Thursday, March 22, 2012

Heimdalls Wacht: Nichtorte - Oder Die Geistreise Des Runenschamanen (2010)

Hermaphroditic--And Pulling It Off

Nichtorte - Oder Die Geistreise Des Runenschamanen is the mouthful title of Heimdalls Wacht's fourth album. They're a German pagan/black metal band signed to Heidens Hart, who gave me a review copy of the record. It's apparently a concept record, which I think has something to do with interdimensional travel by the power of runes, but when it's all in German, who really cares?

Though their name means "Heimdall's Watch," I can't help but think "wacht" sounds like a slang term for a vagina. Heimdall, of course, is supposed to be male, so it would be surprising to find out he's packing a complete set of male and female parts. That would be about as surprising as some of the unexpected elements in the band's music.

Like a lot of other bands, they straddle the line between pagan metal and black metal (if it's really a line at all), using very few folk elements. They play at a mid-pace for black metal, allowing their very catchy riffs to sink in (see especially "Waldeinsamkeit"), while the drums never go into blast-beat territory, instead opting for a fast but steady pace with some fills. Most of the vocals are rasped, but there are some more melodic vocal styles in here as well. Which brings me to some of the surprises.

"Der Wind gibt mir Geleit" is your first hint that something's strange here. The melodic singing style almost sounds like a Christian band--and that style pops up in other places as well. There's a brief moment in "Ignis Fatuus" where you could swear they were going punk. Then they play a couple of morose, black metal ballads. "Die Bürde der Schande" has the band going thrash, using death growls, switching to acoustic guitar, and finally doing a black metal take on an Iced Earth-style ballad, complete with power metal drama in the vocals.

And the thing is, despite all this weirdness, they totally pull it off.

The Verdict: Mutant, schizophrenic, chimeric, hermaphroditic, whatever you want to call it, this is interesting stuff. I give Nichtorte 4 out of 5 stars.

Heidens Hart

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