Every year toward the end of the summer, the goddamn Renaissance Festival returns, giving everyone a chance to enjoy entertainment from ages ago when sword clashes were a regular occurrence, and bloodshed would occur on horse-galloped battlefields. It’s fun for an afternoon, but it’s also a reminder how much comfort and actual luxury surrounds us. We can have a sandwich driven to our homes in minutes!
Danish black metal dreamers Heltekvad are heavily awash in eras from centuries ago, and their Medieval brand of wickedness rushes to the forefront on their impressive debut outing “Morgenrødens Helvedesherre.” The record is an enormous amount of fun, it’s deadly, and it brings to you the essence of jousts and duels to your very headphones and or speakers. The band—vocalist/guitarist/bassist Ole Luk, guitarist/bassist Simon Skotte, drummer/backing vocalist Simon Frenning—create a pretty unique collection here. It’s not like they’re the first band to scratch that Middle Ages itch, but they do so with such enthusiasm and genuine drive that you can’t help but get lost in the dust as the band storms over seven tracks and almost 36 minutes of chaos.
“Organdies åbenbaring” starts with guitars circling and the sound of an unsheathed blade, howls coming at you from insane angles. The drums smash as the guitars continue to build, deranged wails get under your skin, and hypnotic riffs form a tornadic shield and drive you into a vortex. “Ærbødig er den som sejrer” opens in what sounds like a Middle Ages festival, flutes dancing, the atmosphere festive, and then the track starts to open wounds. The guitars race and surge while speedy chaos erupts, vocals tear at flesh, and everything grows in scope and pressure, ending with howls bringing a final dose of menace. “Ved sværdets klinge skal du forgå” rips in with guitars carving and the shrieks eating away at you, the guitars crashing and flooding. The playing storms even heavier, amplifying the madness, doubling down on the ferocious nature of what’s going on here, comforting flutes carrying you out.
“Eder og hæder” explodes right away, leveling with a stormfront that’s unforgiving and penetrating, rapid-fire playing digging into your brain. Guitars dice as gut-wrenching playing makes breathing a challenge, and the heat just simmers, wilting you in an atmospheric agony. “Fornægter din æt” has a gusty start that lets winds whip dangerously, the shrieks maiming even as the melodies pick you up and whisk you into battle. The tempos grow more humid, caking your face in sweat as the playing chars and leaves you in a pile of ash. “Du skæbnesvangre stund” bellows in with synth that sounds like glorious horns opening battle with the guitars lathering up with speed and power. The vocals mash as things get more volatile, the guitars leave a numbing effect, and everything ends suddenly in spastic gasps. “Døden står ved himmelens port” is the closer, and it basks in glowing synth and thick murk before the power ignites, and the playing comes rampaging. Guitars spiral as the vocals deliver punishment, hellish pain is dealt in generous doses, and everything ends with melodies flooding and a general sense of unease.
“Morgenrødens Helvedesherre” is one of the strangest black metal records you’re bound to hear this year, which we mean in a charming and disarming way. Heltekvad’s driving Medieval sound is razor sharp and full of hurricane-force melodies, and the textures, sounds, and instruments from that era add a much different attitude to a subgenre that sometimes forgets that being inventive is a favorable trait. This is an album that’s catchy, feels like it transported from the deep past, and remains invigorating and splattering the entire time.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Heltekvad/
To buy the album, go here: https://ffm.bio/heltekvad
For more on the label, go here: https://www.eisenton.de/