FOLKEARTH – Viking’s Anthem CD
Stygian Crypt Productions
I’ve been a fan of FOLKEARTH for a few years now. When it comes to the Pagan Folk/Viking Battle Metal genre they are fairly unique compared to other bands. I know the genre itself gets a fair share of critical hits, some well deserved, but this one really emulates class as well as talent. I’ve always considered them as on the top of the heap as far as the genre goes. For those of you unfamiliar with FOLKEARTH, they are not really a band but a continually changing line-up of musicians from all over the world, although mostly from Europe. They don’t even record together but instead one musician will come up with a riff, a melody or sometimes a full song. Then its recorded and sent off to someone else or a group of a few musicians involved adding on to it. I’m sure there’s some final arranging going on behind a recording studio console but in the end it works perfect and its proficient since this is their eighth full length since 2004. As far as the musical instruments involved you have the basic guitars (electric & acoustic), bass and drums plus various woodwinds, stringed instruments, keyboards and always something weird but traditional plus their many vocalists male and female.
Viking’s Anthem might be their most accessible release so far as the first two cuts, “Beasts from the Blizzards” and “Ragnarok” both sound like they could have appeared on one of their contemporaries’ releases. “Beasts from the Blizzards” works perfect as an opening cut with it’s strong almost Power Metal style and guttural vocals. It also contains a violin which takes the place of a rhythm guitar and added female vocals but the guitar leads really sell it. I think every Viking themed band has a song titled “Ragnarok” but FOLKEARTH keeps theirs at a slow folksy tempo as if it were to be sung around a campfire. As this album continues you can understand its beauty as what could’ve been an average cut from an AMON AMARTH or FINNTROLL release gets the added Folk instrument treatment. Songs like “Viking’s Anthem” “To Avalon” or “The Eternal City” both start out as pure Folk pieces but turn into galloping melodic death metal anthems. Other cuts like “Legacy of Steel” stick within the Folk framework which appears to me especially since I really got into their Songs of Yore release from 2008 which was all acoustic.
FOLKEARTH is a band that I’d mention first to anyone interested in the Folk/Viking Metal genre. I really feel think this one here is their absolute best so far atleast. While some bands might toss in some violin or a tin whistle to a few songs and then call their sound Folk/Viking Metal. FOLKEARTH actually incorporates the various instrumentation and melodies. I doubt it’ll make you go out to a costume store to buy a plastic Viking helmet or give you a hankering for a horn of mead. I think it will give you an appreciation for this much maligned genre. The members of FOLKEARTH are not furies or festive drunks. They are talented international musicians who work hard to create something which to me sounds like a modern metal interpretation of the past.