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Helheim: Raunijar

Bergen’s predictably unpredictable Vikings return

It’s probably wrong to say that Helheim are underrated considering their strong following online, but it’s hard not to feel that these Bergen boys don’t quite get the credit they deserve for their innovation and creativity.

Their discography offers bold leaps in songwriting while switching between electronic augmentation and more organic approaches. You’re never quite sure what to expect from a Helheim record and the opening song, Helheim 9, raises eyebrows suitably high. It’s a strange but rewarding folk opus that nods toward Wardruna yet also drops in the unmistakable voice of Alfahanne frontman Pehr Skjoldhammer – a wonderfully idiosyncratic touch.

While more traditional black folk riffing and vocals are periodically evident on raujinaR, it’s a frequently restrained work. Clean sung and spoken vocals rise to the fore and a very understated sense of drama defines the compositions, the earthy, stirring songwriting complemented by subtle texturing and a myriad of instrumentation.

Some sung vocals could be stronger, but this is a mature and convincing opus.