Einherjer

Picture of Einherjer

Dragons Of The North

Einherjer - Dragons Of The North ©1996 Napalm Records
1. Dragons Of The North
2. Dreamstorm
3. Forever Empire
4. Conqueror
5. Fimbul Winter
6. Storms Of The Elder
7. Slaget Ved Harfsfjord
8. Ballad Of The Swords

Dragons of the North is the debut full-length by a band who has a rabidly Viking image. Yes, at times the drums sound like the hoofbeats of a legion of Norse warriors, and the guitars often fall into the realm of folk-edged, sword-swingin' battle chants, but the five men in this outfit fail to present their product to me as consistently Viking. Their subject matter is another story entirely, as Odin is mentioned regularly, with allusions to destroying the "new god". Despite some silly lyrics (what else is "I'll kick this Christ right in the ass"?), Einherjer goes about their brand of metal quite well. The songs are mostly long, epic affairs, with an average length of almost exactly six minutes. The only disappointment is "Forever Empire," which starts out with a rather cool bass sound but descends quickly into a pseudo-ripoff of the major guitar theme from the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black." I've owned this disc for four months and haven't yet listened to that entire song. I've tried, time and again, but I just can't. The other songs all employ a fair bit of variety throughout their lengths, preventing them from becoming monotonous. Vocals range from a "clean" voice, which is surprisingly good, to a sort of speak-grunt, to a more standard black metal scream. All instruments are played competently, and succeed in conveying a mood, even if that mood is not strictly what the band thinks they create. There is a simple, but evocative, acoustic section near the end of "Storms of the Elder" that, the first time I really paid attention to it, made me drop what I was doing until the song ended. The band uses a keyboard, but definitely not in the major way that Dimmu Borgir does, and the production allows for all instruments to be heard clearly. Even the bass, for which I am eternally grateful.

Taken all in all, this is a good album. It's not as goofy as their later releases, and contains some excellent songwriting and melody. If you enjoy mid-tempo black/Viking-inspired metal, you would probably enjoy this. Except for that one song. It's an abomination.

Review by C. LeRoux

Review date: 04/2000

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Odin Owns Ye All

Odin Owns Ye All ©1998 Century Media
1. Leve Vikingeaanden
2. Out of Ginnungagap
3. Clash of the Elder
4. Odin Owns Ye All
5. Remember Tokk
6. Home
7. The Pathfinder & the Prophetess
8. Inferno
9. A New Earth

It seems like heavy metal has long had its illuminaries of a particular style as well as the second tier bands and of course the ass clowns who dwell on the fringe. For instance, early thrash and speed metal featured quite a few amazing acts, and then there was Raven. As the 90s metal scene blossomed, various subgenres appeared, one of them being the folk tinged "Viking metal" scene. As we all know, Enslaved pretty much owns that realm and Finntroll took the good times to the max with their excellent approach. And then there's Einherjer. Their first few albums were relatively benign and innocuous, but Odin Owns Ye All should have been called Einherjer Takes the Cake instead.

Apparently the band got it into their heads that finding a clean vocalist would help propel them to Valhalla-esque heights and they found some joker named Ragnar Vikse. Let's just say that his performance on this album isn't going to endear him to Odin at any point. Unlike some vocalist who are bad singers yet convincingly sell songs anyhow (think Quorthon), Vikse just sounds like an annoying drunken soccer fan after a few too many pints at the pub. It probably doesn't help that the album's songwriting is hilariously clunky and the changes in the songs have about as much smoothness as the business side of a porcupine's butt. I don't imagine Odin himself was a clumsy oaf so it's odd that Einherjer would choose to portray him with songs that fall all over themselves.

Needless to say, this album unintentionally hilarious and not in a "we're laughing with you" sort of way.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2011

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Blot

Einherjer - Blot ©2003 Tabu Recordings
1. Einherjermarsjen
2. Ironbound
3. Dead Knight's Rite
4. Wolf-Age
5. The Eternally Damned
6. Ware Her Venom
7. Hammar Haus
8. Starkad
9. Ride the Gallows
10. Ingen Grid
11. Berserkergang
12. Venomtongue

It's very obviously a backhanded compliment to say, "Blot is Einherjer's least silly album to date". But this is exactly the case with Norway's long running unintentional parody of so-called Viking Metal. At best, this band has released some very average albums, but ultimately collapsed into self-parody with Odin Owns Ye All. Granted, they ditched the singer from that release, but it occurs to me I recently listened to its followup Native Norwegian Art (something which I'm sure the Ministry of Cultural Stuff in Oslo might take umbrage) and it left me with utterly no lasting impression. I think they played distorted guitars on it, and maybe growled a bit. That essentially sums up that listening experience. Blot, which was their final release before a half decade hiatus, is actually tolerable. That said, the most notable aspect of it is that they avoid being silly and over the top. Or, perhaps they made this album while relatively sober. Either way, the result is an album that isn't as easy to make fun of. The band does stick to their somewhat folk-tinged style, mostly in the bouncy, rhythms. Guitarist Frode Glesnes provides the vocals, offering a basic black metal rasp (but fortunately not the befuddling vocals of Odin Owns Ye All). He is unremarkably competent in this role. This essentially sums up Blot. They manage to pull of a record that sounds like professional musicians would make, but it certainly lacks character, good or bad. They manage to offer one or two somewhat catchy songs ("Ride the Gallows" isn't half bad). But that's the extent of it.

Einherjer at best demonstrates they're a tolerable, but otherwise bland act that just so happened to be from the same country as many far better acts. Like I said earlier, the most notable thing about Blot is they manage not to sound entirely goofy. Each member deserves a half filled glass of mead for this accomplishment, but as for you, the listener, please do not mistake this for a recommendation because, really, your life will be better off having never heard this or essentially anything by this band. You can thank me later for taking one for the team.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2012

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