Release DetailsLABEL Adipocere
RELEASED ON 1/26/2005
posted on 5/2005 By:
The term French Black Metal may be a red flag for many of you out there. No doubt a few virgin ears have been torn asunder by the trumped-up blastfuckery of “Les Legions Noir” members like Vlad Tepes. Similarly your trepidation may come from subjection to pedantic tirades on the virtues of awful beehive metal courtesy of some chat room denizen. Fear not children, Himinbjorg is not after cult status nor are they striving to produce a brand of music reserved for those with deviant taste. The oft-silly but never exhausted topic of Vikingry is the focus of Europa. What outside of total fanboyism could explain a French band taking on a Nordic subject matter you ask? The idea may seem a bit strange but let us not forget the one redeeming quality of the French people: The Normans are the result of Viking raids and William the bastard kicked the ever-loving shit out of England. That said, I have no clue if the men of Himinbjorg are from Normandy but at least there is a possibility of justification outside the blatant worship of Viking imagery.
Ostensibly a shameless tribute band but with enough spark to make them enjoyable in their own right, Himinbjorg are doing their damnedest to channel the spirit of Blood Fire Death. Opening the album with a song entitled, “Entering Odin’s Huge Palace” should help give you the sense that a general feeling of clumsiness both in subject matter and execution tends to permeate the album. Allow me to better illustrate. Only about two thirds of Europa’s tracks are actual songs. The album is rife with intros and intermissions; these range from mildly inappropriate ambient works to downright strange masses of guitar squeals and pick slides. When one arrives at an actual set of songs held together with continuity, there is an odd feeling that the band was aiming for Quorthon and somehow overshot, landing half embedded in the territory occupied by bands like Neurosis. The result (intentional?) is unsettling. Textual and aural ques give me the impression that what I am hearing should be epic, but instead the underpinning is often dismal, somber and done in a heavy handed fashion. Not all the time mind you, “It was in Europe” nails down the Hammerheart experience admirably but the strange combination of what is expected and what I end up with pops up often enough to make it worth mentioning.
Having established the possibility that Viking Metal may be a bit of non sequitur here, I turn from abstract analysis to the concrete conclusion driven question; does this formula work? How immune to attention deficit disorder are you? Fuckoff to answering questions with yet more questions but this really is an album with an identity crisis. Pure triumphs of the epic style like “The Law of Worship” would have you believe that these descendants of the sun king could stand toe to toe with the likes of Moonsorrow and the record’s suitably crisp production exudes the sense potential one would associate with a contender. Nevertheless, thar be rot within these walls. Not so much that the house is going to come down around your ears but enough that you can smell it upon entering and to the extent that I would certainly not want to live here. A bit lacking in focus, a bit abundant in similar sounding songs, but certainly full of desire; here be average music not for lack of trying.
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