention. The backup vocals often sound as sinister as a legion of demons or sometimes shriek for a haunting ambience. The second song, Saturnvs, starts with a heavy yet epic guitar riff played at a slow tempo. The bassist chugs heavily along with hard drum beats to dramatize the presentation. Then the instrumentation shifts into a faster gear, with midrange grinding rhythms, as the vocalist grimly growls out his lyrics. About halfway in the music switches to a choppy rhythm with heavy bass slashes, as the guitarist picks out mysterious licks.
Korkemeier AKA Alsvartr
is the guitarist for the band. He often plays fast grinding at the midrange notes and Scandinavian styled high note grinding to provide some chilling effects. There also is a lot of European styled folk picking and fast ornamental riffs. Occasionally there are short interludes with dramatic acoustic guitar music. Sometimes the guitar leads are eerie and haunting with dark atmospheres. The fourth track, Blutmond
, abruptly takes off with a fast paced thrashing riff. It alternates tones with the same structure for an aesthetic quality. An eerie guitar melody soon cuts in, that sounds similar to one that is played in a recent Dimmu Borgir
song; Council of Wolves and Snakes. Then it reverts back to the original series of thrash riffs and the vocalist angrily bellows out his lines, alternating his tones for emphasis. Soon the composition progresses to a diabolical grinding rhythm, with an explosive intensity.
The seventh number, In Eis
und Nacht, rips right out with an intricate guitar melody at a high velocity. The high note grinding has a cold Norwegian flair, as the bass music chugs at midrange notes the drums are beaten hard with shuffling patterns. Skald
Draguir lashes out the lyrics with a catchy lilt and soon switches to a guttural presentation, accentuated by demonic backup vocals. Then about halfway in there is an explosive outburst with crusty guitar work, as the bassist chops out an ominous rhythm. Alsvartr
is the member who appears in the photos with the long blonde hair and he also performs the bass music. The bass presentations often blend in with the guitar music at the midrange notes. But it also gives some of the compositions some extra jolts with strong power chords. There are some robust midrange lines with coarse textures and occasional chunky rhythms. Sometimes the lower notes are plucked along with the bass drums for added power.
The tenth song, Necropolis, starts out with forty five seconds worth of slow acoustic guitar picking. Then it gradually comes alive with heavy bass chugging, hard drum beats and quick guitar hooks. The vocalist commandeers the mood with his rough and throaty rants. Then the bass music moves the rhythm by alternating notes that climb upward from midrange, as the guitarist plays an ominous melody with some stutter textures. Soon the pace picks up with some dynamic riff shifting and powerful bass lines. Alsvartr
has been with the band since two thousand one and is the founding member. Throughout this tenure he has been the drummer and only performed the stringed instruments after the departure of Dionysus
in two thousand eight. He often beats along and chimes the cymbals, harder or softer, to add some depth depending on the intensity of the compositions. Sometimes there are shuffling patterns and short drum rolls. At other times he suddenly switches over the beat tone patterns for more emphasis and to keep the songs more interesting.
is epic in an old rustic fashion of pagan ways, although the textures are very versatile. There is a lot of dynamic straight forward black metal that sounds similar to Koldbrann
. But there are also chilling atmospheres played at a fast pace resembling Svartsyn
. A few of tracks rock out with evil headbanging melodies exhibiting an explosiveness like Khold
, which adds to the excitement of this album. The drum performances were effective, but could have been better with more artistic flair. The title track was a dull and boring instrumental, although it only lasted for two minutes and thirty six seconds. The first and last songs were humdrum violin pieces performed by a guest musician. But the remaining nine tracks were very good and it looks like the duo has found the right knack for songwriting. Dionysus
was one of the band’s main composers and Baldr Ok Iss was his last album with the group. Vanitas Vanitatvm
is a lot better than Sol
and a couple of notches better than Niederkunfft
. They have rediscovered their epic angle to black metal and this is their best album since Frostnacht