Released: 2009, Gardarika Musikk
Reviewer: Robert Williams
Hailing from the Netherlands are Hellebaard who have just released their fourth full length album entitled FIER through Gardarika Mussik. FIER opens with "Hellebaard" Being that the lyrics are sung in Dutch or possibly German (I'm not entirely sure) all I can tell you is that a Hellebaard or "Halberd" is a medieval weapon that looks like a combination of a double axe and a spear. Translated literally, hellebaard is 'hell's beard'. (Thanks metal-archives.com)
"Hellebaard" wears a little thin on my patience though. Not sure if it is Zarlack or Volmorth singing on this track as they are both credited with performing vocals, but whoever is doing vocals on this ultra repetitive track is absolutely intolerable. The band is labeled black metal, but this is not a screech nor is it a squawk. The vocals are delivered with a belligerent, throaty shouting approach that often cracks in pitch mid sentence.
Drums are programmed badly on this release. With the technology of today it could be argued that black metal bedroom recordings could sound as convincing as the real deal provided the right drum replacement software/hardware is used. This is not the case with Hellebaard as this is totally the 1992 "Casio Sampler Special" back for the attack.
Maybe there is a different vocalist on "Bloedbroeders" as this track isn't as caustic vocally as the first two. This track is pretty atmospheric with its slow prodding riffing and use of minimalist synths.
Another problem I have with this disc is the way they use the keyboards. The keys are way too high in the mix and often a badly synthesized violin or timpani will jump out of nowhere destroying any previous build in atmosphere the band had been working at.
"De Eeuwige Strijdvelden" juxtaposes between slow and primitive sounding and then without rhyme or reason hyperblasts in momentum. "Ravenklauw" builds in terms of dynamics for the better part of a minute and a half on guitar and synthesized timpani before picking up into a triumphant galloping riff. This one's not half bad I suppose.
The album comes to an end with "Letum" an instrumental performed entirely on keyboards/synth that has a fine medieval delivery.
Let the hammer fall for final judgment on this one. Hellebaard obviously paid their dues in terms of the amount of time it would take any two individuals to compose and perform forty-five minutes of music found in FIER. You could also say that both Zarlack and Volmorth are very skilled musicians who demonstrate their respective playing abilities on this disc. Now, having said that, I would strongly recommend bringing in a new vocalist to the band. I would suggest varying tempos between songs as much of the material up for offer here is indistinguishable from the previous or next track. Hellebaard needs to recruit a seasoned drummer or update their method for recording drum samples, and last but not least, in fact very importantly I should say, Hellebaard should strongly reconsider littering their metal with so many noodly keyboard interludes often placed in the middle of a track killing any previous momentum.