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Review: Heltekvad - Morgenrødens helvedesherre
Morgenrødens helvedesherre

Label: Eisenwald
Year released: 2022
Duration: 35:30
Tracks: 7
Genre: Black Metal


Review online: June 10, 2022
Reviewed by: Micah.Ram
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Rated 4/5 (80%) (3 Votes)

Formed around a team of three musicians who collectively participate in live performances of Afsky, one of which being the sole member of Afsky, Ole Pedersen Luk, perhaps it seems reasonable to suspect Denmark’s Heltekvad formed as a result of collaboration between these three individuals performing Afsky’s material live together. With Heltekvad’s first full-length album, Morgenrødens helvedesherre, the band have whipped up a tasty offering of Medieval Black Metal well worth your time.

The material here is often quite melodic, although also more connected to a traditional Black Metal sound than some of the other medieval-themed Black Metal bands such as Véhémence. Perhaps that is because the folky melodic elements found so boldly in acts like Véhémence are not as strong in Heltekvad’s work. Instead, the melodic stylings are more subtle and folk instrumentation only really comes out in the one instrumental passage that uses folk instrumentation at the beginning of the second track, "Ærbødig er den som sejrer." The other connections to the medieval theme are lyrical. The vocals of Ole Pedersen Luk are a genuine highlight of the experience. He sounds like a tortured spirit trapped inside an old castle forced to relive horrors of old.

While the album is not a long one, it isn’t really a short album. It hits that sweet spot where it’s long enough to feel substantial, yet at the same time it is over in what feels like a flash, likely due to how much fun it is from front to back. The tracklist is well done, starting strong and with the back half of the album containing the heaviest hitters. Where the band really strikes gold is when they throw in a nice twist, such as when the repeated rise and fall riff at the middle of the song "Eder og Hæder" suddenly slows down greatly with atmospheric backdrop, only to resume again shortly after, proceeding to the next development. These are the moments that become most memorable. From this track and onwards, the album has a very strong finish, with the sixth track, "Du skæbnesvangre stund" being my favorite. This track opens up very strong with an ominous, arpeggiated melody by brass instruments, a melodic gesture that gets embellished and developed by the guitars after the band suddenly bursts into the track at full speed and energy. Many of the greatest melodies on the album are here on this track, as well as a cool triplet-laden groove in the later half of the track.

Heltekvad have crafted a fun and intriguing record in Morgenrødens helvedesherre, which is full of unique charm. I would like to see more twists and turns such as the one I mentioned earlier in the fourth track, as well as perhaps more experimentation with folk instrumentation, but I greatly appreciate the band’s efforts to put out an album that contains absolutely no fluff. There are no weak tracks here, just an engaging album with haunting vocals, great melodies, and a dose of atmosphere from time to time.

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