Album Review – Hulder / Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry (2021)

The past is alive because the present is dead. With the glorious birth of Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry, long live Hulder!

One of the best-kept secrets hailing from the underground Black Metal scene, Portland, Oregon-based one-woman entity Hulder was formed back in 2018 as the sole work of the selfsame Hulder, whose real name is Marz Riesterer, a native of Mechelen, Belgium but currently residing in the United States. She quickly went to work on Hulder’s first demo released in 2018, titled Ascending the Raven Stone, ancient and regressive but with no shortage of technicality. Hulder then began crystalizing her aesthetic in her subsequent albums both in sheer sonics as well as visuals, culminating now in 2021 with her debut opus Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry. Recorded at De Pestkerk Studio and mixed at The Underworld Studio, this demonic opus is structured like a true album, with side one kicking in an utterly feral manner and cresting along to vicious wanderlust while side two furthers the synth mysticism and maintains a more triumphant aspect, with each of its eight tracks being deeply rooted in 90’s classicism, from the paganisms of earliest Enslaved  and Kampfar to the hypnotizing grit of classic Judas Iscariot. Supported by session drummer Necreon (Cauterized, Funebrarum, Trepanation), Hulder is on absolute fire throughout the entire album, offering our ears old school, raw Black Metal that’s utterly dynamic, engaging, nuanced and transportive, but undeniably physical in its pulsing vistas of darkness and mystery.

The opening track Upon Frigid Winds is pulverizing from the very first second, with Hulder beautifully growling the song’s Stygian words (“Almighty force of the damned / Awakened by eons of pain / Born of destruction and carnage / Brought to light once again / Upon frigid winds we ride / Blaze the path of retribution / Clashing of mere mortal weaponry / Force of evil remains eternal”). In other words, it’s classic, grim Black Metal, period. And our dauntless black metaller keeps darkening the skies in Creature of Demonic Majesty, blasting her guitars and bass mercilessly, therefore crafting a beyond menacing ambience while Necreon keeps smashing his drums nonstop; then inspired by the early days of renowned acts the likes of Immortal, Marduk and Mayhem, Hulder explodes our senses with the sulfurous Sown in Barren Soil, presenting an amazing job done with her piercing riffage, and always supported by the precise Necreon, of course. And it’s time to soothe our souls to the sound of the folk-infused, atmospheric tune titled De Dijle, where Hulder meticulously blends the sounds of nature with phantasmagorical keys and her trademark she-demon gnarls.

After such mesmerizing tune, Hulder offers our avid ears the mid-tempo Atmospheric Black Metal aria Purgations of Bodily Corruptions, once again boosting the song’s malignancy with her devilish keys and riffs, whereas Lowland Famine brings forward old school Black Metal in its purest form from start to finish, with the venomous she-wolf roars by Hulder being beautifully complemented by her Cradle of Filth-inspired keys. Put differently, the song effectively epitomizes Hulder’s talent and passion for extreme music; and switching gears to an atmospheric, almost shoegazing sonority Hulder captivates us all with her delicate vocals in A Forlorn Peasant’s Hymn, exploding into visceral Black Metal while displaying poetic lyrics barked by our one-woman army (“A trail of fallen kin lie before me / As far as my tired eyes can see / A bloodred horizon to illuminate my path / I hear their cries as they share in my agony”). Finally, let’s crack our necks headbanging to the menacing From Whence an Ancient Evil Once Reigned, where Hulder’s slashing riffage and low-tuned bass generate a massive wall of sounds enhanced by Necreon’s bestial drumming, putting a sensational conclusion to such inspiring and medieval album.

I guess I don’t need to say we have right in front of us one of the most detailed, organic and infernal albums of 2021, and we don’t need to listen to anything that will still be released this year to make such statement. Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry is a true gem of extreme music, making me wonder what’s next in the career of this talented Belgian-American metaller. Hence, don’t forget to give Hulder a shout on Facebook, to stream more of her awesome music on Spotify, and to purchase Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry in less than two weeks from several distinct locations including her own BandCamp page, the Iron Bonehead’s BandCamp page or webstore, Record Shop X and Apple Music. The past is alive because the present is dead. With the glorious birth of Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry, long live Hulder!

Best moments of the album: Upon Frigid Winds, Sown in Barren Soil, Lowland Famine and A Forlorn Peasant’s Hymn.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Iron Bonehead

Track listing
1. Upon Frigid Winds 3:22
2. Creature of Demonic Majesty 3:33
3. Sown in Barren Soil 4:43
4. De Dijle 6:33
5. Purgations of Bodily Corruptions 4:23
6. Lowland Famine 5:26
7. A Forlorn Peasant’s Hymn 6:03
8. From Whence an Ancient Evil Once Reigned 5:07

Band members
Hulder – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
Necreon – drums (session)

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