Hailing from Iceland, today we have Skálmöld and their debut album “Baldur”. Having signed to Napalm Records, it shows some signs of the quality of this fairly unknown band. When Folk/Viking Metal bands are a dime a dozen, it is nice to hear some bands that have something else to bring to the table and Skálmöld does a good job in leaving us with a promising debut album.
Mixing many different influences into their music, the first thing to standout is that almost no song in this release sounds a like. The band mixes catchy choir-like sections, engaging guitar solos and powerful riffing to perfection and creates a very epic and untraditional atmosphere that will surely appeal to fans of the genre that are tired of bands playing the same thing over and over.
The Progressive Viking Metal kings mark their return with “The Lay of Thrym”, and as we can hear it is a pretty convincing one indeed. Two years have passed since “By the Light of the Northern Star”, and with this new album the band picks-up exactly where they left of and continue their onslaught with very well crafted Viking epics.
If you are not a stranger to Týr’s older works, you will definitely love “The Lay of Thrym”, however, if you are new to the band, this will be a very good introduction into the magical sound behind this very talented band. In the 10 tracks presented in this release, we are treated to very intricate guitar work, catchy clean vocals, and full songs that grab your attention and keep it for the duration of the release.
Few months before the release of their sixth full-length album, the Russian guys of the Pagan/Folk Metal Arkona decided to keep listeners a little taste of their new release with the EP “Stenka na Stenku”. In this release we have one song from the upcoming album, and five more previously unreleased tracks. The EP features just enough material to keep the band’s hordes of fans happy until their new full-length.
Opening the EP we have “Stenka Na Stenku”, a very dynamic track that shows the wide spectrum of elements that comprise the band’s sound. Masha’s vocals are as excellent as always and the festive feeling to the song makes it a very catchy and effective Pagan/Folk Metal piece. The accordion-like keyboards are very well fitting in this awesome song.
Delivering their 7th full-length album in over 20 years of existence, Primordial reminds us why they are one of the greatest Celtic/Folk Black Metal bands of all time. With powerful guitars driven songs and intricate drum patterns, the band provides over 60 minutes of brilliant music that is up to par with their greatest albums of the 90’s.
Pounding away with “No Grave Deep Enough”, the band provides their signature guitar work that becomes outstanding when paired with A.A. Nemtheanga vocals. This song has all the ‘classical’ Primordial elements and works wonderfully as an opening track. “Lain with the Wolf” provides the typical build-up sections that the band is known for, and the drum patterns in this song make it very diverse and interesting to listen to.
After their over-produced previous release “Njord”, I was hopping to see the band bouncing back with a more natural and real sound. To my surprise, Leaves’ Eyes did exactly this with “Meredead”. In this album we are treated to 12 tracks of beautiful sounding music (and no over production) that will surely remind you of a ‘modernized’ version of “Vinland Saga” (my favorite album of the band).
Opening with the majestic “Spirit’s Masquerade”, the band will blow you away with lush choir arrangements and powerful guitars. Liv’s voice is as amazing as ever and in this song it’s very nicely surrounded by the choir and string instruments, this song alone made me forget about “Njord” instantly. The chorus section of “Étaín” makes this song very enjoyable and a very typical Leaves’ Eyes styled song.
Five years have passed since “The Morrigan's Call” and Cruachan shows no sign of slowing down, with “Blood on the Black Robe” the band makes a very solid return. As the current Celtic/Folk Metal scene is watered down with releases that sound like the “Braveheart” soundtrack, it is very nice to get one that focuses more on the guitars and aggressiveness of the music.
I have always liked the band since their 1995 debut “Tuatha Na Gael”, and with every release they show more maturity and refinement in their sound, and now they return to the killer aggressive style from their earlier days. “Blood on the Black Robe” is no exception, the band exploits their guitar driven sound with catchy sections and effective use of Folk elements.
In a time when Pagan/Folk Metal releases are a dime a dozen, it is very hard to go find something truly original and worth listening to. “Call of the Black Winds” is an example of an album that is half-way there, meaning that it is nothing ‘revolutionary’ but it has its moments.
The band has been perfecting its formulaic approach to the genre and with “Call of the Black Winds” they show it. Every aspect of this release has been done by the band in the past, but this time around they get to do it a little bit better. For instance, the clean vocals are considerably better than last time and they actually fit the songs better in this release.
One of our favorite Folk Metal/Rock bands has returned with “Ardeo” and the only thing we can’t think is that 3 albums in 3 years definitely take a toll on a band’s creativity. In this release the band deliver 49 minutes of exactly the same as on “Am Rande der Welt” and “Hoffnungsschimmer”.
We don’t really care if a band does the same album 5 different ways as long as it is appealing and engaging. “Ardeo” is half and half in both departments, the band’s sound is as appealing as ever, but it sounds exactly the same as on their previous release. In terms of the appeal, there are great moments for sure, but they are drowned by uninspired repetition.
Finish Folk Metal boozeheads Korpiklaani return with another highly energetic release that will satisfy your Folk Metal needs for months to come. In the spirit of the band’s previous releases “Ukon Wacka” feels like a party from start to end, and with a track named “Tequila”, we all know how this party is going to end.
As any fan of the band (or the genre for that matter) can imagine, the band’s unique brand of ‘folkiness’ and energy makes their music a delightful experience, even if you don’t like Folk Metal. With “Ukon Wacka”, the band continues building on their previous releases by making their sound more concise and effective.
Like a fine wine, Battlelore has been graciously aging with time and with “Doombound” they achieve a very solid release and refinement of their signature Epic Metal sound. As one of the most awaited releases of 2011, “Doombound” has everything a fan of the genre needs: brilliant female and male vocals, epic melodies with elaborate arrangements, and powerful guitar riffing.
While not terribly revolutionary, Battlelore has been refining their style with every album they have produced and with “Doombound” they are close to achieving. As a concept album “Doombound” takes the listeners into a magical fantasy journey, something that the band has made part of their concept (and live show) since their conception and it’s one of their best traits.