Released: 2009, Lupus Lounge
I’m no great shakes on the whole folk/pagan black metal scene at all, but I never got the impression that many of its protagonists hailed from Germany at all. Well, here’s one at least: Helrunar, a three-piece from Munster, Germany.
GRATR was Helrunar’s debut album back in 2003 with an initial print run of 500 copies. Regarded as their best album so far, and due to its immense popularity among the band’s fans, Lupus Lounge and Prophecy Productions (Negura Bunget, Geist, Secrets of the Moon) and the band have decided to re-release the album, with the first 3,000 copies in digipak form with a bonus CD.
They play a stifling oppressive form of orthodox black metal spiced up with folk-ish elements which retain a distinctly Finnish flavour – I’m reminded of the mighty Moonsorrow a lot, although the Finns are obviously a lot more overt with their symphonic and progressive style. But the atmosphere of frost and ice and ancient gods is still intensely pervasive, and the epic feel is not least due to the really good production value. With whispered and spoken passages occasionally scattered around the album and acoustic interludes making infrequent appearances, it’s thankfully not all blast scream blast scream.
If you really dig your Darkthrone, Immortal, Absu and Blut Aus Nord but want something slightly more a la a more stripped down Moonsorrow and Primordial, you probably won’t go far wrong with Helrunar.