It was with great anticipation that I awaited the arrival of KAMPFAR's new album, "Heimgang". Fortunately, it would not be a seven-year wait, as was the case when 2006's outstanding "Kvass" hit the streets. I was especially anxious to hear whether the Norwegians would actually be able to top the album, which was one of my favorites of 2006; although I knew it would be an incredibly difficult feat. "Kvass" is absolutely mesmerizing and reveals the niche that KAMPFAR occupies in the world of folk/pagan black metal (probably more accurately described in the Napalm press release as "Pagan Folklore Metal").As it turns out, "Heimgang" does not top "Kvass", in part because the bar was set so high and in part because it doesn't quite capture the magic in the way that its predecessor does. Where "Kvass" locked into a groove at the start and kept the listener entranced throughout, while infusing its compositions with endearingly peculiar musical shades, "Heimgang" alternates several strong cuts with more workmanlike compositions. That is not to say that "Heimgang" is not a worthy successor or another fine example of the KAMPFAR style. It most certainly is both! In fact, there may be some that find "Heimgang" to be the better album; it all depends on your point of view. "Heimgang" still shines as a good release for some of the same reasons that "Kvass" does, a primary one the manner in which KAMPFAR translates a minimalist guitar-bass-drum-vocal approach into songs that seem to pour out of the speakers and sweep the listener away. Once again, there is a certain mesmeric quality in the way that KAMPFAR takes a rolling folk guitar line and a galloping beat and contrasts it with Dolk's rough hewn vocal croaks, typically sung in Norwegian. Dolk regales us here with tales about "crossing over into the underworld, as told in Nordic myths and legends". Though "Heimgang" in its entirety doesn't lift the listener up and keep him/her suspended in mid air for the entire duration, there are at least a handful of stellar songs with varying tempos and captivating cadences. "Dodens Vee", "Inferno", and "Skogens Dyp" are all quality compositions very much in the vein of KAMPFAR's best material. A few colorful twists help too, such as on bookends "Vantro" (the ominous guitar line) and "Vandring" (the melancholy sway), as well as "Vettekult" (matching lighter, breezy chords with a driving tempo). In the way of summation then, "Heimgang" is another strong effort from KAMPFAR. It just does not ascend to the heights attained on "Kvass".
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