Hailing from Austria, today we have self-labeled “Alpine Metal” outfit Vinsta and their highly melodic and melancholic release “Freiweitn”. Perfectly balancing folky and melodic passages with lush vocals and heavier riffs and growls, this release is quite lively and engaging. For fans of bands like Eluveitie and Wilderun, this release feels fresh and excellently crafted.
After the acoustic intro, the band leads of with the melodic distorted guitars of “Schwoaze Låckn”, a trance inducing piece that sets a very lush and foresty mood. The string instruments are very well arranged and work perfectly in unison with the harmonious clean vocals. As “Freiweitn” and “Wundaberg” keep the same opening mood, songs like “Entarische Gstoit” showcase a heavier Proggy/Death Metal side to the band.
Hailing from Russia, Akrona has been one of the most consistent and intense Pagan Metal bands in the last few years. Thanks to their front-woman Masha Arkhipova intense live performances and a cohesive musical core, the band has gained worldwide acclaim. With “Kob'” the band takes a darker and more sinister tone with their music and we love it! Clocking in at 60 minutes, this release certainly broadens the band’s musical horizons while delivering some of their signature intensity.
Opening with the highly atmospheric “Izrechenie. Nachalo”, the album sets a very somber and hypnotic vibe. On the album title track we are eased into some sinister Black Metal riffs that quickly transform into Buzrum-esque (‘Filosofem’ era) passages. The mood is definitely more restrained at moments, showcasing the band’s ability to craft atmospheric and more tempered passages while still crafting intense tracks like “Ydi”, “Ugasaya”, and “Mor”.
Showing their excellent 2019 release, “Sateet palata saavat”, was no fluke, Finland’s Vorna returns with an even more expansive and bombastic release with “Aamunkoi”. The band’s sound is as unique as before, perfectly mixing Folk/Pagan/Black Metal with a hefty dose of atmospheric elements. Featuring over 44 minutes of lush vocal arrangements alongside crafty instrumentation and a solid level of heaviness, this release is quite rich and highly enjoyable.
Opening with “Hiljaisuus ei kestä” a very lush and folky mood is established thanks to a mixture of clean and harsh vocals alongside solid riffing and tight drumming. The band’s melancholic nature starts oozing more profusely as “Harva päättää hyvästeistään”, “Aika pakenee”, and “Valo” come around with their dramatic atmospherics and crafty tempo changes, we even got some Amorphis-esque vibes here and there.
While not a 2022 release, we are reviewing a handful of albums we quite enjoyed at the end of 2021 but didn’t have enough time to review. One of those is the outstanding EP from France’s Ainulindalë, titled “Les chroniques d'Arda”. Featuring a combination of dreamy atmospherics, lush epic arrangements and a hefty dose of aggression, this EP nicely introduces a promising outfit.
Combining elements from bands like Enid, Battlelore, Turisas, “Les damnés de Numénor” sets a very regal and effective mood. We particularly like the crafty synths paired with solid screams and epic clean vocals. As “Dagor-nuin-Giliath” and “Le geste de Maeglin” up the tempo, the band nicely unleashes crafty drumming alongside melodic guitars to keep things fluid and the headbanging to the max.
Unleashing a very cohesive and emotional musical experience, today we have Iskander and their third full-length release “Vergezicht”. Perfectly flowing between six tracks and nearly 64 minutes of music, this release combines melancholy, harshness, and dreaminess in a very robust and enjoyable package. Released through Eisenwald, this album showcases a great level of maturity and expert craftsmanship from this Ducth duo.
Opening with the lush acoustic elements of “Gezag”, there is a magical mood that is slowly set until it's nicely contrasted by heavy riffs and harsh vocals. Oozing with melancholy, songs like “Bloeddraad” and “Gewesten der Tijd” perfectly showcase the band’s range and creativity, with tons of unique tempo changes, atmospheric and dreamy passages alongside haunting vocal arrangements. However, the heavy side of the band is always present with furious onslaughts like on “Baken”, making this band comparable to a mixture of Thurisaz and Thyrfing.
After a wait of 8 years, Thyrfing is finally back with their high-octane brand of Viking/Pagan Metal. “Vanagandr” unravels nearly 50 minutes of superbly catchy and highly polished melodic music, just as one would expect from this band. Perfectly mixing precise guitar work with lush atmospherics and firm vocal melodies, this release is as good as it gets in this genre.
Opening with “Döp dem i eld”, we get that vibrant mixture of atmospherics and incisive guitar riffs. Always creating a very epic Folky/Viking vibe while maintaining a hefty dose of heaviness, “Undergångens länkar” and “Fredlös” are prime examples of the band’s duality. We particularly enjoy how the band uses additional instruments to adorn a very powerful guitar-driven musical core like “Järnhand” shows.
With a very well curated roster of artists, Eisenwald surprises us today with Odal and their highly melodic release “Welten Mutter”. Featuring over 47 minutes of crafty Pagan Black Metal, this German outfit manages to carve a unique style out of combining traditional elements with unconventional instruments. If you are into bands like Thyrfing and Månegarm, this is a band that will catch your attention.
Opening with the melodically intense “...um Ewiges zu schaffen”, the band sets a very lively and intense mood with piercing guitars and catchy tempo changes. We particularly enjoy the band’s superbly melodic core, as waves and waves of riffs make tracks like this, and “Hellwach schwelgend”, and “Schattental” very enjoyable. The additional string instruments nicely give that Pagan/Folk BM edge to the music, breaking any monotony and keeping things interesting.
One of the few benefits of working from not being able to travel the last few months is that we have extra time to dig up more promos that make it to our inbox. Back in May we missed the release of Vermilia’s stunning EP “Keskeneräisiä tarinoita”, filled with lush atmospheres and a good eye for crushing aggression as contrast. If you like bands like WITTR, Agalloch, but with a more Pagan/heavier edge, this is a release to check out.
The EP leads off with the very dramatic “Hauras, Kuollut, Kaunis”, a track that slowly builds up with a certain folky vibe and deep clean vocals, creating a very dark and somber atmosphere. Not being shy from heavy riffs and blistering drumming, “Taivas Hiljaa Huutaa” quickly changes the pace to a lively Pagan/Folk Metal style led by firm clean female vocals that suddenly transform into harsh screams. The variety of elements makes this song be quite enjoyable and diverse, while delivering an extra level of catchiness.
Unleashing one of the most cathartic albums of 2020, today we have October Falls and their latest opus “A Fall of an Epoch”. Seven years since their last release, the band returns with their blend of Atmospheric/Folky Black Metal that perfectly combines elements from bands like Ensiferum with the more vicious onslaughts of outfits like Behexen and Horna. With a hefty dosage of brutality and crafty introspective passages, this release will command your full attention for nearly 55 minutes.
The album kicks off with the bleak acoustic guitars of the title track, this solemn peace suddenly transforms in all-out- brutality with crushing riffs, blistering drums, and punishing screams. Within the all-out pummeling onslaught, there is a very nice melodic delineation that has that Folk/Pagan Metal vibe as it contrasts with melodic passages. On a slower tone, “The Endtimes Rising” delivers a nice blend of incisive guitar riffs and harsh screams, perfectly framed on a more melodic drum track.
As one of the most expect releases of 2020, today we have Iceland/Germany’s Árstíðir lífsins and their “Saga á tveim tungum II: Eigi fjǫll né firðir” release. With a very enigmatic and ritualistic approach, this band’s Black Metal onslaughts are perfectly flanked by rich lyrics and lush mood setting atmospheric passages. If you are looking for an intense release that sets a very dark tone by mixing plenty of different elements with crushing Black Metal, you do not want to miss out on this one.
Building an eerie atmosphere in its two first tracks, the band creates a killer anticipation for the ‘heavier’ stuff, as “Sem járnklær nætr dragask nærri” rolls. With a relentless drumming backdrop and pummeling riffs, this track sets a very punishing mood that is perfectly complemented by creepy choir arrangements and a sinister pace. With “Gamalt ríki faðmar þá grænu ok svǫrtu hringi lífs ok aldrslita” the band keeps their destructive momentum going with waves of energetic guitar riffs and crafty tempo changes. As the song progresses, you get a very epic vibe that usually Pagan BM bands manage to craft.