This may appear as a well-kept secret to some readers but actually it is not. Despite the fact that HULDER appeared just a bit more than two years ago (2018) in this short lifespan has generated three demos, an EP and two singles, each one more ambitious than its predecessor so far. As result, this one-woman-black-metal act immediately attracted the attention of the underground tribes. Surely, ambition should be made of sterner stuff. So, is this an ambitious release for a first full-length record? It goes way beyond that. It is an epic masterpiece and a daemonic magnum opus.
Inspired by a raw mix of dark ages Europe aesthetics and Nordic folklore the debut album of HULDER resembles the unforgiving fist of a medieval iron gauntlet. She swung and swayed her longsword long enough with her previous works like the Embraced by darkness mysts EP. Now, Godslastering: Hymns of a forlorn peasantry is the heavy shiny blade’s assault coming down.
In this album the multi-instrumentalist from Belgium, now living in Portland, has crafted a brilliant one-woman-black-metal record; The front woman of BLEEDER (aka Hulder in this act’s context) executes magnificently everything recorded, other than session drums which is performed by Necreon. Guitars with tremolo picking, bass blasts and especially synth/keyboard are masterfully played; then all brought together making up a kind of signature sound. Vocals are exemplary too, ranging from black metal shrieking screams to death metal growls. And then, there are the blacker-than-black ungodly lyrics that unchain this album’s full potential to the dedicated listener.
In just under forty minutes and with eight tracks Marz Riesterer achieves to deliver quite a gem of medieval black metal combining endless wars on barren soil with the tranquility of moonlit paths, thus making Godslastering (for short!) destined to become one of underground’s gravity wells for this year, pulling everything towards its center.
The record starts with “Upon frigid winds” an aggressive black metal bombard employing the style of past decades while the following track «Creature of demonic majesty» serves as the catchy piece of this album with its almost 80’s heavy metal pace and black’n’roll rhythm. Despite its brutal and overwhelming black metal-ness, there are long moments, lengthy parts like in “Down in barren soil” as well as in “A forlorn of peasant’s hymn” (its first two-minutes long part is pure saddened bliss) and even whole pieces of keyboard ambient bliss where the listener will be deceived as if this is a pseudo-black metal. It is not, as they increasingly add dungeon synth depth to Godslastering, giving it the right musical breadth to shine sharply within the self-creating pitch-black abyss. Here, “De Dijle” stands out as a unique blend of natural sounds, fantastic synth-keys, acoustic melodies and crushing vocals. Understandably enough, these elements make this record radiate like an Aurora Borealis to the fringes of a more atmospheric black metal sound but without losing its medieval grandeur of the old continent’s darkest past. To add more to this album’s complexity, atmospheric pieces like “Purgations of bodily corruptions” follow a mid-tempo pattern until they almost graciously fade only to be followed by speedier, more evil, old school blasting sound like “Lowland famine”.
I cannot be sure of what lies ahead. HULDER has shown that is capable of stellar output and I am already waiting for the next release of her project. A split album with another like-minded emerging underground act would be the stuff of dreams; many names come to mind, but it is not my business to suggest.
Godslastering: Hymns of a forlorn peasantry is a must-have release for all die-hard black metal heathen and I am pretty certain most of them already have it in some form. Even so, despite its exact and trade-mark “underground-ness” it feels as it wants to appeal to a just wider audience of people seeking to enter a place reserved for those who are deeply initiated. And to come full circle, in this aspect, it is a bold and ambitious debut full album; in my view it is the first true milestone album across all extreme genres for 2021.
I dare to go a step further. If the underground black metal scenes, for there are many, in both sides of the ocean seek more proportional representation, then they need more people like Marz Riesterer. No “buts” and no “ifs”. Just relentless crushing riffs of pure majestic blackness.
Here is an extract, publicly available