Review: Heidra – The Blackening Tide

Heidra, named after I presume the Icelandic word for glorify, is a multi-genre metal band hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark, which was formed back in 2006. Of the original line-up only vocalist/acoustic guitarist Morten Bryld and guitarist Martin W. Jensen are still part of the band. Having seen a heap of members come and go, the current line-up is completed by guitarist Carlos G.R., drummer Dennis Stockmarr and bassist James H. Atkin. Since their formation the band has released two demos, an EP and one full-length, Awaiting Dawn which dates back to 2014 building on their live reputation along the way. Last October they have added a new chapter to their discography with The Blackening Tide, their second full-length album which is to be considered the sequel of Awaiting Dawn, picking up the narrative started there. Music-wise this story is backed by a mix of melodic metal with strong power, black and folk metal influences, peppered with subtle characteristics of quite a few other metal subgenres.

Opener Dawn initially throws you off track with its relatively peaceful start where an acoustic guitar accompanied by a friendly tom-tom rhythm serves as an introduction to Morten’s relaxing vocals. That however isn’t long-lived, because after a couple of minutes the song takes a more nasty turn, when the vocals turn to growls and the music follows in a similar fashion, turning much heavier, only to return to the initial peacefulness. This process is repeated throughout the song, making this a song with a true Jekyll and Hyde appearance. Next up is The Price in Blood where the power and folk metal take control and fight for domination, blasting a beast of a song through your speakers. Of course no battle album is complete without the inevitable power ballad, an obligation with which the guys from Heidra have no problem whatsoever fulfilling as is proven with Rain of Embers. Even though it’s not a full-blown traditional power ballad, it’s a bit too powerful for that, it has quite a few features that easily qualifies this strong, emotional song as one. The power and accessory speed is restored with Lady of the Shade and A Crown of Five Fingers which, even though not particularly innovative composition-wise, are two above average songs. They each come with a few nice twists, the most notable of which being the interesting guitar loop that emphasizes the atmosphere of heroism and warfare.

And then the title track sets in, a song that, like the album opener, starts rather peaceful with an acoustic intro framing soothing clean vocal lines before taking a nastier turn as well when Morten opens his arsenal of growls once again. This of course darkens the atmosphere somewhat. Then, seemingly random and out of nowhere a piano is added into the mix, giving it a weirdly ominous feel, strengthened by the addition of choirs backing the vocal lines perfectly. A worthy title track in my opinion! When its final tones die out, there’s the realization that there’s sadly only two songs left, starting with Corrupted Shores. It’s a slower song that patiently builds towards a flaming end, signaled by, again, the tones of a piano. The album ends with the magnum opus Hell’s Depths, a song that not only catches the essence of the band and their music in one single song, but also manages to display all the variety and genre-defying excursions that are to be found in Heidra’s music. What a way to end an album.

With The Blackening Tide the guys from Heidra not only delivered their best work to date, they also made sure they set some very high standards for themselves, which won’t be easily matched, let alone surpass. Their multi-genre melodic metal will appeal to a wide variety of metal fans and their quality and skills could very well make them a major player in the metal genre in general and the folk/power metal in particular. They may not be there just yet, but if they manage to keep this up that is only a matter of time.

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