For the past three days or so, I have been living and breathing the new Glittertind album after being given an extra-early prelisten and it’s pretty safe to say that this is an album that will get under your skin and remain in your head after listening to it. I’ve even found myself humming lines from songs stuck in my head as I’ve been going about my business in work, which is definitely testament to good songwriting!
Himmelfall sees Glittertind take another slightly different direction after the folk metal approach of Djevelsvart (and the releases before it) and the acoustic folk approach of their most recent offering Blåne for blåne, with this one having more of a ‘folk rock’ feel to it as a whole, with a few extra genres peppered here and there for good measure. The slight shift has really paid off too, as it’s bold and shows versatility – and wouldn’t it be dull if they just made the same album year in year out? The album commemorates 500 years passing since Martin Luther started his rebellion against the church, and 480 years since Protestantism being forced upon Norway, and the vibe and style of the album fits well with the subject matter.
The opening track, Olav Engelbrektsson (who was the last Roman Catholic to be the Archbishop of Norway) is one of those songs that will immediately grab your attention. It has one of those introductions that will give you goosebumps and in those few seconds of piano before the vocals join in, you already know it’s going to be something special. Then when the chorus kicks in, with the full band accompanying for good measure, it hits you like a tonne of bricks! It may only be simplistic (simply the words “Olav Engelbrektsson” repeated) but it really works and gets inexplicably wrapped round your brain, which is exactly what you want from an opening track. And it even features a small appearance of harsh vocals in the latter half of the song, which really leaves an impact!
One thing that works especially well with Himmelfall is the use of trumpet – especially in fourth track Finst ikkje meir, which is one of the highlights of the album. There’s a definite triumphant vibe to it, and the fast pace to it really adds a lot of momentum to things as a whole. Additionally, the trumpet adds a lot of colour to the song and you can’t help but want to smile when listening to it! It’s an energetic number that will get your foot tapping along to it and will worm its way into your head before you even know what’s hit you.
From the more slow-paced acoustic tones of Likvake, to the aforementioned energy of Finst ikkje meir, the massive-sounding latter half of Forføraren (the first single to be revealed from the album) and the Baroque vibes of Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott that will make you feel like you’re back in the seventeenth century, Himmelfall certainly doesn’t shy away from different approaches and it’s an album that will keep you on the edge of your seat because you’re never quite sure what to expect next. The album as a whole is a very coherent piece with a genre of folk-rock at the core but the different styles interwoven into it all keeps things interesting.
All in all, Himmelfall is a brilliant listen and is another fine bit of work from Glittertind, who have by now proven themselves to be a consistently great band no matter what style of music they play. It’s always a pleasure to hear new music from Glittertind, and Himmelfall is another album showcasing this band on top form.