Tag Archives: Viking 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: Sons of Crom – Riddle of Steel

Sons of Crom - Riddle of Steel

Sons of Crom [Sweden]
Riddle of Steel
2014
Full Length
Debemur Morti Productions
Heavy/Viking Metal

10 years on, Quorthon‘s legacy lives on in the many black and viking metal bands that have quoted him and his musical projects as an influence, with bands such as Bloodshed Walhalla even outright proclaiming themselves to be a Bathory tribute band. It is rather fitting then, that out of Quorthon‘s birth-land Sweden comes Sons of Crom, and less than a year after their formation, the band releases their debut full length album Riddle of Steel under the reputable Debemur Morti Productions.

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Album Review: Darkenhöld – Castellum

Darkenhöld - Castellum

Darkenhöld [France]
Castellum
2014
Full Length
Those Opposed Records
Black Metal

Claiming to play “authentic middle age black metal”, French black metal band Darkenhöld this year releases their brand new full length album, Castellum, presenting a style that is vastly different than the what has become the known as the French style of bands like Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega. Instead, on their third full length offering, the band presents a style that leans closer to the traditional style of black metal.

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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: 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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Album Review: Nokturnal Mortum – The Voice of Steel

Nokturnal Mortum [Ukraine]
The Voice of Steel
2009
Full Length
Oriana Music
Black Metal

With the rapid shambolic decline of the initial promise that Eluveitie offered us from their groundbreaking “Slaina” album to the lackluster release of “Everything Remains as It Never Was”, it was regrettable to say that my faith in the genre of Viking/folk metal has since gone progressively jaded.

In this specialized genre, success treads itself precariously on a thin line, and often, bands either try too hard hence risking a cheesy and tedious sound that wouldn’t sustain more than 3 songs, even if you are an optimistic listener.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover a sorely underrated band from the exotic land of Ukraine going by the name of “Nokturnal Mortum” and chancing upon their 2009 opus called “The Voice of Steel” (Голос Сталі).

From the introduction track which invokes a maddeningly morose ambience that sounded menacing yet aggressive will set the tone for the entire album perfectly. Exploded to the title track of the album, their thick melodic guitarwork blended beautifully with Varggoth’s estranged screams and tastefully done dosages of assorted folk instruments.

The album continued itself in an undulating succession of impossible moments of sheer heart-stopping epic gloriously intense uncompromising Slavonic pagan folk metal peppered with quality quantities of good old black metal. A notable mention was the song – “Valkyrie” (ВАЛЬКИРИЯ)

Just as you thought you could take a breather from that blistering near-11 minute magnum opus, Nokturnal Mortum blasted to “Ukraine” (УКРАЇНА). A real tear jerker, in my personal opinion, seeing how aggressiveness can so beautifully done even with clean vocals.

The second magnum opus of the album “My Dream Islands” (МОЄЇ МРІЇ ОСТРОВИ), lasting almost a mighty duration 12 minutes, provides ample memorable moments with their purposeful usage of synthesiser effects.

The penultimate track of this perfect album – “Sky of Saddened Nights” (НЕБО СУМНИХ НОЧЕЙ) finally gave the listener a moment of respite from the chaotic beauty by offering a track could rivals the majestic tranquillity akin to that of Kitaro’s (although I do know that is not a common comparison one could normally make with metal music).

The album ends with another magnum opus – “White Tower” (БШЛА ВЕЖА), proving to hardened skeptics that the possibility of a perfect album isn’t merely a possibility but a reality.

I was taken aback by how effortless and quickly I was subconsciously drawn into the “Nokturnal Mortum” soundscape; I found myself smiling, invigorated as I headbanged with new found zeal in front of my CD player.

My faith has been restored.

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Recommended for listeners of:

Bathory, Falkenbach, Drudkh, Eluveitie, Wolves in the Throne Room, Moonsorrow.

Nokturnal Mortum on the internet:
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