(Adipocere Records) Enslain Magazine Volume 2, Issue 1 France's Himinbjorg have always had an unduplicated and recognizable sound that is depressingly bleak and heavy, and they've certainly perfected it on this, their 5th full-length. Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of their sound is Zahaah's eccentric clean vocal, which is folk-like and often erratic, following seemingly dissonant patterns. He utilizes a variety of other voices as well, screech/growling with heavy distortion on about half of the record, and singing with a raspy yell on other parts. The concepts are mostly of Paganism and Odinism, which has stayed consistent since their early years.
There is a great deal of repetition on the songs, adding to the melancholic and grim ambience. A way that they keep the songs from getting dull is to vary the tempo through different passages, often starting doomy and ominous, repeating the slow dismal riffs several times for greater effect, and then transitioning into a faster, black metal sound, or exciting, fast guitar solos, as they do in "The Inner Mirror." Each track is a different experience, some having a chilling ambience created by the non-distorted guitars and creepy effects, others containing haunting samples, which reflect their well-established sound perfectly.
It's awesome to see that these guys are still around, offering a different experience for fans of varying degrees of blackness. The guitar tone makes every song depressive, even when played at breakneck speeds, and the vocals help give the sound an identity and a sense of memorability. This is a highly recommended experience, so long as you're not on medication for bi-polar disorder.
Pagan Viking Black Metal, this phrase doesn't even begin to touch on the spirit of this release! First I'd like to comment on the Viking categorization. I'm unsure how French natives can consider themselves as such, as I know of no connection with their culture to that of Viking backgrounds. This being said, this doesn't affect the musical quality whatsoever, as you would never guess this is from France. Their theme seems to go more towards Paganism, but you'd never be able to tell, as these lyrics are not in English. Beyond their beliefs, let's discuss their music. Here we have some of the most ambient natured material, with sounds unrepresented in other releases by similar artists. The first track, for example, is the aura of a creaking boat at shore, very haunting... The remainder of the album covers many different moods, while playing generally slow, melodic riffs overtop of perpetual drum madness. Vocally you will hear a mixture between high-pitched growls and some Eastern sounding chants that oddly seem to fit the music. "In The Raven's Shadow" is really impressive, as it shows no limitations, thus creating an experience that has yet to be savored.
-- Lady Enslain