Krampus // Survival of the Fittest
Rating: 4.5/5.0 — raise your glass to honor, honesty and valor!
Label: NoiseArt Records
Websites: www.krampusfolk.com | www.facebook.com/krampusfolk
Release Dates: EU: 2012.08.24 | NA: No date
Written By: Madam X
To say I’ve been moved by this album is just a slight understatement… bear with me while I try and reign in my fangirl-ism! It’s rarely that I’ve come across an album that carries such a strong and powerful message, while sounding mind-blowing at the same time. This 8-piece, modern folk metal band hail from Udine, in north-eastern Italy, and it seems this city, known for its iron commerce, will soon be known for a slightly more folk inspired kind of metal. Krampus have a style that is reminiscent of new wave folk metal act Eluveitie and sometimes progressive, mostly melodic, folk metal acts Amorphis, Wintersun and Korpiklaani. Where they differ however, is that instead of looking to the past for inspiration, Krampus have crafted Survival of the Fittest wholeheartedly, lyrically and musically, looking towards the future and a rather bleak, battered and bruised future it appears to be. This is the bands first full release, however Krampus have already released two very tempting EP offerings (Shadows of Our Time and Kronos’ Heritage), and will be leaving for their first extended European (Heidenfest) tour shortly (joining the likes of Wintersun and Korpiklaani), and therefore there is a definite expectation that Survival of the Fittest will be well-received.
The lyrics are the strength or backbone of this album, and Krampus bring subjects like fear, pain, lost independence, oppression, disappointment, forgotten values, ignorance, corruption and injustice like demons spitting and scratching out into the open. Survival of the Fittest stands for honor, honesty and valor above all else. Truthfully, it’s not the lyrics you’re going to notice about the album on first listen, they take a while to soak in and Filippo’s accent drenched, though not at all unpleasant, clean and unclean vocal delivery make it a little tough to discern his message. That being said, Filippo and his backing vocalists succeed in matching their vocal styling’s seamlessly for each and every change in course the album takes.
Musically Krampus approach their metals with the usual tools of the trade, distorted guitars, drums, bass and keyboards to which they tastefully add an array of traditional folk instruments such as the violin, bagpipes, whistles, flutes and the Irish bouzouki. “Arise (The Day of Reckoning)” is an epic opener to the album, that does a great job of whetting your palate and flowing into the real opener: “Beast Within” – and like envy, the subject matter of this track – this frenetic, ridiculously catchy track feels like a “ravenous beast corroding you from within.” “The Bride” sets itself well apart from the rest of the album being the only track to feature almost entirely clean vocals – and this change in no way feels out of place. Musically Survival of the Fittest flows consistently and comfortably from track to track without becoming dull and losing excitement – there are great and tight guitar riffs and solos and varied drum work aplenty, interspersed with well-played (never overdone or cheesy) folk instruments, truly setting this album apart from other similar folk metal albums in the market already.
Stand out moments for me are Filippo’s screams, these really come out to play on my favourite track “Shadows of our Time.” This track (despite the heavy subject matter) is the perfect blend of screaming, growling, soaring, weirdly festive, catchy fun that makes you want to jump up, grab your cat (take note of ‘X-Men claws’ in relation to jugular at this point), and dance around the room like a crazy person [Upon which time you will be docked Metal Points™ . You, Madam X, just lost 50. – AMG]. The tracks on this album never reach more than 4.5 minutes, with the album sitting around 41 minutes in total, and while this is short by most standards, it actually works in Krampus’ favour as you’re well tempted just to spin the album again as soon as it ends… yea, yea, been there, done that.
If you have a gap in your playlist for a few minutes of well executed, heavier-than-you-would-expect, new wave, melodic, catchy-as-hell folk metal with a great and important message, then this album is not to be missed.