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Album Of The Month January 2008
Helrunar | ‘Baldr Ok Iss’

The quality control over at Lupus Lounge can be relied upon time and again to make sure only the best underground metal is let through its doors. Ushered in quite literally from the label’s own back yard, Helrunar have now come of age with an album of supreme confidence and mood that not only equals the label’s current heroes, but betters them.

Those heroes are of course Secrets Of The Moon. The influence on here is palpable, as you might expect from two bands sharing a close proximity in terms of scene, label and filing bracket. Though that band’s last album was hailed far and wide, I’d go so far as to suggest that this is the album it should and could have been, had they not gone nuts for Celtic Frost.

Helrunar have taken all their compatriots best elements and done better with them. This album is seriously fast, for example, injecting a real sense of grim determination into the proceedings. When they slow down their chugging is properly paced, well controlled, epic, and never plodding. Best of all however is the tonal debt this album owes to the likes of ‘Bergtatt’ and ‘Frost’; BM classics whose respective pastoral and icy spirits aren’t recalled nearly enough these days.

It’s stirring, confident and enormously capable. Just check out the savage speed of ‘Iss’, or their nods to pre-vegetative state Agalloch on ‘Baldr’, where solemn acoustic slams into raging, Drudkh style black metal with neither apology nor grace. It’s just an amazing performance. Helrunar have taken traditional black metal and slapped the face of its laziness and boring conceits; so it’s up to you to get your arse down the shops and buy this hugely rewarding album by way of thanks.

4.7 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 06/01/08

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