Released: 1999, Native North Records
HIDDEN GEM SELECTION
Einherjer formed in 1993 with the original idea to combine heavy metal with Norse mythology. So yes, they are from Norway, the small town of Haugesund, to be exact which is located on the western coast of the country. As a result the band labels themselves “Viking Metal.” Since this may be the first time many of you have heard the name Einherjer, I figured your first question (like mine was) would be “What is an Einherjer?” Here is the definition the band provides: “The name Einherjer is taken from the Norse mythology, Einherjer is a Vikings life after death. When a Viking was slain in battle, he was brought up to Valhalla by the Valkyries, for then to join the army of Einherjers and help the Gods in their clash against the Giants in the age of Ragnarok.” Cool or what?
NORWEGIAN NATIVE ART was released on Native North Records, the bands own label. Prior to this the band was signed to Century Media records. The two parted ways in 1999. I haven’t YET heard all of the Einherjer albums, so I can’t compare their latest to their past work except for DRAGONS OF THE NORTH (1996) and to their live performance which I also have had the pleasure of witnessing. Out of the two, their live performance was the best…. lets say brilliant! If you can ever see them live, do so!!! DRAGONS OF THE NORTH is recommended but I have a slight preference for this album since it is more polished and because in 1998 a new vocalist joined Einherjer - Ragnar Vikse. Ragnar’s vocals are raw yet bridge the space between “singing” and a black metal roar perfectly. Imagine the vocals in Sentenced only one-step up on the raw/heaviness scale. Musically the band takes traditional metal (for example Manowar) and mixes it with black metal and folk melodies. The end result is a unique band, one whom I find it hard to draw many parallels. The music of Vintersorg can be compared to some small degree and chances are both bands have a similar fan base. Onto the highlights of NORWEGIAN NATIVE ART, the album opens with “Wyrd of the Dead.” The keyboards in this one add nice backing sounds without overpowering the guitars. In places the keys mixed with the guitars reminded me of Nightwish – not in terms of the tempo (Nightwish are much faster) or the vocals of course!! “Doomfaring” is a slightly heavier, double kick drum driven track on which producer Andy La Rocque (King Diamond) contributes a solo. “Hugin’s Eyes” is a catchy track with slight hints of black/death metal. “Crimson Rain” is another of the highlights and without doubt has the strongest chorus on the album. It’s one of those rhythmic, bounce-along, fist pumping, choruses that will get ensnared in your head for days!! This one also features some very nice piano sections through the song. “Howl Ravens Come” has parts that sound close in style to power metal. A slight change of the vocal style would easily make this sound like a power metal band. The solo section in this song begs mentioning as well…excellent melody. “Draconian Umpire” is the first time on the album where we hear Ragnar’s clean vocals…finally! There are also clean guitar parts in this one. Overall this one had a more traditional metal feel. The album closer “Regicide” takes the cake for me as the albums climax. Clean vocals are again found on this song that are sung in a deep melodic voice not too far removed from Vintersorg. The backing female vocals combined with Ragar’s voice are magnificent! Too bad this vocal style didn’t show up elsewhere on the CD. The song also has a lot more in the way of keys and orchestration.
Hopefully, if you haven’t heard this band, your interest has now been heightened! If so, drop over to the official Einherjer website at http://www.einherjer.com
where they have information on the band and lots of MP3’s to check out!