Whenever I listen to some of the recent bands that play the viking metal style, I always think to myself, “Isn’t this about Vikings? Shouldn’t it be rawer and darker?”. That is the problem with this genre. Many bands that take it up end up following the melodic and symphonic route, to the point where it just doesn’t feel raw. In the case of Ukraine’s Miellnir, there are symphonic elements and melodic undertones, but their take on the Viking style is one that is raw and blackened. Their debut release on Stygian Crypt Productions, 2014’s ‘Incineration Astern’ is a serious take on the genre and one that does not place restrictions on the symphony and grandiosity.
While the USA does seem have quite a number of folk metal bands, it’s the bands from the other side of the pond that are known far and wide when it comes to folk metal. Isenmor from Baltimore, USA play a style of viking folk metal that takes a lot of cues from the European folk playbook. Listening to their debut EP ‘Land of the Setting Sun’, it is easy to make an assumption that these guys are from somewhere in Europe. Armed with dual violinists, this six piece take the listener on a ride to a time when the Vikings sailed west and set foot on the new world.
Of all the varieties of folk music out there, the one that goes so well with extreme metal is of the Celtic variety. Over the years, bands like Primordial, Cruachan and Suidakra have pretty much perfected celtic folk’s crossover with extreme metal while adding signature styles of their own into the mix. Following their footsteps is the five piece from Ireland that goes by the name Celtachor. This band is fairly new to the game and their second album ‘Nuada of the Silver Arm’ sees them continue their experiment in finding their own style of Celtic themed extreme metal.
“Sleip∙nir -(slāp’nir) Odin’s eight-legged steed, and the greatest of all horses. The offspring of Loki and the gray stallion Svadilfari, Sleipnir, the swiftest on the earth could bear Odin over sea, through the air, and to and from the land of the dead.” The reason I start the review with this quote from the band’s Facebook page is that it represents the music of The Flight Of Sleipnir very well. Listening to this album is what it must feel like to sit on the back of Sleipnir and journey over the landscapes of Scandinavia.
Such an invigorating sound masked in a tone of great inner emotion that gives deliverance to those treading the path of doom. Protokult is a Toronto based folk / pagan metal band. ‘No Beer In Heaven’ is definitely a palette of peaceful ambient melody and vibrant folk elements coupled with brilliant production and solid layers of artistic yet heavy guitar, bass and drums. Having said that, the band mainly portrays an ambiance of celebration and soothing ceremonial gatherings where folks frolic and men of old tell tales of their adventures as they wait at death’s door. Some of the songs also possess a hint of darkness that show signs of origins from darker roots of pagan / black metal.