Norway’s Einherjer are one of the pioneers of the viking metal sub-genre that sprung up in the early nineties. They’ve had a varying career with some great moments with some not so great moments mixed in. I think a lot of the criticism of the band is a bit harsh because I don’t think that any of their albums that awful. Yes they have been a bit inconsistent but the talent is there. Not long after the release of the amazing album Blot in 2003 they disbanded only to resurface again in 2008. Since that time they released four albums; including a re-recording of their debut Dragons of the North. This also includes their most recent output, Norrøne spor. With this new release they have reclaimed their former glory.
What we have here is newly invigorated band. They absolutely crushed it with the re-recording of the debut and that momentum has carried over to this album. While most viking metal straddles the line between black and death metal, Einherjer relies on more traditional riffing; even bordering on doom in places, all the while utilizing harsh vocals. The songs are slower and more thought out. The riffs don’t pummel you with speed or aggression. Instead they go in a much more epic direction with a sound that I think is very distinct. They do have their faster headbangers like “Døden tar ingen fangar” or “Spre vingene.” But even these songs have more complex time changes adding another dimension to the songs. One thing they do have that a lot of other viking metal bands do not, godly soloing. Ole Sønstabø joined the band in 2016 and is an incredible guitarist. His solos on this album are incredible and are the icing on the cake for this album.
Keeping with the sub-genres tradition, most of the lyrics are in Norwegian, their mother tongue. There are three songs that are in English, including the opener, “The Spirit of a Thousand Years.” This is a killer song that reminds me of Vreid in a way. One of the faster numbers it still has that epic feel and Sønstabø just crushes the solo. That’s followed by the mighty “Mine våpen mine ord.” This has a crushing slower riff starting it out. The chorus sounds like something from Blot. Frode Glesnes’ gargling on broke glass vocals fit just perfectly for the atmosphere that they were shooting for on this album. Once again Sønstabø’s guitar work on this song just takes it over the top. The aforementioned “Døden tar ingen fangar” could be the best song they’ve done. It’s heavy as fuck and epic with killer riffs and some really cool melodies. The tone of the guitar during the solos gives me the chills.
I’ve followed this band’s career for a long time and this is the first Einherjer album since Blot to make me feel this way. Ten songs of unrelenting metal that has all the ingredients for greatness. They truly knocked it out of the park with this one and I’m excited to hear if they can keep this momentum going. If you’ve ever been a fan of this band, I suggest you get this….immediately.