Helgrind – Return to Motherland

Any time I sit down to listen to anything tagged with “pagan”, mostly pagan black metal, it always feels like it’s hit or miss when it comes to the overall enjoyment of the record at hand since it can often feel like many just use the tagline as a way to draw people into for a sound that barely touches on anything related to the word. So, when a band actually does come around that brings those pagan flavors on in full force it’s a creation that demands attention and fair play. Immediately, it’s with their latest that Helgrind proves to have created just such a work.

The operative part of what makes this performance deserving of that “pagan” description is the fact that Helgrind doesn’t just leave it as a mere theme throughout the album that either barely impacts the music itself or just acts as a vehicle for the lyrics to be inherently more interesting. Almost right out of the damn gate, it’s clear that “Return to Motherland” does so much more than dive head-first into the pagan themes with the implementation of Nordic instruments being one of the few things lacking from this performance to make it something that many would consider a “true pagan experience”, but in no way does that result in this performance being anything less than a damn good listen by all accounts. The whole of “Return to Motherland” is overflowing with riffs and hooks around virtually every corner as the lyrics are simply swimming in those pagan themes as the instruments lend themselves gloriously to enable these nine tracks to not only be deserving of the tag but they do nothing but bring absolute majesty to the style in a way that cannot be denied in any of its forms, and I’ll be damned if Helgrind’s surprising performance goes unheralded after I’ve witnessed the glory that’s on full display here. Sure, “Return to Motherland” is far from the greatest work of the style that I’ve heard in any capacity, but just to see a band actually do the concept justice is worthy of commendation in my opinion and with severe competence and talent to back up this release, I find it downright difficult to not fall into this album and bear witness to the excellence that is Helgrind.

Any band that can bring the right amount of paganism to their work and tout it like its an honor rather than some sexy description to draw more people in always has something going for it, and to say that Helgrind has done just that would be to greatly understate what they’ve done here. “Return to Motherland” proves Helgrind is onto a sound that is destined for greatness should they continue down the path they’ve already started to lay forth before them with everything that’s accomplished all throughout “Return to Motherland”.

LISTEN to “Return to Motherland” on Bandcamp here.

LIKE Helgrind on Facebook here.

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