Tag Archives: Folk Metal

Moonsorrow – Jumalten aika

Moonsorrow - Jumalten Aika

Moonsorrow [Finland]
Jumalten aika
2016
Full Length
Century Media Records
Folk/Pagan/Black Metal

I’ve heard of Moonsorrow since their 2007 album, V: Hävitetty, but being young and impatient back then, the band’s brand of epic metal failed to capture my attention. So it was with little knowledge of the band’s sound that I chance upon this Finnish outfit’s seventh full length album, Jumalten aika. With all the band’s release up till 2011’s Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa drawing critical acclaim, it is with little surprise that fans of the band hold high hopes for the record, especially with the long 5-year wait.

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Album Review: Bloodshed Walhalla – The Battle Will Never End

Bloodshed Walhalla - The Battle Will Never End

Bloodshed Walhalla [Italy]
The Battle will Never End
2012
Full Length
Fog Foundation
Viking Metal

With a name like Bloodshed Walhalla, anyone familiar with the history of extreme metal would already know what to expect from this Italian viking metal horde. Band mastermind Drakhen also doesn’t shy away from proudly wearing his major influence on his sleeve, proudly proclaiming Bloodshed Walhalla to be a Bathory cover band at the same time on the band’s Facebook page, and indeed, this influence is also rather clear from the visuals of the band’s most recent release, The Battle Will Never End.

The themes of nature and wilderness is clear, as instrumental opening track Heimdallr‘s epic soundscape quickly transports one into a vast winterlands through Drakhen’s folkish riffings, as well as the sounds of wind howling and thunder at the background, and this is indeed a nice introduction to Bloodshed Wahalla‘s music. Blood and Fire perhaps shows the Bathory influences of the band most clearly, and apart from the seeming influence from Blood Fire Death in the naming of the track, the entire instrumentation and atmosphere that is conjured would also fit into the black/folk-era of the aforementioned, as Drakhen cleverly makes use of acoustic guitars to complement the rest of the instruments on the track. The alternating between gruff, blackened vocals and the intentionally, slightly off-key singing even reminds one of Quorthon‘s style of singing, further strengthening that Bathory comparison.

At the same time, there are also the more epic, heroic touches that are put into Bloodshed Walhalla‘s music, with some moments even giving the album a tinge of the dark, folk metal of Vintersorg or Borknagar. The recent exposure to bands such as Nokturnal Mortum and Drudkh also got me more sensitive to the whole range of sounds that are present on the album, and careful listening to The Battle Will Never End often proves to be interesting with the flurry of activities that are happening at the same time at any one point of the album, especially with the inclusion of soaring melodic leads, as well as the vast variety of influence that have gone into the melting pot of Bloodshed Walhalla‘s work.

Quorthon may have left this realm for 10 years, but with quality viking metal releases such as Bloodshed Walhalla‘s The Battle Will Never End paying tribute to the legends, one can be assured that his legacy lives on.

[xrr rating=4/5]

Bloodshed Walhalla on the internet:
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Album Review: Panychida – Grief for an Idol

Panychida - Grief for an Idol

Panychida [Czech Republic]
Grief for an Idol
2013
Full Length
Paragon Records
Pagan Metal

Czech Republic has surprised me quite a bit last year, with the release of Cult of Fire‘s newest Vedic-inspired sophomore album, easily rivalling gods of Vedic metal, Rudra and their experimental release RTA. Along with my recent obsession over Nokturnal Mortum‘s last release, The Voice of Steel, receiving Panychida‘s new album Grief for an Idol was certainly a nice surprise and addition to my recent quest into pagan metal.

On first look, I almost expected Panychida‘s Grief for an Idol to be a black metal release, and to be honest there was a slight tinge of disappointment upon realising that this wasn’t the case and what was contained on the CD was instead 50 minutes of pagan metal. But any initial negative feelings were quickly dispelled as soon as opening track Dance of the Fiery Stars began. The black metal aesthetics are still present, with the riffs of guitarists Honza and Mira and the gruff vocals of Vlcak easily reminding aficionados of the genre of bands like the Norwegian black metal band Taake.

However, the main difference over here is in the atmosphere that is evoked and the emotions that are roused, ranging from the desperation of black metal, to a hope of silver lining with the melodies that are unleashed on the record, with even some heroic moments with the epic soundscape that is created by the band, such as the a cappella intro on Doomsayer.

The whole range of influences that have gone into the writing of Grief for an Idol easily reminds one of Nokturnal Mortum, in particular on The Voice of Steel. For instance, apart from the clearly black metal aesthetics that Panychida prefers, there are moments where some elements of thrash, or even melodic death metal could be spotted like in the middle of Two Untouched Moments, adding to the already vast variety of sounds that the band has included on the album. Of course, there are the usual folkish elements of the genre, such as the bagpipes on Wayfarer’s Awakening.

With Grief for an IdolPanychida has not only increased interest in Pagan metal, but also in the emerging Czech Republic metal scene as well. The whole range of soundscapes, emotions and stylistics that the band has displayed on Grief for an Idol has shown the versatility and songwriting abilities of Panychida, and this will certainly not be the last that I will be hearing from the band.

Panychida on the internet:
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Paragon Records

Album Review: Falkenbach – Asa

Falkenbach [Germany]
Asa
2013
Full Length
Prophecy Productions
Black/Folk/Viking Metal

As a long time listener of Falkenbach, I was thrilled to hear the news of a new album – “Asa”, its answer to the 2011 studio effort “Tiurida”. Falkenbach is known for its consistently glorious and epic repertoire of songs, beginning from its 1996 inception with “…En Their Medh Riki Fara…”, the return with “Asa” was not an exception.

The album starts off with “Vaer Stjernar Vaerdan” on an almost trademark Falkenbach-esque grandiose note with the mainman – Vratyas Vakyas’ clean vocals heralding the rest of the album, which leads to the second song of “Wulfarweijd”. “Wulfarweijd” tosses the listener to the rougher edges of the Falkenbach experience. The hypnotic melodic riffs in “Wulfarweijd” hook the listener into the music-realms without the listener knowing. This sense of aural engagement was then again renewed in the rolling opus of “Mijn Larzt Wourd”, it is nearly impossible not to feel roused.  Vratyas Vakyas then led the listener to the more intense battle yet with “Bronzen Embrace” – – relentless brutality whilst still retaining dignified elegance. A delicate tightrope that I personally feel few bands could manage with the ease that Falkenbach seems to effortlessly elucidate on such a regular basis.

Speaking of dignified elegance, it is perhaps best exemplified by the song – “Eweroun”. In terms of metal music, this song could almost be considered as a ballad, a very rare and extremely satisfying sort of ballad; as the listener tries so hard to be stoic and detached but fails miserably, gives up defeated by the beauty of Falkenbach, in heathen swoon and forever smitten by such impossible grace. “Eweroun” glows.

As if in a second movement of the album, the listener is re-introduced and thrown back into chaotic dystrophy with the song – “I Nattens Stilta”. The listener swept with immaculate swiftness into action of the musical battle together with Vratyas Vakyas, as one is reminded of the Viking ethics of continual thrive and battle for honour, glory and legacy.  The momentum of the triad – “honour, glory and legacy” was brought to the eleven with “Bluot fuër Bluot” and “Stikke Wound”, the listener – a mere tourist in the harsh Falkenbach musical battleground, is left breathless and speechless.  Repose is still nowhere in sight, as there is still one more song to go.

“Asa” ends in accumulation with “Ufirstanan Folk”, a respite after the long drawn-out battles of the entire album. The triad of “honour, glory and legacy” is finally accumulated and accomplished, and there is simply nothing left to fight for except to relish and busk in the sweet paragon of victory. And that is what “Asa” has accomplished.

Falkenbach on the internet:
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Prophecy Productions

Album Review: AlNamrood – Kitab Al-Awthan

Al-Namrood - Kitab Al-Awthan

AlNamrood [Saudi Arabia]
Kitab Al-Awathan
2012
Full Length
Shaytan Productions
Black/Folk Metal

With the recent surge of Eastern-influenced extreme metal and the brand new Rudra release, the interest in such unique form of music is still rather fresh. Despite hearing AlNamrood‘s name being thrown around for a couple of years now and the amount of praise the band’s style of music has gotten, I haven’t actually gone about checking them out, until Kitab Al-Awathan, the band’s third full length release.

With this being the band’s third full length release in four short years since their formation, AlNamrood quickly proves that all the hype has not been for nothing, and with Mirath Al Shar, the band sets up a rather epic atmosphere for the album. For the uninitiated and those unfamiliar with such style of extreme metal, this could get a bit getting used to, and somewhat overwhelming. The first moments of Min Trab Al Jahel quickly throw a myriad of unique elements to the listener, and while the foundation of AlNamrood is undeniably black metal in the veins of bands like Mayhem and Darkthrone, the whole range of Middle Eastern elements make AlNamrood sound like a total different animal altogether.

While the most obvious way that AlNamrood sets themselves apart is in the usage of traditional instrumentation, most obvious in the percussions on the album that are not bands such as Rudra, making this album a pleaser for fans of the aforementioned, except with a more blackened edge. The melodies that are unleashed by Ostron on the keyboards also reek of strong Eastern influences, and often, the interplay between Ostron and the percussions are the key highlights on the album, easily leaving one in a deep state of trance with the odd beauty emanated through the music especially on tracks like Hayat Al Khlood. The furious trem-picked riffs of Mephisto also reinforces the entire mood and atmosphere of the album as well, while Mudamer’s blood-soaked vocals add in some sinister air to the listening experience.

Along with bands like Orphaned LandMelechesh and RudraAlNamrood‘s third full length effort is perhaps one of the best manifestations of East-meets-West, and the unique soundscape that the band has created on Kitab Al-Awthan will certainly keep fans of the Oriental and Europe engaged.

AlNamrood on the internet:
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Shaytan Productions

Heavy Metal Tribune #009 (April 2013)

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OUT NOW: Heavy Metal Tribune #009

Rotting Christ graces our cover this month, with mainman Sakis telling us more about the process behind their new full length release, Kata Ton Daimona Eaftou. We then have Nader Sadek talk to us about his fascination about petroleum on his project, In the Flesh, and how the all-star lineup came about. Primitive Man is the Sounds of the Underground band of the month, featuring Ethan from Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire. Kathir tells us more about his new band, The Wandering Ascetic and how it is different from his main band, Rudra, on our Asian Spotlight column. Finally, we have Italian stoner metal/Southern rock duo Tombstone Highway talk to us about their long-awaited debut, Ruralizer and the brewing stoner/doom scene in Italy.

Read it all here:

We will be announcing outlets where you can grab your copy of #009 soon, so keep your eyes peeled! Foreign friends of Heavy Metal Tribune, as usual, cancontact us for a copy of issue #009 (P+H of USD2.00 applies).

Cradle of Filth live in Singapore

Album Review: Munruthel – CREEDamage

Munruthel - CREEDamage

Munruthel [Ukraine]
CREEDamage
2012
Full Length
Svarga Music
Black/Folk Metal

Released late last November, less than a year after its predecessor The Dark Saga (2011), CREEDamage represents the solidification of Munruthel’s lyrical and musical identity. Founded in 1988 by the eponymous Munruthel (Vladislav Redkin) as a Dark Ambient outfit, the band has been in constant departure from the genre, finally settling on something close to a Folk –Black mash-up in 2011’s Dark Saga. CREEDamage completes Munruthel’s transition from its early roots, and when viewed as a counterpart or companion release to Dark Saga, lends some stability to the outfit’s overall sound.

A slew of impressive bands have emerged from the Slavonic Folk milieu; Nokturnal Mortum and Drudkh are more established examples. Redkin, having been an integral part of the Nokturnal Mortum setup for close to a decade, has presented both Dark Saga and CREEDamage as offerings representative of Munruthel’s divestiture of its extrinsic roots. With their recent output, Redkin and Munruthel have rightly claimed their place alongside Drudkh, Kroda, Walknut and others as forerunners of Slavonic Folk.

CREEDamage, over and above its significance in Munruthel’s musical trajectory, is a triumph in its own right. It is an immense work that draws heavily on the natural thematic largeness of historicity and the Slavic ethos. It is entrenched in Ukraine, its soil and its history, much in the same way Windir’s Likferd was entrenched in Sognamal. This entrenchment is readily apparent in the various orchestral passages in CREEDamage; arguably the album’s most attractive feature. The symphonic backings on ‘Rolls on Thunder from Fiery Skies’ and ‘The Mown Dawns Lie On The Ground’ are obviously derivative of the Ukranian Vesnianky, bandura passages and other Slavic tropes, providing the ethnic anchor that bands such as Drudkh and Thunderkraft (one of Redkin’s many bands) have exploited to great effect. Redkin has proved to be remarkably adept at orchestral arrangement both on this release, and on Dark Saga. The symphonic elements are not all the album has to offer, being balanced out with equally weighty guitar tangents and counterpoints. Redkin’s drumming is relatively simple (by design) and functions primarily as rhythmic scaffolding for the vocals and symphonic arrangement to take centre-stage.

With a massive introductory track (‘Ardent Dance of War’s God’), replete with heavy brass and war drums, Redkin sets the tone for the rest of CREEDamage. As the epic largeness transitions into the body of the album, we are made fully aware of the scope of the album; an awareness that is accentuated by the intermittent vocal presence of Masha Arkhipova (of Apkoha fame) and Alina Gornostayeva. A well-chosen Bathory cover (‘The Lake’) steals the show midway through the album. Wulfstan’s vocals on the track are deserving of particular praise. Aside from paying homage to Quorthon and Black Metal’s early Scandinavian roots, the Bathory cover, along with the album’s introductory track, lifts CREEDamage out of its Slavic-centricity. The album then transitions into the final three orchestral tracks, the ‘Krada Triumvirate’ (‘Krada I: The Blood’, ‘Krada II: The Surya’, ‘Krada III: The Fire’).  Here we see Redkin’s compositional abilities at their very best. The ending of CREEDamage is Prokofiev-esque in its scale and largeness, and is consistent with the rest of the album. This release will be of special interest to fans of Drudkh, Walknut, Kroda, Nokturnal Mortum, Oakenshield and Windir.

4/5

Munruthel on the internet:
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Svarga Music

Album Review: Frost Giant – When Myth and History Merged into Mystery

Frost Giant [USA]
When Myth and History Merged into Mystery
2012
EP
Blasphemour Records
Melodic Death/Power/Folk Metal/Hardcore

When Myth and History Merged into Mystery is Frost Giant‘s debut EP, and what an ambivalent record this is. The band lists itself as viking metal and hardcore, two genres that couldn’t seem to be further apart. And this is definitely one selling point of the album, with the band presenting a fusion of two genres that have never occurred before.

The album kicks off with My Life For Yours, with a nice melodic power metal touch but the melodic death metal influences become pretty evident as the vocals of Matt Frost comes in, along with the harmonised lead guitars and the riffing style of the triple axe attack. But the band soon goes into full on folk/power metal mode with the chorus, complete with clean and layered vocals, giving a slight operatic feel, with the melody even bringing to mind a certain Gamma Ray song, only done with a heavier folk metal emphasis. The guitarists also show off their neo-classical influences on speedy solos.

The slight hardcore influences that the band has put into the music has undoubtedly given the band a sound unlike any folk metal that I have heard before. Unfortunately there are moments where these tended to end up sounding awkward. While I have nothing in particular against the hardcore genre, there are also instances where the hardcore influence tend to end up sounding like some pop punk instead, especially songs like A Common Son and the bouncy cover of Adele‘s Someone Like You, sounding like it could come off one of those Punk Goes… compilations. Another thing that bugged me slightly as well was the production on the album, at times sounding overly sterile, especially the drums on the intro of My Life for Yours.

That said though, When Myth and History Merged into Mystery is still one hell of a catchy record, especially on the melodic segments on the album sounding like power metal with folk influences. The soothing clean vocal qualities of Matt Frost makes the listening experience all the more pleasing, though I would have liked the release more with the reduction of the -core elements.

Frost Giant on the internet:
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Blasphemour Records

Album Review: Warseid – Where Fate Lies Unbound

Warseid [USA]
Where Fate Lies Unbound
2012
EP
Independent
Symphonic Black/Folk Metal

Warseid presents a rather unique blend of symphonic black metal and folk metal on their new self-released EP, Where Fate Lies Unbound. Themes of Norse mythology typically come from the Scandinavian regions, and Warseid has to be one of the very few bands that I encounter so far from America that deals with these themes, and it would be interesting to see how they handle it.

The results are surprisingly good. The band starts off rather calming and soothing, with folkish acoustic guitars giving way to equally melodic lead guitar lines as the band presents their fusion of black and folk metal to the listener. The instrumentation on the album are impressive, as each of the members are given plenty of air time to display their craft. For instance, the synths on the album alternate between providing an epic feel to the music and more melancholic atmospheres, and the band displays this right from the beginning with Shackles Through Sand. Also, Joe’s lead playing are rather soothing as well, often focussing on the melodic aspect rather than on showing off through flamboyant techniques, fitting to the overall feel and atmosphere of the music on Where Fate Lies Unbound. Furthermore, Joe handles the vocals in Warseid as well, and apart from the high-pitched shrieks, he also handles clean vocals on the release, and though not particularly a fan of his clean vocals, they do suit the quieter moments well.

Despite the Nordic themes of the band, on tracks like Frost Upon the Embers, there is a somewhat oriental feel in the orchestration that is present in the music, and the somewhat festive feel contrasts the mood that the rest of the instruments portray, causing a pretty interesting and charming result. There are also progressive moments that are incorporated into the music of Warseid, such as the shifting in time signature, and this, along with the symphonic elements that are  present in the music all point towards bands such as Ihsahn, though there is a heavier folk influence over here.

Overall this has been a rather stunning release, and the atmosphere in the music makes for rather easy listening even for those who aren’t fans of black metal.

Warseid on the internet:
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Album Review: Sirocco – Lambay

Sirocco [Ireland]
Lambay
2012
Full Length
Independent
Folk/Heavy Metal

Recent high-profile folk metal releases have been largely disappointing, and one often finds himself turning towards the underground for a fix of folk metal or folk-influenced metal. Sirocco hails from Ireland, and Lambay is its brand new, third full length album. Ireland has seen music that have been heavily influenced by Celtic music such as its famous Irish punk bands, so it would be rather interesting to hear the results of the fusion of Celtic and heavy metal.

Azure introduces the listener to the album, a rather atmospheric introductory track that sets up the ambience for the band with a traditional folk instrument playing a single note throughout the track and some accompanying keys, giving a somewhat melancholic mood to the music at the same time though things do start to get slightly uneasy as the track transits into the first proper track, Lambay. The album starts off rather slowly, with the first few tracks being largely of a mid-pace, and is unlike other folk metal bands that either have a celebratory mood or heroic feel to them, resulting in the album being one that is slow to captivate the listener. Rather, the melodies that are present on the album and the song structures all seem to have a tinge of sadness to them. Even the aggressive moments are rather slow and lack that heavy edge to sufficiently bring out the impact of the riffs, causing the music to sound weaker than they should really be.

Furthermore, vocalist Ciaran sounds quite out of place in the band, lacking that “heroic” quality that one typically looks for in folk metal bands, and there are moments where he almost reminds me of vocalists such as James Hetfield, though with a smoother vocal quality, especially with the way he chooses to drag out certain words in the lyrics. That isn’t to say anything about his vocal range though, as he is more than capable at hitting the required notes and is a rather competent vocalist. Fortunately then, that the instrumentation on the album more than makes up for this mismatch. While I have previously mentioned the lack of impact of the riffs, truth be told, the music and the melodies that are unleashed by Owens and Tobin can get really catchy and addictive. There are even moments that display a slight Maiden influence, such as the opening riffs of Fallow; Unearth sounding like a heavier and folk-infused version of Out of the Shadows. Ciaran is also extremely talented on his bass, with the bass being rather prominent in the mix throughout the album, allowing him to really shine, with his playing at times being more of a lead melodic style rather than being satisfied with its rhythmic role. The instrumental Tempest brings about a slight classical and melancholic feel as well.

While it is true that the album starts off rather weakly, as the album progresses things start to look up, making Lambay a pretty good release. Also, the excellent playing of the individual band members and that nice, spacey atmosphere definitely make things bearable on the weaker moments on the album. One indeed has to listen to the album in its entirety in order to fully absorb the genius of Sirocco‘s Lambay.

Sirocco on the internet:
Official website