Sunday 24 October 2021

Grabunhold - Heldentod


Labels: Iron Bonehead Productions/Urtod Void

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 22 Jan 2021


1. Wolkenbruch Uber Amon Sul

2. Auf Den Hugelgraberhohen

3. Trommeln In Der Tiefe

4. Flammen Und Schatten

5. Morgenrote Am Pelennor

6. Fangorns Erwachen

7. In Tiefen Verliesen

8. Der Einsamkeit Letzter Streiter

In my recent Black Cilice review I said that I wanted to revisit a couple of earlier Iron Bonehead releases from 2021. The first of which is this, the first full-length from German black metal band Grabunhold. Heldentod was released back in January on vinyl, cd and digital formats via IBP, while Urtod Void released a tape version. Grabunhold formed in 2016 and released a demo and an EP previously. The latter was also released via IBP.

I’ve always found German black metal to be amongst the most austere of the genre, but Grabunhold exhibits something altogether different. Heldentod opener ‘Wolkenbruch Uber Amon Sul’ is filled with glorious melody in it’s intro before the quartet opens up their full arsenal. It’s a cross between speed, war and atmospheric black metal, at least in the instrumentation. The vocals are a mix of rasping growls and clean singing, all in their native tongue. ‘Auf De Hugelgraberhohen’ is hauntingly stirring all the way through. It’s one of the shorter songs on the album and that serves it well. Even though it’s brief in comparison to others on here, the instrumentation it contains is still extremely impressive. That’s one of the elements that stands out when listening to Grabunhold for me.

There are traditional instruments/sounds used within the album as well, as the ambient/droning ‘Trommeln In Der Tiefe’ highlights. It’s spoken word lyrics and minimalistic approach show how much variation the band are willing to display and it helps to create an album that flows really well. The melodic riffs that are employed throughout the album are one of the reasons it is so engaging and on ‘Flammen Und Schatten’ they are delivered with a nod to European melo-death, though that may have not been the original intention. That’s how they sound before the full band kicks in anyway. What follows is a transfixing black metal song with true feeling at it’s core.

The cinematic atmosphere of the album is magnified on ‘Morgenrote Am Pelennor’, which demands that you listen to every subtle nuance, from the layers of instrumentation to the vocals. Heldentod is one of the most diverse and interesting black metal albums I’ve heard in recent times and it makes me want to dive deeper into the modern German scene as well. That can’t be a bad thing for a record to do can it! The upbeat tempos of ‘Fangorns Erwachen’ definitely get the blood flowing. There’s a real sense of urgency to Grabunhold here and it’s great. A purer black metal song this time, but one that doesn’t detract from what makes Heldentod what it is, which is extremely well-written and well delivered.

Going back to my point about Grabunhold sometimes veering towards melo-death, they do seem to have subtle Scandinavian influences within their music and it’s noticeable on penultimate song ‘In Tiefen Verliesen’ at times. Again that’s what I hear, you may hear it differently but that’s the fun of music at the end of the day. Overall, it’s yet another strong, melodic black metal song. Like Heldentod’s opener, the closing song ‘Der Einsamkeit Letzer Streiter’ stands at nearly nine minutes in length and it towers over everything else with it’s majesty and atmosphere. It’s a triumphant way for Grabunhold to round out this record, letting their instrumentation take centre stage one final time. 

This was a real surprise. I wasn’t expecting this release to be as good as it is. Grabunhold are talented in every respect and deserve to be held in the same regard as black metal’s biggest bands, if not higher. That may sound hyperbolic but that’s how much I enjoyed Heldentod. The German black metal rabbit hole awaits!

You can stream and buy Heldentod digitally, as well as on cd and vinyl below:-

Grabunhold -

Physical copies can also be purchased from the labels below:-

Iron Bonehead Productions -

Urtod Void -

Iron Bonehead Productions -

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