Personal bias is a bitch, and it can be difficult to be objective when a band changes membership. For anyone new to this blog or its associated podcast, I absolutely love Liv Kristine’s voice and am completely unapologetic about it. When she and Alexander Krull divorced, she left (or was ousted, depending on who you ask) Leaves’ Eyes. Couple that with some less-than-stellar recent releases, and I wasn’t sure if I would even check this album out or not. After seeing the band live on their recent U.S. tour with Sabaton and Battle Beast, I figured it was in my best interest to try and give Sign of the Dragonhead an objective listen.
I’ve been a huge fan of folk metal, Scando-Germanic mythology, and related themes for many years, but there has been a tendency for this type of metal to get stale over the years. Can the Swedes in From North show me something new on their self-titled debut, or will it be another trip across familiar oceans?
As we approach the solstice, the days are getting shorter, and my free time appears to be following suit. Here are some brief thoughts on some newer releases.
When asked to name locales of great folk metal bands, Finland, Russia, and Norway top most people’s lists. What if I told you there was a hidden gem hailing from the typically mundane state of Ohio in the USA? Cincinnati may not be home to typically harsh climates, but it is home to Winterhymn.
So-called "pagan" metal can be a tricky beast. Ranging from dissonant black metal with the thematic lyrics buried under muddy production to blackened folk metal, you never know which you’re getting into until you hit the "Play" button. Fortunately, Spain’s Hordak lean heavily to the latter, which is more up my alley. The band presents their fourth album, Padre, and they pretty much nail it.
The Scandinavians lay claim to all things "kvlt" and "extreme" in the world of black metal, but do any of the members of these bands risk government-sanctioned execution merely for their lyrical content? I think not. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is a different culture entirely, and Al-Namrood risk their very safety to spread their message against the influence religion has on their society.
The Ukraine seems like an odd place for a group of Viking warriors, but Mykolaiv’s Miellnir emerge from the mountains with their ten-track debut album, Incineration Astern.
If you call yourself a metal fan, chances are you’ve heard of Running Wild or Alestorm, the two biggest names in the "pirate metal" subgenre. Code of Nelson’s Folly is one of the newest entries into this field and have released their first five-song EP, Beergasm, as a (currently) name-your-price download on Bandcamp.