Wednesday 16 January 2019

Herteitr - Battleblood (2018)

Country: Colombia
Style: Viking/Folk Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 16 Dec 2018
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Metal Archives

I just couldn't resist taking a look at this EP, not only because it's an indie release from a pagan/folk/Viking metal band and I have a particular fondness for folk metal, but Heiteitr are a Viking metal band from that best known of all Scandinavian countries, Colombia. Yeah, that caught my eye too.

Now, I have no interest in being elitist in the slightest but it's difficult to imagine people close to the equator in South America drinking out the endless winter night with their battle compatriots and the Thor's hammer in the Herteitr logo emphasises that this is Viking metal in the Scandinavian vein, even with the presence of folk elements like a charango, an Andean lute traditionally made from the shell of an armadillo. How frickin' metal is that?

The charanguista is Yilmer León, one of two guitarists in Herteitr; the other is German Gomez who also plays mandolin and handles vocal duties. In addition to bass and drums, there's also Diego Gómez on accordion and Leo Zauriel playing a variety of wind instruments, which float enticingly above this material. They've been around for a decade but this is their first recording.

I liked Battleblood a lot, even if I ache for more overtly Colombian elements in their sound. Even if it's odd to see Viking metal from outside of Scandinavia (though this isn't unprecedented, given Ymyrgar's exploration of the Norse eddas from Tunisia), folk metal escaped the north long ago and we now have enticing material incorporating folk instruments from cultures as far adrift as Mongolia, Israel and Japan. Now I want to hear Colombian folk metal without the Viking influence (I'll be reviewing some Ecuadorian folk metal tomorrow, which fits that bill wonderfully).

Leaving aside my global folk metal wishlist entirely, this is good stuff, even though we only have four tracks to enjoy. The Pride of War starts off on the right foot with a rousing effort that should have our mugs of mead swaying in appreciation. Battle Cry and By Death Comes Glory ably keep that spirit alive because there isn't a poor track on this album, let alone a bad one. Everyone and everything does its job well.

The real highlight, though, is the seven minute closer, Flames of Fury / Steel Burning. It starts slower, giving us the calm before the storm with traditional instruments, then launches into motion with the guitar down low and the wind up high. Gomez adds his growl and the melody weaves around him. Guitars swirl and chug, then bounce halfway through when things quieten down, presumably as one half of this track makes way for the other. There's a lot going on in this song and I dig all of it.

Now, given that it took Herteitr ten years to get round to an EP, can we have a full length album a little sooner than 2028?

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