Heltekvad is a relatively new Black Metal band from Denmark, formed by Ole Pedersen Luk (of Afsky fame) and two more musicians who happen to be in the live band for Afsky as well as a few other bands too. Yet, where Afsky has a rather sophisticated sort of approach to the Black Metal genre with long-drawn out tracks, filled with loads of deeply melodic, tremolo picked riff, the Danes went for quite a different musical route with Heltekvad.
Of course there are similarities to be found between Heltekvad and Afsky, after all they are both Black Metal bands, but no Black Metal fan will mention the two in the same breath when it comes to both bands’ musical basis. Heltekvad is more melodic to begin with, but above all, it has a clear background in medieval music and folklore. The melody lines may be a bit more recognisable, but the band does not shy away from adding bits of Folk music that would not be out of place on the better Stille Volk albums of the late 90’s and early 00’s (from the wonderful Holy Records label). This makes for a grandiose piece of dynamics, with the balance never tipping too much to one side at any point – although it should be said that the basis throughout the whole album is firmly rooted in Black Metal and we’re not dealing with a blown-out Folk Metal act. The Black Metal parts can be fiercely sharp or utterly despondent in nature, with lamenting vocals that do enhance the depressing and dismal atmosphere. Yet it never loses its melodicism and the addition of epic brass and other samples/orchestration further pushes the excellent song writing.
The fact that a quality label like Eisenwald is putting this album out, on CD as well as both analogue formats (cassette tape and vinyl), and that for the most part it sold out really quick is exemplary for what Heltekvad is putting on the table. It might not be an overly original ride, but, regardless, the band is definitely offering some utter excellence on this debut album.