Named for a type of eerie forest spirit from Scandinavian folklore, Hulder is the project of multi-instrumentalist Marz Riesterer (aka Marliese Beeuwsaert, formerly of Bleeder, where she was known as “the Inquisitor”). Born in Belgium and based in the Pacific Northwest, this one-woman force of nature commanded attention for last year’s full-length debut, Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry (Iron Bonehead), and rightly so: polished and gnarly at once, its classic sound is dense and elegant. While Hulder skews toward black metal, she eschews some of the exaggeration typical of the style in favor of an emotional base that fans of traditional metal can also recognize (right down to her retro logo). It’s accessible in the best sense of the word.
Riesterer’s new record, The Eternal Fanfare (20 Buck Spin, out July 1 on digital and CD, then July 29 on vinyl), is well-paced, melancholy black metal that packs a lot of complexity into a compact package (the run time is less than half an hour). The funereal, ethereal opening track, “Curse From Beyond,” is a siren’s lure into the onslaught that’s to follow. Marz often trades off vocal styles; she can flip from pure and ghostly to growling and declamatory—and she does on “Burden of Flesh and Bone,” a riff monster with a majestic classic-horror keyboard interlude and plangent, wailing guitar solo by Phil Tougas of the Stygian Oath collective. “Sylvan Awakening” leans hard into Hulder’s melodic sensibilities, which come from her interest in folk balladry—you can almost see the ale skins swinging in unison as Riesterer sings along with herself. Album closer “A Perilous Journey” has a somber groove to it, a ritualistic chant implied in its filigree riffs. After a couple solo appearances in 2021, earlier this year Hulder ventured out on a short tour with a full band for the first time, hitting the east and west coasts. The realities of the pandemic might pose more obstacles than usual to the challenge of transitioning from a studio project to a live band, but the videos I’ve seen on YouTube prove that Riesterer has managed it admirably. This Cobra Lounge show is Hulder’s Chicago debut.
Hulder Devil Master, Skeleton, and Lurid open. Fri 7/15, 8 PM, Cobra Lounge, 235 N. Ashland, $25, 17+