Vanitas Vanitatvm


Evolve or perish, that is the law of Nature. Black Metal is perhaps the most […]
By Martin Knap
October 22, 2018
Helrunar - Vanitas Vanitatvm album cover

Evolve or perish, that is the law of Nature. Black Metal is perhaps the most ideologically charged (philosophically oriented would be a more flattering way to put it) genre of Metal, and Nietzschean ideas of the Will to Power, of Philosophising With a Hammer, of a joyful creative destruction are at the very core of its creed. Black Metal indeed got a second breath in the recent years with bands like MGLA, NIGHTBRINGER, INFERNO and others pushing the sound of the genre forward; those who lived from copying second wave Norwegian BM fell by the wayside. If one adaptive strategy is to innovate, another one is to improve, and this is where HELRUNAR comes in. They don't innovate so much, but they take tried out things and do them better. HELRUNAR blend the icy atmosphere of second wave BM and combine with melody and groove. When you add superb song-writing chops and really great guitar work (no eschewing of melody and solos here) to this it makes for an engaging, dare I say fun listen.

The album doesn't pull any punches, after a 1 minute long atmospheric intro it's show time. The song "Saturnus" shifts between icy tremolo guitars accompanied by blast beats and a catchy melodic riff, and s a super punchy chorus with heavy grooves backing the vocals. "Lotophagoi" kind of reverses this formula: the mid-tempo verse is rather melodic and groovy, but the chorus fast and aggressive. One thing that I really appreciate about this album is the lyricism. Like DIMMU BORGIR or CARACH ANGREN (and unlike many other BM bands) you have no problem following every word and the lyrics are so captivating that you will really want to listen closely (if you are a German speaker). Such is certainly the case with the song "In Eis Und Nacht" - a great song in typical HELRUNAR style with icy riffs and BATHORY-like grooves, great leads and solos. But I really like how the phrase "Wo ist oh Mensch dein sieg?" ("Where is your victory, oh man?") reoccurs in various parts of the song that have a very different mood.

HELRUANR show their versatility by putting a song on the album that could almost be called a ballad - it is certainly is a love song but without any sentimentalism. The song oozes with raw, primordial energy, and we certainly wouldn't expect a Black Metal band to approach this theme otherwise. After this slow-tempo piece we get a relatively faster one called "Als die Welt zu Nacht sich wand", but there is much more going on in this song then just militaristic blasting and savage riffing. We even find an acoustic bridge that gives the song a nice breathing space. Album closes with a nine-minute epic "Necropolis". It is epic in scope but also in the sense that it tells a story which one could almost read as a piece of literature. This song about destruction and the absurdity of human existence transitions into a sorrowful violin tune, which is also the outro for the whole one hour long album.

This album kicks ass, it is engaging but at the same time it has depth. HELRUNAR make music that captivates the listener with its mystical folky atmosphere, its lyricism and with the great musicianship. I'm counting this among my favorite Black Metal albums that have come out this year.

9 / 10

Almost Perfect








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"Vanitas Vanitatvm" Track-listing:

1. Es ist ein sterbendt Liecht
3. Λωτοφάγοι
4. Blutmond
5. Da brachen aus böse Blattern, am Menschen und am Vieh
7. In Eis und Nacht
8. Nachzehrer
9. Als die Welt zur Nacht sich wandt
10. Νεϰρόπολις
11. Der Tag an dem das Meer seine Toten freigibt

Helrunar Lineup:

S.K.:  Guitars, Bass, Drums
M.D.:  Vocals

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