King of Asgard // Fi’mbulvintr
Rating: 3.0/5.0 —Good, but it ain’t Mithotyn
Label: Metal Blade
Website: kingofasgard.com | myspace.com/kingofasgardsweden
Release Dates: EU: 16.08.2010 | US: 08.17.2010
Few names rate as highly among fans of “viking metal” and melodic death metal as the classic Swedish act Mithotyn, which sadly went defunct in 1999 after three excellent full lengths (In the Sign of the Ravens, King of the Distant Forest and Gathered Around the Oaken Table, all of which come highly recommended). Since then, they have gained a near cult status as one of the leaders in the genre and one of the best to ever touch the folk-viking metal legacy. For fans of the band, or at least for this fan of the band, Falconer was never an appropriate replacement for what was a unique and fresh band that went sadly under the radar during their tenure. So you can imagine my excitement upon receiving a copy of Fi’mbulvintr (which, btw, shouldn’t this be FÃmbulvintr?), from the new incarnation containing the former guitarist from Mithotyn as well as the band’s drummer.
But to my disappointment, King of Asgard, while good, is not a reincarnation of the once and mighty Mithotyn. Instead King of Asgard goes through the paces of being a more traditional style melodic death band with folky melodies and some power metal sensibilities (see the intro to “The Last Journey”). This is something the band is very good at. The tracks are powerful, with catchy melodies that should hit fans of Amon Amarth or Unleashed right in the sensitive addictive parts. If you keep in mind that these two ended up Falconer, then you will have an idea of what they’re capable of, but fortunately for everyone involved, King of Asgard has way better vocals.
Standing alone, Fi’mbulvintr has some very good tracks. “Snake Tongue” for example, has an amazing polska feel at the beginning of the track, and a beautiful Swedish folk melody which leads some seriously depressing, minor chords that really create an bleak, depressing feeling that should appeal to fans of folk metal. “EinhÃ¤rjar”, shares the beautiful folk melodies with “Snake Tongue”, but on the other hand is a far more straight forward Swedish death metal track with a bit of that Mithotyn black metal sensibility showing through as well. If the whole album was as amazing as these two tracks are put together, I would be declaring Fi’mbulvintr the second coming of awesome.
Instead, while this record starts out strongly, it just loses me in its uniformity. This is a hard criticism to level at a band that has such strong melodies and good writing at times, but I found myself consistently forcing myself through the last three tracks, because I’d just lost interest after about 35 or 40 minutes. It could be that I’m tired of the sound or it could be that this band doesn’t have the same kind of magic that kept wrapped audiences of metalheads in love with bands like Einherjer, Windir and Mithotyn after their demises. In metal, it seems, you only get one chance to be really novel and for King of Asgard, despite the obvious talent and a strong showing in certain areas, this doesn’t pass the smell test.
For fans of the genre, I would go so far, however, as to recommend checking this out. It’s possible that I’m just tired of this and that this holds something really special for you in it. There are certainly songs on here that are getting thrown on the “five star rating” shuffle list in my iTunes, and I suspect that fans of the genre will have hard not finding something that they dig on here.