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Monday, October 18, 2021

Review: Havamal – The Shadow Chapter

Date: May 21st, 2021

Label: Art Gates Records

An absolute winner of the genre for 2021, Swedish Havamal!

With no intention to compare Havamal with any other band, I will only say, the band proved that it is still possible to mix Viking, black, power and death metal in the vein of best bends of a genre. Spiced with great melodies, masterful orchestrations and choirs, catchy riffs, theatrical live approach this album will provide a complete and unforgettable journey.

“The Shadow Chapter” is the second full length for Swedes after their debut “Tales from Yggdrasil” (2019, Art Gates Records). The album contains nine songs. Amazing “The North Awakens”, atmospheric intro, will lead us to the epic Nordic adventure. It is clear from the song titles that the band is dealing with Norse mythology. “Fenris” immortalizes the monstrous wolf of Norse. Son of demoniac god Loki and a giantess, Angerboda. The song itself sets the standard for the whole album. “Nighoggor” is followed by the official video released on March 24th, sang about the dragon snake, the whole atmosphere is completed with great melodic keyboard parts.

Kraken, legendary sea monster of gigantic size and cephalopod-like appearance in Scandinavian folklore, terrorizes sailors of the coasts of Norway and Greenland. The song “Kraken” is also followed by the video released on April 21st. Even if it is “only” lyrics video, the animation is very good and depicts a dramatic atmosphere.

“Underneath the waves, an ancient monster awaits, from a time that even the aesirs fear, deep below where hel is near, a watery death awaits whomewer comes there, Kraken dreaded by mortal mind, king of squids your ship will find, and drag you down into its domain…”

“Empire of the Ashen Sun” delivers a bit of Eastern sound, drum intro and choirs simply did a great job. Symphonic parts just rounded the song pretty well.

“The Nornir’s Call”, delivers a pretty chaotic atmosphere. I would say as expected since here we are dealing with deities responsible for shaping the course of human destinies. Here, Havamal included a bit of melodic death well balanced with symphonic sound.

“Jormungandr”, the middle child of Loki and the giantess Angrboða. The song delivers excellent orchestral intro, includes dramatical parts, powerful melody. 

Welcome to the world of dead! “Hel”! Official cartoon lyrics video was released on May 5th, and it gives you a brief lesson of Norse mythology. The sound itself is diverse, blackened symphonic elements interfere with Viking and death metal, and if you have not realized by now, you are facing a masterpiece!

In the end, we have a story about “Grendel”, a demonic entity that has appeared in both Scandinavian, German, and British mythology in the story of Beowulf. “The Curse of Grendel” with its intro, growl vocal and epic melody will perfectly close “The Shadow Chapter”.

Described in one word, “The Shadow Chapter” is a colorful, perfect blend of Viking, black, death, folk and power metal. The band offers enough material to close your eyes and sail away into the world of Norwegian mythology.

In more than one word, “The Shadow Chapter” has the great composition, great developed story, lyrics, great guitar sound, great drumming, great orchestration, great cinematic atmosphere, aggressive vocals, great arrangements. The album is compact, takes you from one story to another, without leaving space for boredom. To all those with great imagination, the album concept gives enough space to lean on your chair, close your eyes and revive great Nordic mythology.  If you haven’t noticed, the word great is not written at least ten times with any intention. In the abundance of epithets running through my head listening to this album (majestic, epic, gigantic, glorious, spectacular, exciting…), somehow the simplest one-great, stands out. And it is an outstanding album.