The Elder Land

8 tracks, 45:38

I picked this CD up cheaply from the used CD bin, mainly because of the band being Dutch (support your local underground, etc). Strangely, I hadn't heard of this band before so I had no idea what to expect, although the drakkar/flames/runes on the cover did give an indication of course. Welter is a one man band: "Herr Krieger" does all instruments and vocals.

Overall, the material on this CD is quite amateurish, and at some places unintentionally hilarious. The intro is a chanted 'folky' song about the woods, coasts, moors and the old lowlands. The idea is nice, but unfortunately it sounds like it's sung in the bathroom - which isn't probably the atmosphere Krieger was trying to convey. The rest of the album picks up sounding very fragmentated. The album's incoherency probably has a lot to do with the fact that it was recorded in two separate sessions, but the end result is a disjointed mess, switching from midtempo viking metal songs ("Ingvian Pride", "Bij de Sabelkling") to repetitive Burzum-esque tempi ("Uitgedroogd Bloed"), fast chaotic Black Metal ("Infinite Chaos Ablaze"), an attempt at drunken comedy ("The Law of the North": "if we want, we'll break your nose, the law of the north!"), and a folky outro which sounds like it was ripped straight out of the PC game The Settlers. As a bonus, you'll also get two covers: "Friesche Viking" from Black Art, and "Mourning Soul" from Absurd - the only track with a drum machine.

The album really suffers from a terribly muffled and flat sound, especially the first four tracks; and to add insult to injury, the off-key and uncharismatic vocals of Krieger are a real nuisance (they're also quite hilarious if you're Dutch). Some nice riffs, melodies and ideas are there, but the result is a passable underdeveloped album. It does show some promise for the future though - with some more coherency and a sound better suitable to the music, Welter could well become quite a good Viking Metal band.

1999 sybren