Gjallarhorn - Nordheim
Do you like Doomsword, Falkenbach and Enslaved? Do you also like Bathory and then especially what they did during the second half of their career? Then I am pretty sure you could appreciate Gjallarhorn also. Imagine a mix of the Bathory albums Blood On Ice, Hammerheart and Twilight Of The Gods with much better sound - there you have Gjallarhorn. Bathory and Falkenbach are stated by band as being the main influences for the musical atmosphere and for once the promotion papers are one hundred percent accurate.
The album starts right away by painting up a mighty sound landscape of battle which is maintained until the end. The songs are long and tell tales of mighty struggles in the ancient nordlands, and.....well, you know the drill. The tempo is above what you normally hear from a band in this genre, and there are a few uptempo parts here and there, which is welcomed by me since I most of the time can find it too eventless and boring listening to this kind of music due to the slow tempo and long passages between the few melodic parts, if any. In the songs Chaos Unleashed (for which I assume they have a written permission from Manowar to use the Blood Of My Enemies riff) and Ragnarok this is a nice experience. But for the most this goes in a steady grinding, almost hypnotizing, mid tempo where the feeling and the vibes and the atmosphere are the most important elements to tell the story. The quite simple riffs come second in this context and it's almost as they try to bring as little distraction as possible into the songs in form of actual melodies, distinct riffs and guitar solos (there is one solo on the album and that appears during the last few minutes). It is quite a bit abstract and dreamy in true viking style.
The resemblence with later years' Bathory is almost uncanny since the choirs, the way of building the verses, the sound and the atmosphere are basically the same. The only difference is that whereas Bathory sucked immensly due to a production from grandmas garbage disposal and vocals probably recorded at funhour at the preschool for mentally challenged, Gjallarhorn do have a decent production and an acceptable vocalist. They are still not breathtakingly good, and apperantly this music should not have that because they all go for the same sound, but still way better than much else. With this kind of sound, the Blood On Ice album by Bathory might have been quite enjoyable since the songs on that one in fact is slightly better.