Hailing from Chile, today we have the folk version of Alcest: Bauda. This three-piece ensemble creates a very majestic unique sound when combining brilliant Post-Rock/Metal structures with lush acoustic guitars. “Euphoria…Of Flesh, Men and the Great Escape” is one of those releases that catches your attention thanks to how well-crafted the music is and how the atmosphere draws you into the band’s sound.
Opening with a very straight forward Post-Rock/Metal track titled “Ghosts of Phantalassa”, the band wastes no time and after the momentum is built, tracks like “Humanimals” and “Silhouettes” beautifully combine the aggressive Post-Metal sections with the lush Folk elements, something we haven’t quite heard before and Bauda deserves props for taking a daring risk and pull through successfully. With these two tracks clocking at around 20 minutes, the album really pulls all the stops since the opening songs featuring a little bit of everything neatly packed in cohesive songs.
Perfectly mixing aggression and melody, today we have Canada’s Catuvolcus and their amazing latest release “Gergovia”. In this exciting album the band perfectly blends elements of Pagan/Folk Metal with Black Metal and delivers nine tracks of pure melodic chaos. After setting a Folky mood with “Elaver”, the band quickly gets down to business with the crushing “Par monts et par vaux”.
Filled with extremely aggressive vocals and blasting guitar riffs, this release has no shortage of epic moments that are just too many to mention. The drumming keeps things running smoothly, but it’s the sense of melody the band has that keeps the songs being different and extremely good. A clear example of this is the very uplifting “Le colline de Chanturge” and its lush intro followed by waves of powerful riffs. Reminding us of bands like Mythotin and Himinbjorg, Catuvolcus is one of the most intense and skilled bands we have listened to in a while.
The Finish masters of Folk Metal return with another hard-hitting dosage of brilliant music that while to as good as “From Afar” it is still pretty damn entertaining. Pummeling through ten tracks, “Unsung Heroes” has very similar vibe to the band’s earlier releases: “Ensiferum” and “Iron”, but with a much more capable vocalist in Petri Lindroos. The thing we love about Ensiferum is that the band does not dwell on trying to fit millions of instruments into 4 minute tracks, but they rather focus on crafting epic melodies with the basic guitar, bass guitar, and drums combination.
Creating the perfect epic ambiance, “Symbols” opens the release in a manner that we imagine some epic medieval stuff happening like on Game of Thrones. ”In My Sword I Trust” is your quintessential ‘battle song’ with epic arrangements, powerful guitars, and very commanding vocals. Keeping up with excellent melodic guitars and very present Folk-elements, “Unsung Heroes” keeps the mood and morale quite high. This is why we prefer Ensiferum to bands like Eluivetie and Turisas, the band knows exactly how to keep the momentum going, deliver epic songs, and fuse Folk elements without overpowering the guitars and the general direction of the music.
Continuing with their high-spirited Folk Metal music, today we have Korpiklaani and their latest opus titled “Manala”. Cranking out thirteen songs (including the bonus track) of uber catchy music, it is very cool to see that the band kept the creative juices flowing and managed to deliver another excellent album one year after the release of their previous one. Featuring a darker (and probably deeper) edge to their lyrical concept, the band has crafted a release that will surely please most of the older fans of the band and while not featuring their traditional ‘drinking song’, the cheerful spirit of the band is equally present in this release.
“Kunnia” gives way to this release with the typical up-beat Folk approach that has made the band world-know and has kept them as one of the best in the genre. The singing is very well crafted and nicely fits every mood transmitted by the band. The instrumentation is excellently selected and never abused, allowing the hard-rocking sound of the guitars to be enjoyed without any distractions. Things get a bit more powerful with “Tuonelan Tuvilla” thanks to the heavy guitars, with the violin nicely complementing them.
Canada’s answer to Arkona comes with the name of Valfreya, and their debut full-length release titled “Path to Eternity” showcases the band’s talents. Fronted by Crook, the band’s charismatic female vocalist, Valfreya delivers a good 50 minutes of an intense mixture of Melodic Black Metal with Folk Metal elements, perfectly balanced to create epic moments similar to the ones created by bands like Wintersun, Equilibrium and Turisas.
With the intro track bleeding into “Deity's Grace”, the band quickly establishes a very regal sound with a crystal clear production. Gradually increasing its intensity, “Path to Eternity” is a very well-crafted album that showcases a promising band with a very rich sound. Alternating between angelic clean vocals and demonic harsh screams, Crook does an excellent job in carrying the band through the 10 tracks presented in this release.
With a very lush and elaborate sound, today we have Llvme and their second full-length release “Yia De Nuesu”. Mixing elements from Doom, Folk, and Black/Death Metal, this band has a very rich and entertaining sound that will blow you away with excellent melancholic passages and sheer brutality moments.
Opening with the majestic “1188-1230” track, this release immediately establishes a melancholic atmosphere full of aggression and emotions. The female vocals and violins in this track are excellent and nicely contrast the heavy elements of the track. “Helmantica” brings forth a more aggressive stance from the band and some very Dimmu Borgir-esque keyboards. The riffing is very well crafted and the drums are stellar. “Vettonia” has that same Folk Metal vibe that bands like Eluveitie exploit to no end (the bagpipes), but it somewhat feels different with some nice stop-and-go moments and the direct Amorphis ‘rip-off’ section at the end of the track.
After reviewing what felt like thousands of uninspired Viking/Folk Metal releases in 2011, we now find ourselves wondering where these kinds of albums are in 2012. After the disappointing latest release of Eluveitie, it is Heidevolk’s turn on the hot seat. “Batavi” marks the band’s fourth full-length release and it shows great maturity from the band in terms of songwriting, but not too much in terms of diversity.
Using almost no ‘fancy’ Folk instruments, the band relies on powerful and catchy guitar riffs to carve their own sound. While we would have immediately discarded this album if we heard a fucking hurdy gurdy, but Heidevolk delivers a very well-targeted riffing assault that will appeal to fans of bands like Tyr, Falkenbach and Moonsorrow. For over 39 minutes, “Batavi” delivers very traditional and ‘simple’ songs that are pretty solid due to their catchiness.
After their highly popular and very well crafted “Everything Remains as It Never Was”, Eluveitie returns with another dosage of ….more of the same. If you liked the previous release, “Helvetios” will feel very familiar and you will surely enjoy it as a worthy continuation. However, if you are looking for something different this is not the place to look for it.
Don’t get us wrong, Eluveitie’s music is very well crafted and enjoyable but after 4-5 songs we find ourselves wondering if they all have been the same. In “Helvetios” we noticed the traditional structure of all Eluveitie albums and some songs like “Scorched Earth” are nice to change the monotony of the release, but then they are followed by tracks like “Meet the Enemy” that are just more of the same.
With the current world filled with countless releases that sound very much alike, Nordheim makes their contribution in that category with their Folk/Viking Metal release “Lost in the North”. Don’t get us wrong, the band does a good job in making high-intensity, well-crafted music, but they lack the creativity to actually have a sound of their own.
Featuring a mash-up of Thyrfying, Turisas, Moonsorrow, Tyr, etc, the band has a very intense sound that pounds through 10 tracks with excellently executed instrumentation, but this is as far as it goes. The choir-like structures are very typical, the keyboards are very typical, the screams are also very typical, even the basic melodies of the songs are just the same we have heard back. Yes, we agree that the band is very aggressive and has a high-intensity approach to the genre, but this has also been already done.
Just one year after their excellent release “Andromeda Awaiting”, Nucleus Torn returns with another brilliant excursion into Avant-garde Folk Metal but now with a Progressive twist. Making homage to 70’s Progressive Rock/Metal bands, “Golden Age” is a lush release that will intoxicate you since the first minute with its very intricate and yet exquisite songs.
Being considerably more diverse and exciting than any previous Nucleus Torn release, “Golden Age” delivers six beautifully crafted tracks that showcase the band’s ability in combining stunning musical passages with harmonious vocals. With Fredy Schnyder handling most of the instrumentation and the production work, “Golden Age” sounds as good as you can ever imagine Nucleus Torn sounding.