It's always nice to get new metal in the mail. Every once in a while you get an album that just flops big time, and that's a big drag. Then, other times you get something that just blows you up against the wall. Then there are those ones that actually surprise you quite a bit and leave you saying, "eh, not bad....not bad at all!". On Helgards Fall, Arvinger treats us to some viking influenced black metal mixing in some Norwegian folk music for an overall, aggressive sound fairly reminiscent of early Drottnar. This is one of those ones that doesn't quite blow me against the wall, but I've walked away being pretty impressed.
Keyboards are used frequently here...sometimes helping the overall sound by added a very dark feel, but sometimes not achieving the haunting, dark feel I think the band was shooting for. It almost gives you that happy, bouncy feel. However as a whole, the atmosphere here is actually very dark. They use a good deal of female and male clean vocals. The idea behind them is good, but they need some work, as some of them sound too cheerful, or they just don't seem to fit in the particular song. Actually, some of them I didn't like at all at first, but as I listen more they seem to be growing on me. The main vocals by Djerv are sickening black shrieks and are all in Norwegian. The contrast between the clean and black vocals works well on songs like "Tapre Krigere" where the clean vocals shift suddenly to horrifying shrieks and insane blasting. I love the raw guitar sound they captured on this disc! The guitars have that blistering, shrill feel at times and at other times they give powerful, monster riffs. If I had long hair, I'd be swinging it all over the place at this point. They even do a nice acoustic intro to the song "I Skogens Morke" which turned out good.
The production is not terrific, but fits the black metal style very well. It is very listenable though, so don't let that be a roadblock in your decision to get this album. You can tell this is still a somewhat young band, but I really like a lot of their ideas. Definitely a band that will be getting lots of time in my CD player. Check out their site at www.arvinger.com