Andreas (Vintersorg) Hedlund’s eponymous band has been around since 1996 and, in that time, he has not released a bad album. There was a mid period where the music went into a really proggy direction and was somewhat chaotic at times, but the songs were still strong. It’s been ten years since Vintersorg returned to form with the album Solens rötter. That album saw the band bringing the folk elements back into the songs. He also returned to singing in Swedish, his mother tongue. The three albums that came after continued in the same direction with 2014’s Naturbål being the best of those albums. So while continuing in this direction, it appears the time was right for Mr. V to create a sequel to his 1998 masterpiece debut, Till fjälls. Vintersorg’s tenth full length is aptly titled Till fjälls, del II and this album is a masterpiece in it’s own right while doing the debut justice.
The thing about this album is the songs sound like this album could have been released between Ödemarkens son and Cosmic Genesis. The production is a bit more modern and a lot cleaner than back in ’98/’99 but the songs are just as good. Black metal blasts mixed with majestic melodies and folk elements has always been the best sound for Vintersorg and this album just nails it. His clean baritone is even more prominent than anything he’s done since Cosmic Genesis adding even more of the back to roots element. “Jökelväktaren” kicks this album off in the right fashion being one of the faster songs. It shows the contrasts between blasts and epic melodies. The chorus is melodic and adds to the epic feel. The album doesn’t let up after those initial riffs, either. “Lavin” is a masterpiece of a song; starting off with some soft acoustics the tremolos and blasts kick in epic style. Mr. V’s harsh and baritone cleans going back and forth while the contrast between aggression and melody shows all elements that make Vintersorg so great. This is one of my favorites on the album.
Which leads me to my next thought…which song would be considered best on the album. I really can’t put my finger on an exact song because, first and foremost, this is an album that must be heard fully to grasp the sheer brilliance of it. Second, they’re all incredible songs and trying to pick one would be next to impossible. “Fjällets mäktiga mur” is constructed to be eerily similar to the title track of the debut in places. The chorus is huge and the song is quite epic. The melodies are infectious making it hard to not enjoy them. Following that is “Obygdens pionjär,” which sounds like it could have been on either of the first two. The subtle sound of the flute in the middle adds so much to the song. “Vinterstorm” is another huge song. Beginning with the sound of violins being plucked an acoustic guitar and wind instruments picks up the intro into the main tremolos. The main riff during the verse is killer and leads right into a great chorus.
The three that round out the first disc are just as great as the songs mentioned above. And since there could be no return to form without an appearance from Ms. Cia Hedmark, who’s provided female vocals for Mr. V since the Otyg days. Her unmistakable vocals on “Vårflod” adds to the perfect song to end the first disc. The second disc is actually titled Tillbaka till källorna, loosely translated to Back to the Sources. Four songs adding up to around twenty five minutes it is truly like having a bonus. The songs are incredible and actually are reminiscent of the first EP Hedniskhjärtad. Although the modern sound is prevalent, the songs are written to sound just like old Vintersorg. “Köldens borg” is the perfect example of what I’m talking about. Not too fast, melodic with Vintersorg singing in his trademark baritone for most of the song. If the first disc marks a return to the atmosphere of the debut, the second disc takes it back a bit further.
In my eyes, Mr. Andreas Hedlund is an extraordinary artist. He’s one of the vocalists and songwriters in the Norwegian super group Borknagar. He pumps out masterpiece after masterpiece with his eponymous band. He collaborates with Øystein Brun (Borknagar) on the Cronian project. He nearly killed himself in a fall in November of 2014 only to bounce back and perform on the Borknagar’s Winter Thrice album less than a year later. And now he’s written a masterpiece that not only does the debut justice, it is the perfect successor. Your life will be incomplete unless you get this album…it is that essential!