Folk Metal Tribute To The End Of The World ...
This album is a hard listen in that it has a lot of traditional folk style music to keep it from being a great driving album, but the black metal tunes interspersed throughout make it hard to relax to. This makes it hard to market as well. I think it's a great album, but I don't spin it that often if you know what I mean. However, it is essential for any folk metal fan to at least give it a try. Now on to the music and let me see if I can shed some light onto what the heck I've been eluding to.
"Domgeorn" starts off with a crow cawing and traditional Celtic percussion on "þe Him & Hrefnagod Gaelð". Orchestral keys and an acoustic melody accompany the baritone Gaelic (I'm not positive, so don't quote me) vocals and sets a remarkably unique mood for a metal album. We then get treated to "Wodnesuno" which is an aggressively dark black metal tune with some chilling screams and some death metally vocals for a mid-paced standard black metal tune. We then get treated to a couple more traditional folk songs "þonne Waeron We Haeleð" and "Sigorleoð" with an almost narrative feel and a realism better than a lot of actual folk musicians. It's not until after 10 minutes worth of Celtic style folk music that we get another metal tune in "Ni Fuil An Sabras Aðragad Deað" which is mid-paced with loads of orchestral melody much like Bal-Sagoth and some Manowar style soloing.
Here is where we get more into metal/folk mix. Up to this point it's been folk then metal and so on. "To Wælhealle" is an atmospheric narrative style song with waves and battle sounds and a brooding feel much like the "Bram Stoker's Dracula" soundtrack and ends with a celtic harp lullaby outro. This leads into the metal ballad "I Hear The Mountain" which is very much like Manowars "Heart Of Steel". "Legion Of Death" brings are first real mix of folk metal which starts with celtic drum and then black metal style riffing with some clean vocals, but black metal screams. There is also viking style chorus's and Manowar like solos.
If Loreena McKennit did mid-paced black metal we'd get "Samhain" with its wonderful mix of celtic instruments and heavy guitar work; almost a power metal feel. If the Chieftans used electric guitars we'd likely get "John Barleycorn" which is very catchy and power metal like (another heavily Manowar influenced piece). "Paet Aesctreow" is doomy and death metally, and then the album ends with "Beloved Of The Raven God" which is a melodic new agey celtic song with birds and traditional Celtic style vocals both male and female. It has a Dead Can Dance sound to it.
I say the album ends with "Beloved ..." cause it bookends ends with the crow cawing, but without much delay we are treated to a black metal cover of Manowar's "Heart Of Steel" which for a while I didn't know was there, cause the album is so long I rarely got to the end. The cover, though faithful, just isn't the same, but the Celtic harp melody is nice, Deörþ just isn't Eric Adams. The cover is quite faithful musically, very majestic and powerful, but I liken that to the original song being simply a great tune and it'd be hard to wreck it. I do think this is why there is a strong Manowar influence though.
In the end I would say "Samhain" is my favourite because it best represents the folk/metal mix, but when I first heard "Wodnesuno" shrieks and all, it sent shivers down my spine. This is a fine album and very unique sound, but I find the traditional folk songs tend to slow the albums momentum. Towards the end of the album it's like they started to get the mix really right. Any folk music fan should atleast give Ragnarok (UK) a listen, even just for the novelty...