Monday, August 28, 2017


Hermóðr - Det Förflutna
Wolfspell Records, 2015
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

Disc 1:
1. Från skymning till soluppgång
2. Vargen
3. Thrudvang
4. Grav
5. Bestens Vrål

Disc 2:
1. Tillbaka till skuggorna
2. Ginnungagap
3. Intro (Förlorad)
4. Förlorad
5. Aska
6. Intro (Vid avgrundens kant)
7. Iskalla vidar
8. Vid avgrundens kant
9. Det som vandrar på gamla stigar

If you've missed out on all those digital EP's and singles published by the band on your their bandcamp, now we finally get the chance to own a physical copy of these songs on CD. If Hermóðr continues to put out these digital singles, I guess it will be a bit more tolerable if they compile it all onto a CD from time to time. For this first compilation it spans the entirety of two discs, because Hermóðr simply produces that much material. In the usual Wolfspell fashion this album is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies, of which I own #316.

After listening to "Krigstid" it's kind of strange going back to some of these older Hermóðr songs and you really get a clear sense of how much Hermóðr's sound has improved over a short amount of time. "Thrudvang" while a really nice and majestic song, the production feels a little fuzzy to me and not in a way that's adding to the overall feel of the song. Either way, I'm quite glad to finally have a copy of this material on an actual CD now. As you can imagine, the songs featured on the second disc are a lot stronger, simply because they are newer. Strangely, the first three songs are all instrumental, so, as a listener, we spend a good amount of time just relaxing to some really beautiful songs. When we get to the "Förlorad" EP, things start to pick up quite a bit and we're back to some really excellent atmospheric Black Metal. "Aska" is the big surprise here, with it's Burzum styled chord structuring and some clean vocal passages that add a very haunting atmosphere overall. Weirdly, the other EP released in 214 "Vid Avgrundens Kant" isn't as good as "Förlorad". The production is a little fuzzier, so the songs don't feel as majestic in some ways.

One of the real treats with this re-release is the final track "Det som vandrar på gamla stigar", which is an all new song, just for this release. It's extremely good and falls in line with the quality we hear on albums like "Krigstid".

While, I didn't get into every single song on this release, I'm still glad to see these tracks hit the pressing plant, rather than listening to them as singles on bandcamp. If you're a Hermóðr fan, then this is absolutely worth checking out, especially the material on disc 2, that is by far the strongest.

Hermóðr - Krigstid
Wolfspell Records, 2014
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Krigaren
2. Stormen
3. Mitt Hem
4. Krigstid
5. Nattens Mörker

Skipping ahead to "Krigstid" we now behold one of my favorite Hermóðr releases. As before with the Wolfspell release this is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies and I own #37. As with "Vinter" and all the other releases some extremely provocative art was chosen and looking through the booklet merely enhances the listening experience. If the art chosen isn't actually Gustav Dore, then it's a serious look-alike, because most of the art is in that vein.

"Krigstid", so far is the most Black Metal in overall feel of the Hermóðr releases so far. It surely tends to the atmospheric side and our slower approach to the genre is still tried and true here. Although, it might be interested to see what would happen if Hermóðr did ever delve into the blast beat territory of the other giants in the genre. Regardless, Hermóðr carve out a fairly unique spot with this approach to the genre and the way the leads create an entrancing soundscape to interplay with the plodding rhythms is just masterful. At times "Krigstid" rivals the passionate compositions on Kältetod's album "Reue", which has some of the finest compositions around. While, for me, "Krigstid" never truly hits "Reue" territory it is quite the success for generating a similar feel and journey. My bias towards high speeds is likely holding me back on this particular opinion, although he does get close with the title track with the tremelo picked lead, which is simply glorious! Part of me wishes it would've built into a blast section, but alas, I was never satisfied here. It's still one of the finest tracks on the album, regardless.

The bonus track "Nattens Mörker" takes on a bit of a different tone from the rest of the album. On this track Rafn plays around with dissonance a lot more. It has a far darker and disturbing feel to his usual majestic music. But we eventually give way to some incredibly composed atmospheric parts in the closing minutes that meander between majesty and dissonance, so it's an interesting experience. I think it fits with the overall journey of "Krigstid" despite its slightly different composition approach.

"Krigstid" is an exceptional album, in my opinion, and, for me, it blows "Vinter" out of the water. It takes a lot of the ideas built in that recording and just enhances them ten fold. Rafn is really nailing something wonderful with this music and I hope he keeps it up. The only thing that's a bit worrying is how often he releases single tracks... why not just collect material until you have albums? This music is designed around going on a long journey, but that's difficult to achieve on a single track, unless you make it thirty minutes long. Either way, I'll keep listening and hope that Rafn isn't playing the odds of randomness to hit on amazing material and rather crafting with care and quality.

Hermóðr - Vinter
Wolfspell Records, 2014
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Frostfödd
2. Den Mörkaste Dagen
3. Då du Lämnade Mig
4. Månen & Skogen
5. Sorg
6. Vinter
7. En Plats där Tiden Dör

Let's fast forward over singles and jump right to the first full-length "Vinter". "Vinter" is, basically, everything I wanted a full length Hermóðr album to be. It features wonderful cover art that truly captures the essence of the music. This album was originally released on cassette, but I have the CD version limited to 500 hand-numbered copies of which I own 130.

"Vinter" is a slow and plodding journey, much like the first demo, but I feel like the writing and song structure have matured a little bit more since then. I feel like there is a more intense and deeper underlying current to these songs than Rafn wrote before. It has an even deeper and colder atmosphere before as well. Despite the general similarity between the tracks, there is enough variation to get lost in the album, while still finding it interesting.

Your average Black Metal fan may not be really enamored with this style, but if you come across a fan that is also a massive fan of Ambient music, then this is a must recommend. The same droning and meditative experience is very similar. I, for one, really enjoy that experience and "Vinter" gives us a chilling, yet strangely beautiful interpretation of style amidst all the harshness within.

Hermóðr - Hermóðr
Self Released, 2013
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Från Skymning till Soluppgång
2. Vargen

After a very successful demo release, Hermóðr has turned to the internet to release a massive amount of music. I'm not going to review all of these releases, because often the digital singles or two songs per release types of material was later compiled into a CD, which is a far more desirable listening experience, in my opinion.

This EP features two new songs the first of which is quite different from the first demo, but still quite good in it's own way. It features a droning clean guitar line with moments of haunting clean vocals. Another guitar lead will appear here and there throughout the song to give it more of a variation, but there are no drums and there is basically no actual Black Metal on this track at all. "Vargen" begins by following in a similar vein, but after about three minutes it kicks into a Black Metal song. It's a lot more subdued and somber than the first demo, but definitely feels like a continuation of that style. So, if you want to some soothing somber melodies then these two songs will surely hit the spot.

Hermóðr - Demo 2012
Fallen Empire, 2012
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. För alltid
2. Slutet på hans sista resa
3. Över de snötäckta bergen

It's unfortunate, I've missed out on the original release of this demo when it came out. I've gotten stuff from Fallen Empire before, but somehow this passed me by, which is a shame because the cover art alone would have surely caught my attention had I been paying any. Looking into the musician behind the project, Rafn, he has created a lot of music over the years. I've tried out some of his other projects and they tend to range more into the Depressive Black Metal/DSBM and that's just not my thing. Hermóðr, on the other hand, this is a project that I can get behind.

The first demo only features three songs, but the songs are pretty long, so it gives you a good amount of time to get immersed in the atmosphere of the project. Hermóðr is on the more raw spectrum of Black Metal, but Rafn has this wonderful minimalistic sort of lo-fi approach to the whole concept. The end results is some really immersive music, more akin to listening to a beautiful Ambient composition in many regards. The whole project's concept is built around nature and the landscapes of Sweden and the music really nails that atmosphere perfectly. It's cold and chilling, but at the same time has this underlying beauty to the whole journey. It's a droning unchanging landscape of frigid ice, but you can't help but marvel at the sheer beauty of everything.

I think Hermóðr bears some similarity to the style Burzum was creating, especially in the newer recordings where Varg takes a much more simplistic approach to his writing, however Hermóðr doesn't ever really play as fast as Burzum does, Hermóðr is almost closer to Doom Metal tempos, but the execution is entirely different of course. The general song design is built around a slow core riff, but then has this wonderful expansive lead guitar parts that really pull us into the music. Usually, I heavily prefer faster music, but for some reason Hermóðr really just captures the imagination and my need for speed never really comes into play here. Luckily, the vocal performance stays on the more typical Black Metal approach and never delves into the shrieks of DSBM, which drive me nuts. There are some softer sung/spoken word sections, which is what makes those parts feel all the more like Burzum to me.

So, if you like the idea of slow atmospheric Black Metal, then this is a band to really check out. I think people will find a lot to enjoy with this project and this first demo would launch a myriad of new releases over the next few years. Who knew this would turn into such a prolific project!