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Review: Einherjer - Norwegian Native Art
Norwegian Native Art

Label: Tabu Recordings
Year released: 2005
Originally released in: 2000
Duration: 39:29
Tracks: 9
Genre: Viking Metal


Review online: April 21, 2009
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4.22/5 (84.44%) (9 Votes)

This one took me completely by surprise. I was looking for something to break up the long string of Power Metal stuff I'd been listening to and this one was sitting right there at the library. How can you go wrong with a free listen?? I'd never heard anything by Einherjer before and while the corpse paint and blood on the cover made me think "Black/Death," the song titles on Norwegian Native Art are clearly Viking.

And Viking is what you get. With song titles like "Hugin's Eyes" (Hugin being one of Odin's ravens) and "Burning Yggdrasil" (Yggdrasil being the Norse for "world tree") it couldn't be anything else. I haven't listened to a ton of Viking Metal so I'm not sure how often this lyrical ground has been covered in the past, but it reads pretty epic for the uninitiated. It is the songs on Norwegian Native Art that both make AND break the album. The riffs are heavy and the vocals are mostly of the Black/Death growling style, with some clean vocals as well (more on that later). However, the keyboards on Norwegian Native Art are overused to the point where they overshadow some of the album's heaviness and give it an almost symphonic feel. Not what I was expecting. Then there are the songs. Opening track "Wyrd of the Dead" has all the aforementioned musical elements and is overall unimpressive. "Doomfaring" should have been called "Wyrd of the Dead II" and by the time "Wyrd of the Dead III" ("Hugin's Eyes") crawled out of my speakers, I was ready to throw in the towel.

Then something changed. "Burning Yggdrasil" starts out just like the three songs that preceded it, but when the song breaks for a brief keyboard interlude, the band comes back with a complete change of tempo and mood. It's like they all of a sudden remembered how to write an engaging piece of music. And the rest of the album continues with much improved songwriting. "Crimson Rain" features a piano that actually sounds like rain. And by the time "Regicide" finishes the album (track 9 is a bonus track that should have been left off), Einherjer have gone 180 degrees with the slowest song on the album. It features both male and female clean vocals and has an extremely epic feel. It's almost as if the band had five really good songs and threw three more together to round out a full album. And in an odd sequencing decision, they put them at the beginning, perhaps to get them out of the way.

Treat Norwegian Native Art as a five-song EP starting with track four, "Burning Yggdrasil" and ending with track nine "Regicide" and you got quite an enjoyable Viking Metal experience. The rest are justification for skip buttons everywhere.

More about Einherjer...
Review: North Star (reviewed by Christian Renner)
Review: Odin Owns Ye All (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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