By Dr. Abner Mality
The Dutch pagan warriors return to battle after a 5 year layoff. They’ve always been one of my favorite pagan/folk metal outfits...they seem to have just the right mixture of bone-crunching metal and stirring Viking touches. “Wederkeer” means “return” in Dutch and you can apply it to this record in more ways than one.
The heavy duty metallic stuff is all front-loaded on the first half of the album. “Hagalaz” kicks things off with clean but crunchy metal and the trademark “two vocal” approach. “Drink met de Goden” translates as “drink with the gods” and the song follows suit with plenty of lusty bellowing vocals like a rowdy night down at the Viking pub. The mix of ancient sounding vocal lines and driving metal is what HEIDEVOLK does best. They’re not as progressive and strange as ENSLAVED but there are some similarities here.
With “Oeros”, we get some sober, sonorous vocal lines and a bit of a darker tone. That signals the beginning of the second half of the album and now the folk elements get way more pronounced, as the entirely acoustic title track and “Zomervuur” demonstrate. The band put a lot of feeling into these songs, but I have to say, they don’t hit me as hard as the lumbering “Raidho” with its doomy riffs and really catchy singalong vocals.
I have to say “Wederkeer” finds HEIDEVOLK in a bit of a holding pattern, as it is a quality album but not one that sets up any kind of a paradigm shift. It is a lateral move for the band, if that makes sense, but there’s still plenty to like with its mixture of ancient and modern.