Just as Beorn’s Hall had expanded their sound between 2017’s Mountain Hymn and 2018’s Estuary, thus has it evolved even further on In His Granite Realm. Four of this album’s six tracks stretch past the ten-minute mark, the other two serving as three-minute breathers, and the doom influence that was hinted at before is made even more blatant. Of course, the group’s pagan black metal agenda remains at the forefront with equal parts devoted to blast beats, acoustic breaks, and folk instrumentation.
Despite these advancements, the presentation still feels rawer than it should be. While the vocals aren’t as buried as before, they’re still fairly distant in the mix and the guitar rhythms are prone to being suppressed by the leads in addition to the other various instruments and effects on display. In a way similar to Opeth, there are times where song lengths seem to run purely for the sake of throwing in another instrument or seemingly random tempo change, resulting in some rather slapdash structures.
Thankfully the approach is endearing overall, and the second half has some particularly excellent songs. “To Ride at Midnight” intermingles its mead hall acoustic whimsy with triumphant sets of gallops that are elevated even further on the title track. Part of me wishes that the album’s “sides” had been switched around but the second wave-style electronics on “Bronze Age Spellcraft” do make for a smooth denouement.
I think a little time between efforts might’ve made In His Granite Hall an even bigger step forward for Beorn’s Hall, but there’s no denying that the band has effectively expanded their sound in a more than timely fashion. A more polished production job is pure wishful thinking at this point, but the style remains likable and the playing is competent enough to justify the broadened scope. I’d probably put it on the same quality level as the Estuary but anybody who swears by Bathory’s Hammerheart should consider them both mandatory checkouts.
“To Ride at Midnight”
“In His Granite Realm”
“Bronze Age Spellcraft”