Hærken – …Of Warriors & Kings


Review by Tony Gaskin

Release date: 24 June 2014

The opening strains of this album instantly transport you back in time to an age of chivalry, fealty, champions and blood oaths, to a dark and distant past that saw the birth of a nation and a rich tapestry of folklore and fables. But don’t be misled; this is no light-hearted folk metal album. Track one, ‘Exordium’, creates the initial ambience but we soon put all thoughts of fair maidens and knights in shining armour aside as the brutal and bloody truth of the dark ages is thrust upon us by the death metal version of a medieval tourney.

Hærken have been brandishing their tales of heroes and legends since 2009 and have built upon their initial success with appearences at Bloodstock and two appearences at Beermageddon with their now legendary wall of death battle, but this is their debut album and one that has been much anticipated. This is a brilliantly executed and conceived album, the tracks flow seamlessly and you can just imagine this being played out in some smokey hall as a saga to enthrall and enrapture the Theigns knights and subjects on a cold mid-winters evening.

Subject matter aside, this is as good as any British Death Metal around at the moment, technically outstanding, with superb production. The Laird on vocals creates that gruff vocal style but in such a way you can actually hear the words, there’s no screaming or grunts just for the sake of it, and the rest of the band are equally proficient with their respective instruments, The Baron on lead has some excellent sweeps and riffs, with The Reverend providing bass lines that would stir the blood of any of us noble or otherwise.

The interlude track, ‘Aetas Oblitus’, provides a brief respite from the onslaught, but it is only brief. Vicious is a word that originates from the medieval period and is an apt description for the second half of this album as the pace is picked up and we plunge head first into a battle frenzied assault with each track conspiring to bring us into a brotherhood of battle fodder. Rousing tracks like ‘A Call to Arms’ and ‘The Kings Crusade’ find us responding to some ancient cultural memory and you find yourself joining in with the battlecries, make sure you have no sharp implements around when you listen to this album, you might get carried away. Outstanding tracks are many, but my personal favourites are ‘The Eve Of Bealltainn’, ‘The Wild Hunt’ and ‘The Bannauc Burn’.

…Of Warriors and King is due to be released on June 24th, a significant date in history, the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, with an appearance in Scotland at Les Fest on the 27th June, less than an hour’s drive away from that historic site. You can download a free copy of ‘The Eve of Bealltainn’ from the band’s website now.

Hærken – Of Warriors & Kings9 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Exordium
  2. King Herla
  3. The Eve of Bealltainn
  4. One to Defend, One to Defeat
  5. The Wild Hunt
  6. Aetas Oblitus
  7. A Call To Arms
  8. The Kings’ Crusade
  9. Torquilstone
  10. The Bannauc Burn