The latest album causing a rift within the underground elite is French sextet Vindland’s debut, Hanter Savet. This isn’t happening by accident either. Vindland’s unique blend of melodic black metal and triumphant Viking metal is a refreshing diversion from the typical, trve kvlt sound we normally find coming out of France. The sound of Hanter Savet is reminiscent of Windir but the guitar riffs have the catchiness and classic sound of Sargeist or Taake.
Vindland manages to create a triumphant and heroic sound without relying on the use of folk instruments the way so many bands do today. The simplicity of their formula is what makes this release so charming. Being a sextet enables the band to create a really full, almost orchestral kind of sound. The wall of dissonance Vindland is able to create is pretty remarkable.
The album opens predictably, with a formulaic black metal riff. A lot of the album sounds like tailor-made, melodic black metal, but Vindland differentiates themselves by cleaning up the guitar parts and injecting affecting, instrumental passages throughout the album that send listeners on an emotional joyride deviating from victorious to tortured.
The production is clean but maintains an underlying grittiness that is often lost among the more melodic bands. The album’s true strength is in its atmosphere. The Tolkien lyrical themes are a bit played out, but at least no one can accuse the band of being pretentious. This is pure, unadulterated viking/black metal; unafraid to be fucking nerdy or glorious.
Skeud Ar Gwez is a particularly interesting addition to this album. Its slow and haunting, DSBM intro progresses into a full on dissonance that perfectly coalesces with an almost power metal essence, only to end with the same melancholy that opened the track. The track practically tells a story. In true epic fashion, the album ends with a bonus track, which I find rather quaint. Although Vindland merely added to a saturated zeitgeist of melodic black metal, they did it with an expertise that earns them an instantaneous spot amongst the best in the genre. Hanter Savet is a must listen for 2016.