Sunday, April 27, 2008

... And They Came From Faroe

Well Paganfest 2008 is come and gone. Unfortunately, Eluveitie drop out of the tour much to my dismay. Local band O'Faolain stepped in to fill out the line up with a decent set of epic black metal. I'll have to keep my eyes on them. I also found out later that Suidakra will be joining the tour starting May 5th. I would have loved to have seen them. Ah well, maybe next year.

Tyr for their part put on a fine performance both energetic and fun. Unfortunately it was only about 20 minutes long. A damned shame if you ask me. Turisas put on a helluva show with full outfits and face paint and a load of energy. And finally Ensiferum blew me away with their technical prowess and aggressive speed without losing the folk elements. A great performance and a powerful end to the night.

They did not have the CD's I was hoping to pick up there, so today I'll be looking Tyr's "How Far To Asgaard"

Tyr is a viking metal band from the Faroe Islands that do a rather unique style of Viking metal. The lyrics are steeped in Norse/ Faroese mythology, however the music is a little different then your standard Viking metal.

Their sound is more rock based with an almost Black Sabbath style riffing. It's like doom metal without the doom feel. "How Far To Asgaard" kicks off with the one of the bands most popular songs "Hail To The Hammer". This is an anthemic, proud song and rousing.

"Sands In The Wind" has a strong rock feel with a nice solo and a faster tempo which is nice because the album doesn't vary much with speed. "Excavation" is a somber tune and a little droney.

"Ten Wild Dogs" incorporates some swirly guitar/bass work and choppy riff work. "Gods Of War" has the most doomy sound with crunching riffs, some nice solo work and a narrative feel. The album closer and title track "How Far To Asgaard" is doom-ish as well with some crushing riffs.

"Ormurin Langi" is a very traditional song that plays like a folk anthem. My favourite track here though is "The Rune". The song is sweetly melodic and almost haunting in atmosphere. A moving tune.

Overall this is a unique and fine start to this bands career. Next week I'll take a look at Tyr's "Eric The Red".

Sunday, April 20, 2008

My Way Or The Varangian Way

Turisas's follow up album "The Varangian Way" sees the band with a bit more focus which I think is in part due to the conceptual theme. It's the story of the Varangian's that ventured eastward and southward through what is now Russia into Constantinople. A fascinating topic. Lately I've been picking up all kinds of Viking themed music and this is a fine album.

The album still has the heavy symphonic sound, but more viking metal style guitar work, and a lesser folk metal feel. There is even a sense of traditional Russian music in the melodies which makes me think of Swinish Multitude's "Paddy's In The Kremlin" just more metal.

The album sets sail with "To Holmgard And Beyond" which is a triumphant symphonic tune with a strong viking metal feel. The clean vocals and gang chorus' enhances that sound. "A Portage Into The Unknown" continues with some beautiful orchestrations that are movie soundtrack quality and a more majestic viking sound. I'm reminded more of Thyrfing style viking metal on this album.

"Field's Of Gold" brings out their Bal-Sagoth style orchestrations and a very theatrical feel. "Five Hundred And One" takes the minimal folk elements into majestically theatrical metal tune. The narrative vocals adds some nice atmosphere. "In The Court Of Jarisleif" is a flat out traditional style folk metal tune with a Russian flavour and a party atmosphere much like Korpiklaani.

"The Dnieper Rapids" is a harsher faster tune with black metal intensity and some crushing riffs. However, my favourite track is "Cursed Be Iron". This song has some killer Einherjer style riffs and is probably one of their more brutal tunes even with the traditional elements. I'm hoping they play this song at Pagan Fest this coming Friday!

The album closer is a powerful majestic tune with a regal, triumphant chorus and an epic theatrical sound. If Symphony X played viking metal this would probably be what they sound like. A huge tune and a great ending.

Everything on "The Varangian Way" just seems to fit and the Russian/Viking themes both lyrically and musically is beautiful and well executed. Turisas is branching out musically with losing their style. They are enhancing it.

Coming up next week will hopefully be Turisas's "Rasputin" ep which I want to pick up at the concert or if not Tyr's "How Far To Asgaard".

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hearts Of Steel

Another band on the bill for Paganfest 2008 is Finland's Turisas. Turisas's play a mix of viking folk metal that's slightly out of the ordinary. Today I'll be looking at the bands full length debut "Battle Metal".

This album kinda throws me each time I listen to it. It's viking metal at its core, but there is a strong folk element and more symphonic than most viking metal bands.

The album opens with "Victoriae And Triumphi Dominus" which is like a Rhapsody (Of Fire) orchestral intro with viking chorus's. "As Torches Rise" brings the metal in the form of heavily symphonic black metal with folk elements. Like Bal-Sagoth without the narration.

"Among Ancestors" features a similar style of heavy symphonics and black metal intensity. The title track does too with a more triumphant viking influence. "The Messenger" takes those heavy symphonics and blends them better with a sound more akin to Moonsorrow.

"One More" is heavier on the folk side with Elvenking style violin work and a more traditional sound. "Sahti-Waari" blends the folk and viking elements while flavouring it up with their orchestral touch. The album closer "Katuman Kaiku" is a more traditional sounding folk instrumental with the metal styles of say Korplikaani. A beautiful piece.

"The Land Of Hope And Glory" has an Egyptian sound to it and a more groove oriented folk melody. "Midnight Sunrise" is probably my favourite track because of its more focused folk metal feel. With the added female vocals it creates an epic traditional sound like Finntroll and Elvenking.

"Prologue For R.R.R" is essentially an atmospheric narrative, albeit inspiring, that intros "Rex Regi Rebellis". "R.R.R" is a Finntroll influenced folk metal tune with stronger orchestral elements.

Overall, I really enjoy the hugeness of this album, though at times it seems like the band is still waffling between viking metal and folk metal with out truly embracing both. I believe they remedied that on their follow up "The Varangian Way".

That review is coming up next Sunday.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Festival Of Pagans

Coming up in a few weeks is Pagan Fest 2008 tour which I'll be attending and to get ready for it I thought I'd look at a couple of the bands that are on this tour. Today I'll be looking at Eluveitie a Helvetian Celtic metal. Feel free to check out my review of Eluveitie's debut EP "Ven" here.

Eluveitie's full length debut "Spirit" continues with the Celtic heavy style of folk metal though not as chaotic as on "Ven". "Spirit" feels more organized (not saying "Ven"s chaos was bad) This seems more polished. The sound here mixes Waylander's flute-ish melodies and Elvenking's violin rhythms and add Asmegin's brutality and you might get some idea here.

The album opens with the title track "Spirit" whose traditional instruments set the mood and style before the guitars and such kick in with the metal. Nature sounds carry through this album like on "Ven" and adds some authenticity.

"Aidu" is a traditional sounding tune that's almost atmospheric in its subtlety, whereas "Siraxta" catchy folk groove opens the song for a good minute and a half before the band rocks out with some crunchy riffs. This song blends traditional melodies and metal ferociousness wonderfully. This is my favourite song here. The song takes Celtic music and then adds black metal intensity to it.

"The Gaulish War" leans more towards the metal end without forgetting its folk core, just more brutal. "Of Fire, Wind And Wisdom" takes the folk roots and pummels them with crushing brutality. The same with "The Song Of Life" which blasts into you with blast beats galore and ripping riffs.

"Tegernako" and "The Endless Knot" balance out the folk elements and metal more evenly and is reminiscent of Moonsorrow or even Ragnorok (UK), just not nearly as epic. "The Dance Of Victory" and "AnDro" have a more traditional blend of folk elements in the metal more in line with Waylander and Elvenking though with a Viking style of metal riffing.

Overall, I find Eluveitie to be top of their game in the Celtic metal genre. They don't split the metal and folk like Ragnarok (UK) does and they aren't as brutal as say Asmegin, but rather fall more in line with Waylander with more viking metal tendencies in their riffs and chorus's.

I am looking forward to Paganfest big time and I have a feeling Eluveitie will be a memorable experience. I have yet to purchase the bands new album "Slania". I've been denying myself until the show where I'll grab it and review shortly after.

Up next I'll take a look Turisas's "Battle Metal" album.