Review: Allseits - Hel (2009)


allseits_helartist: All­seits
release: Hel
format: CD
year of release: 2009
label: Cyc­lic Law
dur­a­tion: 44:27

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

The latest Cyc­lic Law release is Hel by All­seits, the pro­ject of Nina Ker­nicke from Bremen, Ger­many. Nina also records as All Sides, the name she used for her col­lab­or­a­tion with Troum on Shutûn. The cur­rent album is a trade­mark Cyc­lic Law release in the area of dark ambi­ent drones with a spacey touch.

The album fol­lows the course of a jour­ney to the under­world of Norse myth­o­logy, from the roots of the World Tree Ygg­drasil to the realm of (and cor­res­pond­ing god­dess) Hel itself. We travel across the river (and bridge) of Gjöll, where the guard­ian Móðguð is encountered. Up next is Garm, the Nor­dic coun­ter­part to Cer­berus, the guard­ian hound of the under­world. The pen­ul­tim­ate encoun­ter is Fjalar, a name which can refer to both a dwarf and one of the roost­ers that will crow in the day of Rag­narök. Finally is Hel itself. In a musical jour­ney, then, we some­what retrace Hermóð’s quest in the Prose Edda to retrieve Baldr from the hellish realm.

Inter­est­ing con­cept mat­ter aside, Hel is a decent and reward­ing album that will appeal par­tic­u­larly to lov­ers of very dark and obscure drones, in the vein of pro­jects like Svart­sinn and Kam­mar­heit. In that sense, the album is per­fectly at home on this label. It’s not too long and each track has theme and struc­ture dif­fer­ent enough to keep the album inter­est­ing for the almost 45 minutes of its dur­a­tion. In par­tic­u­lar the clos­ing title track is quite good, with its clas­sic slow cres­cendo buildup.

How­ever, you cer­tainly won’t find any innov­a­tion here, which is per­haps typ­ical of the genre at this moment. Dark ambi­ent has been estab­lished as a unique and inter­est­ing style over the past fif­teen years or so, but such a crys­tal­lisa­tion inev­it­ably leads to stag­na­tion in many cases. As such, this is a per­fect album if you can’t yet get enough of this kind of music, but not quite what you’re look­ing for if you seek the cut­ting edge of mod­ern ambi­ent.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. Ygg­drasil (6:44)
2. Gjöll (8:01)
3. Modgudr (6:47)
4. Garm (9:02)
5. Fjalar (7:45)
6. Hel (6:08)