Havamal - The Shadow Chapter

 

Key Facts

Country: 🇸🇪

Genre: Melodic Death Metal

Release Date: 21st May 2021

Record Label(s): Art Gates Records


Band Members 

Lennie - Guitars 

Kjell - Guitars

Björn - Vocals

Andreas Herlogsson - Drums 

Tino "Saurus" Vesanen - Bass


Havamal - Nidhoggr


Review
Rating (out of 5🤘): 🤘🤘🤘🤘
Favourite Track(s): Nidhoggr, Nornir's Call, Empire Of The Ashen Sun, Jormungandr, Hel, The Curse Of Grendel

The Hávamál is a famous poem found in the Codex Regius (a book of poems in Old Nordic from the Viking age). The poem itself is made up shorter gnomic verses, charms, spells, runes and various aspects of Nordic mythology. These also offer advice for living, proper personal conduct and wisdom, the text is an important piece of Old Nordic philosophy. The verses are attributed to the mighty Odin and how he learnt the runes alongside his adventure to obtain the Mead Of Poetry and his various relationships. History aside, Havamal is a Swedish melodic death metal band with a brand new album called The Shadow Chapter. Channelling the tales contained in Norse mythology, the band follow up 2019's Tales From Yggdrasil with an equally triumphant and epic album. Combining soaring symphonic and synth elements with the thunderous riffs of melodic death metal, the album transports you across the skies in Thor's chariot, hammer in hand, roaring into Jotunheimr! 

The first thing that stands out to you is the layers of rich and beautifully composes symphonic and electronic elements that engulf you. They give the album a high fantasy feel, creating a world in your head that conjures up something Tolkien-esque fused with the darker, brooding elements of Norse mythology, giving the album an incredible mystique. The riffs are mainly rhythmic, as  the melodies are heavily loaded in the synth elements. Mainly utilising the chugged grooves of death metal with some Amon Amarth style string skipping lead lines, which makes you want to row to the shores of an unsuspecting country with these triumphant, thundering riffs in your heart and battle-axe in hand. Opening up with an eerie, cinematic, scene setting introductory track named The North Awakens, you really get a feel for this album early on and become immersed in it's world. Where 2019's Tales From Yggdrasil seemed to focus on the darker side of Norse mythology, for example songs such as Death Of Baldur and Draugers March, The Shadow Chapter feels more like a fight back against these shadows of Hel. The music definitely tells the story of their subjects extremely well, with the most impressive coming being The Curse Of Grendel, Grendel of course is the first beast that Beowulf defeats in the hall of Heorot. Grendel is a misunderstood creature in many ways, and the song captures the tumultuous existence that he has to endure before being put out of his misery by the great Geat. It is easily the darkest sounding song on the album, possibly Hel can take that crown too, but its intensity is unmatched, as images of the great Saxon poem flash before your eyes. Sometimes, it does feel like the album would be a good alternate soundtrack to Skryrim, as it carries the same epic atmospherics that the game has. With that in mind, the album does have it's own dragon too, Nidhoggr. Nidhoggr (Níðhöggr if we want to go full Old Nordic), is a dragon/serpent hybrid, closely resembling a Wyvern, who gnaws at a root of the great world tree, Yggdrasil. The song looms large and is easily a stand out, with galloping riffs, thunderous blast beats and huge synths it feels like epic dragon fighting music, which will definitely help you channel your inner Sigurd. The vocals are interesting, as there is more of a black metal vibe to them. The harsh rasp suits the music perfectly in a way that the usual death metal low growls wouldn't, which leads you to believe that there is some atmospheric and symphonic black metal influence. Empire Of The Ashen Sun is the most exotic sounding in terms of melody and arrangement, using an Eastern sounding scale and gang chants, the song stands out as the most ominous on the album for sure. A strangely hypnotic mix of steady rhythms and eerie melody, you can't help but succumb to its strange magic. The album is solid throughout, each song has its own story to tell yet they all blend together cohesively. The sense of unity between the songs makes the album incredibly immersive and it is easy to get lost in the epic world that the album creates. Overall, The Shadow Chapter is sure to satiate all your melodic death metal needs and then some. 

The album's production has a very power metal cleanness yet still feels full of raw and powerful energy. The electronic layering is easily the stand out of the album's mix. With so many moving components in this melodic death metal machine, setting up the atmosphere to have a big impact must have been of vital importance. The layering envelops you on all sides and is mixed very much like an orchestra as each element has its own space and very rarely wanders outside of it throughout the album. With the occasional use of choral vocals the electronics give this album a deeply symphonic and cinematic feel. The drums have a solid, meaty thump to them, possibly a little too much beater click but it varies from song to song. The snare doesn't stand out as much as it probably should but it still resonates through the rich, textural tapestry of sound. The guitar tones are fairly typical of melodic death metal, mainly focusing on the chunkier low/mid tone to add some power to the songs. The lead tones have an 80s metal feel to them but with a modern twist, especially in Hel. Even with the reverb applied they still cut clearly through the mix. The bass tone is thick and chunky, filling out the low end so all the synth melodies can wash over you with ease. Overall, it is a pretty solid and epic mix, helping the song achieve their full impact. 

If you fancy something symphonic, melodic and atmospheric that makes you wish you were coursing across the sky with the gods of Asgard, The Shadow Chapter is the album for you!

Havamal - The Shadow Chapter

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