After 5 years, Dutch folk metal band HEIDEVOLK are back with their new album, “Wederkeer,” the band’s seventh studio album, which will be released by Napalm Records on February 24th, 2023. With some lineup changes since their last album, this new record will see a new guitarist, drummer, and singer. I am curious to find out if this will still sound and feel like the HEIDEVOLK we are familiar with, or if their sound has changed.
Before pressing play, I took some time to admire the album art. The focal point is a man hanging on a tree, appearing to morph into it. HEIDEVOLK has described the album as a reminder to, “take a step back from the incessant barrage of media and stimuli and look inside.” In that case, they portray this theme well in the cover art. I also appreciate the small details in the background as well, like the sword that resembles the cover of their first album, “De Strijdlust Is Geboren.” The wolf and two black birds in the background are also nice details.
Starting the album, “Hagalaz” is the first song, starting immediately with chanting that sounds like Proto-Germanic, but without the lyrics it is hard to tell. Heavy guitars and strong rolling drums join shortly after, then dual vocals come soaring in on top. Upon hearing this first song, my immediate reaction was that HEIDEVOLK are back! This excitement was sustained through the next song as well, “Drink met de Goden (Walhalla),” the second single. Both singers, Daniël den Dorstighe and Jacco Bühnebeest complement each other excellently here. The new singer, Daniël, sounds like he embodies the HEIDEVOLK energy very well. This song gives off classic HEIDEVOLK vibes, but I feel that they could have made it longer. The energy on the album is still high on “Klauwen Vooruit” and has some interesting guitar parts from both Koen Vuurdichter and Mat Snaerenslijper.
At this point, for the first time on the release, the pace slows down for “Schildenmuur.” This is a short but delightful song and a good change of pace, as a chanty song with only vocals and drums. We can also hear all the members of the band contribute with their singing. Not only are the instrumental members of the band talented with their chosen instruments, they are all talented vocalists as well – especially Rowan Roodbaert, who is the longest continuous member of the band.
The next song, “De Strijd Duurt Voort,” is one of their strongest and showcases the talent of each member exceptionally. The vocal range is impressive and the other instruments are also able to show their depth of expertise, especially the drums from new member Kevin Houtsplijter. Songs like this explain why HEIDEVOLK are so respected in the genre. Since many HEIDEVOLK fans do not speak Dutch, it’s easy to appreciate that they make songs like “Oeros” and “Raidho.” While still being complex songs, some verses are quite simple to sing along to, only requiring knowledge of one or two words. I can see both of these songs being a hit when played live outside the Netherlands.
The album’s title track, “Wederkeer,” is also the third single off the album. It is a beautiful acoustic song that invokes a picture of someone playing around a campfire, like in the accompanying music video. The song also includes violin, which adds an interesting new element to the sound. The album closes with “Zomervuur,” another acoustic-type song, which is nothing to be upset about. HEIDEVOLK do acoustic music almost as well as they do heavy music. It’s also nice that they chose to include violin again on this song, as it the perfect complement to the sound. I am surprised that they decided to end their album on a slower song, but it ended up being a great choice and closes the album on a refreshing note.
In conclusion, this album is absolutely worth the 5 year wait. It is always better to take time when creating a great album, rather than releasing a sub-par album every year. The musicianship was strong in both vocals and each instrument as well. It seems like HEIDEVOLK give serious thought towards replacement members when their lineup needs to change, as they always make sure the music still sounds like classic HEIDEVOLK, and this album was no exception. My only wish would be that they would have had at least one longer song on the album, as most of them were around the 3-4-minute mark; I know they would have blown us away with a longer song. Nevertheless, HEIDEVOLK accomplished portraying their theme of returning to nature quite well, as it felt like I was transported away from the complications of everyday life while listening. You can be sure that “Wederkeer” will most definitely be a contender for album of the year, as they have set the bar high for others!
- Drink met de Goden (Walhalla) 05:06
- Klauwen Vooruit 05:28
- De Strijd Duurt Voort
- Wederkeer 02:51
- IJzige Nacht
- Ver Verlangen
Rowan Roodbaert – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
Koen Vuurdichter – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Jacco Bühnebeest – Vocals
Mat Snaerenslijper – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Daniël den Dorstighe – Vocals
Kevin Houtsplijter – Drums