A while ago, Einherjer released their 8th studio album “North Star”. So what does the album sound like and what are the thoughts of co-founder and drummer Gerhard Storesund on the album and the band? We went and found out!
The album North Star starts with “The Blood and the Iron”. It’s a powerful track, dark and groovy at the same time, with Frodes signature vocals guiding us through it. It’s an energetic and promising start. It has a very nice music video as well!
The second track “Stars” stands out on this album. To me, it sounds most like the real Einherjer. Interestingly, Gerhard told me that this is the only song that they came up with spontaneously by jamming all evening. Usually, they write and record the songs on their own and continue together from there, but in the case of “Stars” it really was a more organic process. I’m happy they did, because it produced the – in my eyes – best track of the album.
The next track is catchy right away, and what’s in a name, it’s the “West Coast Groove”. Not the West Coast of the USA, no, the West Coast of Norway. The members of Einherjer are very proud of the area where they live – they cherish their Norwegian heritage. Frode and Gerhard hail from Haugesund, a small city on the (surprise!) west coast of Norway. If you should find yourself in the area, Gerhard recommended visiting the reconstructed Viking Settlement (where they shot the video for their opening track “The Blood and the Iron”). Also the nature in the area in general is very inspiring according to Gerhard, and definitely worth a visit, and listen to “West Coast Groove” while you’re there, of course.
After this Norse “party” it’s time to get serious again. The over seven minutes long “Ascension” takes care of this. Gerhards drums are strong and catchy, the guitar is melodic and best of all, I love the lyrics. Together with “Echoes in Blood” they are the only lyrics by Gerhard – Frode wrote all the others. These lyrics by Gerhard offer a bit more depth and philosophical approach – in the case of Ascension combined with some nice solos. You might think it would make sense to write the lyrics in Norwegian, considering they vale their Norwegian culture so much. However, the entire album is in English.
When I asked Gerhard about this, he said that they never purposeful chose to do the lyrics in English, it just happened. The big advantage is, of course, that this way, all fans can understand the lyrics, not just the Norwegian fans. That way, the lyrics take a more important role in the music. Frode and Gerhard never used to get so much questions about the meaning of their lyrics when they were all in Norwegian. That makes sense!
The album continues with a deliciously pounding track by the name of “Higher Fire” with strong, short lyrics and some nice solos – the track has a real Einherjer feel to it and I imagine this song will do well live!
“Echoes in Blood” shows a lot of diversity in style combined with interesting lyrics: “My heart, it lingers in past forgotten fame / Your name, the heroes remembered without shame / My hands, they tremble no longer / This knot, it loosens, and shows me I am stronger.”
Another somewhat longer track on the album (although Moonsorrow fans will probably laugh at this) is “Listen to the Graves” with just short of seven minutes. It starts with an ominous slow opening before continuing in a fast pace, some nice baselines and screaming guitar solos. The chorus gets closest to the clean vocal choruses I like from albums like Norrøn and Av Oss, For Oss. More about that later on.
About the closing track of the album, “Chasing the Serpent”, Gerhard said: you either love it or you hate it. Personally, I belong to the latter group. Although it definitely has some nice aspects – melodic guitar solo, a nice midtempo pace, it didn’t do it for me.
Even though I really enjoyed the latest Einherjer album and I would definitely recommend it to both established Einherjer-fans and new listeners, I did feel something was missing on “North Star”. When I spoke to Gerhard about it, he agreed with me that a melodic track with epic choruses, like for example “Balladen om Nifrost” on Norrøn, is absent on the new album. To me, that left a slightly unsatisfied feeling after the album ended.
Every new album needs to be presented to a live audience by way of a release party. Einherjer even states on their website how important live performancing is for their music: “Our art comes from a spoken culture – a musical culture – and it is from the stage it shall be conveyed.” Obviously, this year, that might prove to be tricky, if not impossible. But thankfully, the Norwegian regulations did allow for a seated concert with a limited amount of visitors. When I asked Gerhard about this concert, he sounded quite pleased with the concert and he said he had enjoyed himself. Obviously, it was a strange experience without the cheering, headbang and moshing. The audience had to remain seated and appreciation had to be shown by clapping. But since both Gerhand and Frode have made it clear that live streaming is no alternative for them, it seems to me that this was an acceptable solution.
For us unlucky ones who didn’t have the opportunity to be there, well, we can only hope that it will soon be possible to enjoy Einherjer live on stage! Until then, I’ll just listen to “North Star” over and over..
A big thank you goes to Gerhard, for the very interesting conversation we had about the new album, their Norwegian heritage, the lyrics and nature.
Album rating: 9/10
Record label: Napalm Records
1. The Blood And The Iron
3. West Coast Groove
5. Higher Fire
6. Echoes in Blood
7. Listen to the Graves
8. Chasing the Serpent