Moonsorrow

Draugnim – Vulturine Review

Draugnim – Vulturine Review

“I’m not going to lie. I chose to review this promo on the basis that Draugnim sounds like Draugr – an entity which should be familiar to fellow Elder Scrolls nerds. On this basis, I predicted vaguely folkloric Scandinavian black metal. Indeed, Vulturine boasts Finnish Pagan metal similar to a popular band whose new album is also soon to drop.” Super nerds unite!

Wildernessking – Mystical Future [Vinyl Review]

Wildernessking – Mystical Future [Vinyl Review]

South Africa’s Wildernessking is an atmospheric black metal band that has undergone a maturation before our very eyes. Starting as Heathens the band played an immediate (and still excellent) form of black n’ roll. The early material was reminiscent of Enslaved, but lacked the Norwegians’ progressive punch. The writing was concise and to the point, and the word “atmospheric” would never have crossed my keyboard in those days—until the release of the track “Morning” in 2011. In 2012, under the new moniker Wildernessking, these South African ex-heathens released The Writing of Gods in the Sand, which unfurled their sound into expansive, atmospheric territory. The record had a production that helped the band’s music to balance between a raw, heavy black metal feel and their growing interest for more airy writing. Mystical Future progresses Wildernessking‘s journey, taking steps further away from the intensity and riff-driven black metal, toward a more expansive, atmospheric sound.

Sacrificium Carmen – Ikuisen Tulen Kammiossa Review

Sacrificium Carmen – Ikuisen Tulen Kammiossa Review

““Love at first sight” is an interesting concept: a basic mammalian response formed by some pesky, involuntary biological and cognitive mechanisms. And I wonder, can music elicit something similar? Can you, perhaps, start loving a record during the first minute of a sample track? Can this kind of appreciation evolve into a long-lasting bond with a piece of music? The début by Finnish black metallers Sacrificium Carmen, Ikuisen Tulen Kammiossa, had that sort of a struck-by-lightning influence on me.” But will an early frost kill this blooming love?

Syn Ze Şase Tri – Stăpîn Peste Stăpîni Review

Syn Ze Şase Tri – Stăpîn Peste Stăpîni Review

Syn Ze Şase Tri is a Romanian band hailing from from—no joke—Transylvania, and whose material I had the pure luck to discover by my naïve dedication to trying to review everything that ever landed in my mailbox back in the early days. The band’s first record, Între două lumi, was the victim of brutal mastering job which rendered the mp3s I received in the promotional material unlistenable. ” Will these Carpathian creepers have the aural bite to win AMG’s love this time around?

Finsterforst – Mach Dich Frei Review

Finsterforst – Mach Dich Frei Review

“Nestled in the Southwest corner of Germany, Schwarzwald (Black Forest) provides writing inspiration to its native musical counterpart, Finsterforst (Dark Forest). Playing exactly the style of metal one would expect from their name, Finsterforst have been plugging their epic, folksy wares to the masses with four full-lengths now, and Mach Dich Frei does not stray far from their established formula. There are problems, but it’s very solid and enjoyable, drawing on Moonsorrow and Wintersun in crafting epic and heavy soundscapes.” Moonsorrow influenced epi-folk sounds good, right? But is it more moon or sorrow?

Skálmöld – Með vættum Review

Skálmöld – Með vættum Review

“I dislike ‘Viking metal’ as a descriptor. It’s a vague term which alludes to lyrical content above the music itself. It can entail black or folk metal-derived darkness (Bathory), epic doom (Atlantean Kodex), raucous melodeath (Amon Amarth), and even power metal (Týr). Iceland’s Skálmöld falls somewhere between Amon Amarth‘s melodeath and the galloping triple-axe attack of Iron Maiden, stopping off at black metal for its raw tone and dabbling in doom for its long songs. See, wasn’t that easier than just ‘Viking metal’?” It is easier, but then Wotan will smite us.

Falkenbach – Asa Review

Falkenbach – Asa Review

“There’s music meant for a summer drive with the top down (old Van Halen), hitting the weights hard (Slayer, Pantera) and a night of hard-drinking in sketchy beer mills (Fireball Ministry, Orange Goblin). Likewise, the new slice of folksy Viking metal from Falkenbach proves perfect for chopping wood in the brisk Fall air. While I recognize “wood chopping” or “lumberjack” metal is an under-served medium, I feel confident saying this is the finest chopper album I’ve heard all year.” Grab thine axe as Steel Druhm weaves his tales of Viking rage and folksy tomfoolery.

Månegarm – Legions of the North Review

Månegarm – Legions of the North Review

In the late ’90s and early ’00s (aughts, as I call ’em), there was a swath of Scandinavian bands forming something of a scene around the sound of folk influenced black metal. Chief among these were ThyrfingMoonsorrow, and Månegarm. While Moonsorrow changed their sound with time and went on to have widespread respect, the Swedish bands (Månegarm and Thyrfing) both labored in relative obscurity. Why Månegarm never quite pushed their way onto the international stage is mysterious for me, because they’ve always been a band producing unique, interesting, and enjoyable music. In any case, Legions of the North marks the band’s first record since 2009’s Nattväsen which was released on the struggling (and now defunct) Regain Records. While Nattväsen was excellent, my major complaint was simply that it was largely a repetition of 2007’s Vargstenen. After 4 years, signing with Napalm Records, getting a new drummer and losing violinist Janne Liljeqvist, can Månegarm present a fresh face and fill their little niche in folk metal?

Finntroll – Blodsvept Review

Finntroll – Blodsvept Review

I sometimes have wondered whether or not Finntroll is proof that we live in someone’s hypothetical universe. This smarmy imagineer in a banal universe somewhere, may have constructed an elaborate The Producers-like scheme to produce a flop that makes him money. “How about,” he says to himself, “a group of Finns, speaking in a minor dialect of Swedish, dressed up as characters from the LARP version of Changeling: The Dreaming and make folk-influenced heavy metal, complete with a screaming madman instead of a singer! Who on earth would buy that?” Were this hypothetical businessman able to see into our not-so-hypothetical universe he would most certainly be surprised to see that this motley menagerie of Österbottningar that fits his description are releasing their 6th full-length record in just a few days time — and it’s their second on one of metal’s premier labels.