Havamal – Tales From Yggdrasil

Rating: 4/5
Distributor/label URL: https://www.artgatesrecords.com
Released: 2019
Buy Album: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Yggdrasil-Havamal/dp/B07RYQ4ZLM/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Havamal+-+Tales+From+Yggdrasil&qid=1565097426&s=gateway&sr=8-1
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/Havamalofficial/

Band line-up:

E. Helvete -Guitars & Vocals
Lars G. -Bass & Backing Vocals
D. Franseth -Drums & Backing vocals
J. Hoarfrost -Lead Guitar

Tracklisting:

1. Harken The Shadows
2. Draugers March
3. Berserker
4. Dawn Of The Frost Giants
5. Blood Oath
6. Net Of Ran
7. Death Of Balder
8. Hail Havamal
9. Ginnungagap

Review:

Havamal are a Swedish folk black metal band on Art Gates Records, who formed in 2016 and who unleashed their debut album ‘Tales from Yggdrasil’ on June 28th. They play with powerful orchestras and exciting riffs and with an intriguing mix of viking, power and death metal influences. They perform crowd-pleasing and theatrical gigs, bringing their audiences a complete metal experience. With their trailblazing approach to their lyrics and story-telling, the group offers a unique metal sound. 

Usually melodic-death style pedal tone riffs come across as ridiculously cliched, but the way they are frequently combined with surprisingly pleasant orchestral moods here, takes the music in a new direction. Whilst not avant-garde or strange, Havamal are a breath of fresh air. Because of the grunted, though not exactly malevolent vocals and complete lack of tunes from the singer, this music isn’t super-complex opera/symphonic metal, where each member of the band melodically works together like musicians would in Beethoven’s time or whatever. Instead, this music is more ’fun’, and to most, that will be all that matters. 

The melodies from the orchestra aren’t particularly complicated, but provide more of a dramatic atmosphere, rather than an angry, truly warlike one like you might expect. Again, you could call them ‘fun’. Having said that, the chord progressions are very well done and flow beautifully. Most of the songs are a little samey, but it really didn’t have to be that way; the song ‘Dawn Of The Frost Giants’ has some very fitting chiming synths in it that do indeed sound kind of ‘icy’. If the other songs had more of that sonic painting of environments/situations, etc., things would have been a lot more interesting. 

‘Net Of Ran’ stands out as more tense than the other pieces of music much of the time but as always, the symphonic backing fails to break the mould, for better or worse. Occasional guitar solos in the release add a bit of spice to the music, but unlike in similar bands, they’re not mindless shred fests but in contrast provide, dare I say it… a sense of fun. The positive moods on the whole could have been taken further as the similar tempos that are often heard throughout the album rarely push the boundaries. However, there are some high speed blitzes heard in ‘Hail Havamal’ for example. 

In conclusion, this is very well written music but it could do with more variety in several areas. It may have lots of extreme metal influences, but if you’re looking for a band like Emperor, you may find the material here rather tame. You could call this music ‘black metal light’. In addition, it’s not as complicated as many symphonic metal bands such as Epica or Rhapsody, so the phrase ’symphonic metal light’ could perhaps also be used. Even so, if you’re a fan of those two ensembles, you will most likely enjoy Havamal.

Review by Simon Wiedemann
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