CD Review: “Fornaldarsagor” by Manegarm

Swedish metal trio Manegarm’s ninth release, Fornaldarsagor, is a meld of melodic folk metal and black metal. The opening track “Sveablotet,” commences with dissonant black metal riffing and several rhythm chances before slowing down during the palatial chorus. Guitarist Markus Ande steals the show with his ability to meld hellish tremolo picking with grandiose riffs. “Hervors arv” continues the fast paced tempo of the previous track. Bassist and vocalist Erik Grawsio’s harsh vocals sound like those of a viking fighting on a snowy battlefield. Manegarm’s folk influence is more prominent on this track, especially during the midsection. “Slaget vid Bravalla” is a ferocious track with drummer Jakob Hallegren’s unceasing double drums intermixed with slicing blast beats. The crushing chorus riff is underscored with gargantuan double drums. “Ett sista farva” is an anthemic folk metal ballad with tranquil guitars and soothing female vocals. The chorus is memorable and evokes images of vikings seated around a campfire singing of their victories. “Dodskvadet” is a serene folk song composed with stringed instruments and acoustic guitars. A fitting end to a heavy album.

Fornaldarsagor features eight tracks each with an average length of five minutes. However, the songs do not drag on as the tracks are both catchy and maintain a degree of complexity. The folks elements are not cheesy or insincere, which is evident on “Dodskvadet.” The folk instruments and Swedish lyrics grant a greater degree of authenticity on this record.

Manegarm did its ancestors proud with Fornaldarsagor. Fans of Amon Amarth, Amorphis and Heidevolk will enjoy this record with its heavy, yet catchy songs and folk elements. Long live the Viking Age.

Check out the band’s website:

http://www.manegarmsweden.com/

CD Review: “Vuur Van Verzet” by Heidevolk

Dutch folk metal outfit Heidevolk unleash its sixth record, Vuur Van Verzet, to commence the new year. The opening track “Ontwaakt” is equal parts pummeling and melodic with a cutting midsection that concludes with a weeping violin. That same stringed instruments opens the following track “Wolf In My Heart.” This catchy track is one of two songs on the album with lyrics in English. There is powerful symbolism on this track as vocalists Lars Nachtbraecker and Jacco Buhnebeest compare the warrior to the wolf. A predator that hunts his prey in the dead of night. It is a fairly straightforward song and thus one of the more accessible songs on Verzet. “Yngwaz Zonen” begins with a simple tribal drum and the group singing. Although I do not understand the lyrics, it evokes a spirit of unity and triumph. One can envision a group of Frankish warriors seated at a campfire recalling past battles. “O, Britannia” is driven by a thrashing riff and upbeat drumming before breaking down in to a grooving midsection replete with chanting and circular guitar solo. Alas, “The Alliance” is the second track sung in English. It opens with stomping drums and staccato riffs intertwined with acoustic guitar. There are several rhythm changes in this song that takes the listener on a journey, but never loses them. The sweeping riff near the song’s end is relentless before acoustic guitars drown it out and peacefully conclude the track. “Tiwaz” is a galloping number named at the rune symbolizing the Norse god Tyr. Tyr is associated with law and heroic glory and this rollicking song would certainly bring a smile to his face. “Gungnir” is the spear of Odin and this percussion driven track is both exuberant and ambitious. The unpredictable riffs complement the brutal drumming and gives the track a sense of urgency in a chaotic battle. A strong track certain to become a fan favorite.

Vuur Van Verzet is a heavy metal lesson in Dutch history. While I am not a Dutch speaker, it caused me to look up several words to understand their meaning. Thus, it is educational for listeners. The Amon Amarth comparisons will certainly come up, if they have not already. However, the Heidevolk’s music differs from its Swedish peers in that there is greater emphasis on traditional music and acoustic guitars. The band successfully mingles soft classical passages with melodic death metal, allowing for a varied sonic texture. Heidevolk is not as heavy as Amon Amarth, but the band is heavy when it wants to be. The songwriting is stellar and the production is crisp, especially with the percussion.

Ultimately, Vuur Van Verzet is for fans of folk, viking and melodic death metal. There is little filler here and each song seamlessly flows from one to the next. Pick this up for a night of headbanging in battle.

 

Check out the band’s website: http://www.heidevolk.com/