Hailing from Dortmund North-Rhine Westphalia Iron Bonehead Productions presents the first full-length album ‘Heldentod’ by the German black metal formation Grabunhold. What’s so remarkable about the album is the efficiency by which the aggressive and the traditional style of second-wave black metal is achieved. Over the run time of forty-seven minutes, the band draws on epic song structures while the production of the album sounds crystal clear. Grabunhold explores the grim frost-bitten landscapes of pagan black metal. The songs are inspired by Tolkienesque themes of dragons, goblins, and magic. Like the peal of trumpets that has the glorious qualities of epic black metal, the album artwork gives you an impression of a majestic castle in some ancient woodland. ‘Heldentod‘ offers a most memorable album where the music mesmerizingly fuses the grim elements of nineties black metal.
The opening track ‘Wolkenbruch über Amon Sul‘ begins with the strumming of the guitar strings and a cracking thunderstorm before the song takes a rather violent tempo. The guitars bring in abrasive riffs to the hymnal clean vocals paired with storming Viking melodies. ‘Hügelgräberhöhen‘ is nothing short of beautiful. The raw old school aura of the scorching tremolos and grim vocals have that chilling effect to them. The whole atmosphere becomes fierce like a blizzard storm with blast beats and tremolo pickings being displayed. The unfolding majesty ebbs and flows.
Despite the raw, medieval black metal direction, the melodies define the quality of the music. The following track ‘Trommeln in der Tiefe‘ settles in the ambient sound of dungeon synth. This majestic interlude takes inspiration from bands such as early Mortiis, Wongraven, and Burzum. The track is combined with the woodwind instrument and manages to make use of the minimalistic beats of the percussion. Grabunhold gives us a surreal display of a fantasy world where the songs somehow recreate a medieval quality. The musical offering is balanced between the elements of the second wave and also uses the modern style of the tremolo-picked riffs. However, the majority of the songs are structured on melodic tremolos. ‘Heldentod‘ is laden with heavy galloping riffs, although the harmonizing guitars on ‘Flammen und Schatten‘ have that modern aspect. The quality of the tremolos is quite similar to the method of the Canadian black metal bands such as Forteresse and Cantique Lépreux. Therefore, the album has two facets that offer the old and modern style of black metal.
All wrapped in epic majesty, the German quartet takes a major step in their career as they convey a perfect example of how such an ancient style can be attained. There aren’t many contemporary bands within the black metal genre today that have a sound close to Grabunhold. There are many catchy songs that feature some acoustic guitars and clean vocals such as ‘Morgenröte am Pelennor‘. The wonderful melodies interlace the dark patterns. Later on, the track becomes dominated by the swift drum pace. In this track rhythm and melodies entwine while the drumming takes a mid-tempo direction, with vivid melodies surging through the song textures and creating many memorable moments. Unlike most of the black metal bands that rely on creating a lush atmosphere, Grabunhold sticks to the roots. ‘Fangorns Erwachen‘ reaches its zenith with all the speed and velocity transitioning from mid-tempo to blast beats. The galloping riffs are outstanding, making it the most powerful element of the album. Blazing tremolos bring the quality of the cold icy lead guitars and remain right on the forefront.
‘In tiefen Verliesen‘ follows the same formula of the fast-paced tempo and contains some memorable rhythm guitar. The outstanding talent of the German quartet wonderfully illustrates emotive melodies on the closing track ‘Der Einsamkeit letzter Streiter‘. Grabunhold blends the rich tremolo pickings to provide an emotional hook while the lead guitars add a beautiful texture to the song. ‘Heldentod‘ evokes the modern and traditional style of second-wave. Its great songwriting skills create an overwhelming sense of dreary melodies. Nevertheless, the vibrant quality along the vital lead guitars all add a beautiful composition to the layering of the song. ‘Heldentod‘ comes as a high recommendation for fans of pagan black metal.
Release Date: January 22nd, 2021
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
- Wolkenbruch über Amon Sul
- Trommeln in der Tiefe
- Flammen und Schatten
- Morgenröte am Pelennor
- Fangorns Erwachen
- In tiefen Verliesen
- Der Einsamkeit letzter Streiter