To Hell Or Kingdom Come

Written by: PP on 03/03/2022 00:35:59

Danish folk metallers Heidra have been slowly but surely growing their following over the years after successful tour slots with Ensiferum and Korpiklaani some years back. For their third album "To Hell Or Kingdom Come", they've also opted to make some stylistic adjustments to their sound, where you could argue that folk metal has taken more of a subdued background role compared to the driver's seat it was on previous albums. Instead, Heidra is now looking firmly towards Sweden and the rest of the Nordics for thunderous, glorious battle cries not far from the likes of Amon Amarth, Svartsot, and Ensiferum, while also incorporating heft amounts of Germanic heavy metal into the mix.

With thick pummeling courtesy of Fleshgod Apocalypse's Francesco Paoli behind the drumkit, Heidra opens the record with "Retribution's Dawn", an eight-minute mammoth that captures the essence of their new sound thoroughly in one song. Tapped leads and twin guitar harmonies look towards the Gothenburg melodeath scene of the 90s, whilst the vocals are spread between thick, black metal-esque shrieks and vibrato-driven heavy metal cleans. More often than not, these feature memorable choruses and appear designed with arenas (and perhaps Copenhell or Wacken) in mind.

In terms of folk metal, we're down to a few bouncy guitar riffs that differentiate Heidra from your usual Gothenburg-style melodeath and Germanic heavy metal band. But rest assured, the genre is in a lesser role than in the past, now functioning primarily as a thematic tool rather than a stylistic driver. It's a gamble, but one that pays off here as most songs feature glorious, larger-than-life heavy metal melodies, where particularly "Two Kings" impresses with its expansive chorus. But at the same time, the harsh growls and shrieks ensure we're never in cliché territory. I shouldn't say this, but songs like "Fall Of The Fey" are exactly what Defecto has been trying to write in vain for multiple albums now - and here Heidra demonstrates just how effortlessly better their approach to the same genre is thanks to its melodeath edge.

Overall, "To Hell Or Kingdom Come" features great songwriting within heavy metal. Heidra showcases their ability to steer clear of the worst clichés and instead provide material ready for the large stages without sacrificing their metallic soul. At almost fifty-two minutes, the record does have a song or two that could've been cut ("Ancient Gates", for instance, is rather anonymous) to move the brilliant "Two Kings" ahead on the record given how anthemic its chorus is, especially given how well it is contrasted by piano and thick percussion. But those are minor gripes from what is a solid heavy metal album that should be turning some heads on its release next month.

Download: Retribution's Dawn, Two Kings, Dusk, Fall Of The Fey
For the fans of: Ensiferum, Korpiklaani, Turisas, Defecto, Svartsot
Listen: Facebook

Release date 08.04.2022
Mighty Music

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