Power of Metal.dk Review

The Glorious Dead
Style: Viking Metal
Release date: 20 October, 2014
Playing time: 48:27

Danish Viking Metal band Vanir has released their third album, continuing the band's tradition of fully embracing the viking and battle themes that have been with them since their inception. While the album boasts some more brief stylistic influences from other melodic metal genres, it stays in familiar territory largely throughout. This isn't a bad thing at all, as the band's playing is so well performed and the song writing is so strong that it is clear that this band has a mature cohesion and and is very aware of how to innovate in spades without destroying their previous musical and stage image.

The typical line-up with guitars, bass, vocals, and drums is freshened up with Sara Oddershede's Scottish highland bagpipes, incidentally a traditional war instrument. It would be safe to say that the bagpipes, while certainly not the loudest instrument in the mix, are the driving force much of the melodic and even, at times, rhythmic direction of the music. This is made clear from the first minute and there are only a handful of times the lead guitars are given the spotlight. In this musical context, it works extremely well. While the bagpipes are consistently strong throughout the nine songs, the standout performance is on "The Flames of Lindisfarne," where the bagpipes are pushed more to the front of the mix and the entire band just really revolves around the it leading the breakdown, with brilliantly supporting rhythm guitars. It just really puts a smile to the face as it's that good, and moments like this happen in spades throughout. That said, it's unfortunate that the bagpipes can also just be difficult to hear at times, even when there is definitely something interesting going on.

The vocals, which are entirely grunts, work within the context of the music and there is a definite versatility in the performance, but at times the singular grunting style feels limiting especially when the band occasionally takes a few moments to slow down the pace and turn some of the distortion down. Still, it definitely fits, and the occasional lyrics referring to barbaric warfare are a delight to hear be screamed, really conjuring up a brutal image befitting of the album cover. The other instrumentalists are solid and sound great.

The nine songs all manage to find a distinct identity despite the relative lack of experimentation. The running time is actually just about perfect - right when the album starts to sound repetitive, bordering on reusing melodies and rhythms in a way that doesn't sound like it's supposed to be a motif, it promptly ends. It doesn't overstay its welcome and it left me wanting more. The song structures are varied and there isn't a single weak song, but "I Valkyriernes Skød" probably has the highest concentration of the album's strongest moments. There are times where the influences of black, thrash, and groove metal pop up, and all the better for it.

"The Glorious Dead" is another strong entry for Vanir and is a very enjoyable listen, if not revolutionary. The band is very skilled at their art and the expression of brutality in music and style is just fun all around.

01. Fall of the Eagle
02. March of the Giants
03. Written in Blood
04. The Glorious Dead
05. I Valkyriernes Skød
06. Overlord
07. The Flames of Lindisfarne
08. Blood Sacrifice

09. God Emperor
Label: Mighty Music
Distribution: Target (Denmark)
Artwork rating: 80/100
Reviewed by: Frank Mondelli
Date: 6 November, 2014
Website: www.facebook.com/vanirdenmark