Release DetailsLABEL Napalm Records
RELEASED ON 11/6/2007
posted on 11/2007 By:
Folk metal is awesome. As silly as the swords and trollish imagery may be and as gratuitous the use of fiddles and such may get, how can you honestly dislike a subgenre as downright jolly as this one? Pick up any album from one of the bigger names - Finntroll, Korpiklaani, Ensiferum – and you’re sure to soak up plenty of loving odes to trolls, forests, epic quests, and all things alcoholic. Personally, I’m fine with that. Metal doesn’t have to be all about nun-raping and Satan-fellating, after all. Sometimes you just want to have a mug or six of ale and yell “LAI LAI HEY!” at the top of your lungs while eyeing up the lusty wench behind the bar.
It’s not to say that folk metal is all kilts and beer halls; for every “Beer, Beer” and “Trollhammaren,” there are plenty of seriously folk-minded fellows out there (i.e. Mael Mordha, Adorned Brood, the late Windir, and dozens more) to balance out their more over-the-top brethren. Denmark’s Svartsot falls somewhere in between the two extremes. Their sound is rather distinctive, coming across as a blend of Amon Amarth or mid-period Bolt Thrower’s groovy melodeath and the darker, more mature Finntroll of Ur Jordens Djup, sprinkled liberally with flutes a la Eluveitie or Skyclad. All that name-dropping is probably lost on 95% of you, so to put it another, less folk-metal-fan-girly way: Ravenenes Saga is primarily a death metal album, rife with heavy grooves and bouncy melodies and a strong emphasis on traditional instruments and a decidedly medieval atmosphere. Unlike the vast majority of folk metal outfits, this one chose to shun cold Nordic black metal in favor of a more death metal-oriented approach, which proved to be a wise choice. The vocals are a particular pleasure – a deep berserker roar compliments a high-pitched black metal shriek (the only element of BM to be found on the album), and clean vocals are eschewed in favor of a rousing chorus of“Hey, Ho!” which admittedly get a little silly after repeated listens, but still make me want to burn and pillage me a village or two before calling it a night. Svartsot have got a different, interesting sound going on, one that really allows them to stand out from the rest of the forest clan and provides a nice breath of fresh air in a scene that doesn’t allow much room for innovation (there are really only so many ways to combine metal with folk music, and most of them have already been done many times over).
Ravenenes Saga is an awfully enjoyable album. I know the scores may seem a tad high for a largely-unknown folk metal band from Denmark, but they are deserved.The production is almost unnervingly good for this style of music, for one thing. Svartsot also manage to take fairly simple, traditional song structures and mold them to fit their own purposes. The songs all follow a similar pattern, but escape the same-ness that one may expect. From the polka-tinged bounce of “Havats Plage” to the beautifully-arranged, folky woodwinds on “Jotunheimsfoerden” and hearty Viking chants of “Skovens Kaelling,” Svartsot have crafted a damn solid folk/Viking/death metal album, and I for one am eager to see where these Danes go next. Recommended for folk metal aficionados and more adventurous melodic death metallers.
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