Kampfar - _Heimgang_
(Napalm Records, 2008)
by: Jackie Smit (
Just so we're clear, I've never been too hot on the idea of the pagan / Viking movement -- whether underpinned by black metal or otherwise. Call it a clash of aesthetics, but I find the whole idea of grown men prancing around in costume armour and swords a tad lame or, as Impaled's Jason Kocol put it in a recent interview, an excuse for drunk, overweight men to act tougher than they really are. Still, it would be hypocritical of me to impugn an entire subgenre, and musically at least, the niche has coughed up an impressive array of near-classics. Thyrfing's last effort was a prime example of this, as indeed was the vast majority of Enslaved's back catalogue.While Norway's Kampfar have never quite been in the same league as those two, what they have been able to do is demonstrate consistent improvement on all fronts over the course of their fourteen year existence, not least of all on 2006's _Kvass_. Their latest, _Heimgang_, isn't quite the stepping stone that its predecessor was, but there's no need for it to be either. All the elements that have made Kampfar such a thoroughly enjoyable prospect are remain vividly intact: the molten, rough-edged production, the undercurrent of folk and classical influences and the shimmering, coal-black atmospheres; all are on parade from the moment that "Inferno" sounds the shrill battle-cry of the album's arrival. With quality of this calibre in abundance, they're welcome to pretend to be whatever they feel like, quite frankly.
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