"This is a simplistic (sometimes a little too simplistic) blend of catchy hard rock overlaid with traditional melodies"


"Elemental Tales is a fun album to listen to, and if that's all you're after it will serve you well"


"In the Shadow of a Mountain is a decent album with moments of brilliance, rather than simply an exceptional album."


"Though Helvetios doesn't quite live up to its billing as a concept, it's still an impressive effort"


"Kitab Al-Awthan is a genuinely refreshing listen and one that is highly recommended for anyone seeking an original and interesting album"

Monday, 2 July 2012


Exciting news for Ensiferum fans! The band have announced that their new album, to be titled Unsung Heroes, will be released on August 27th. Clocking in at over an hour of metal, Unsung Heroes will feature 10 tracks – including the epic, 16-minute 'Passion Proof Power'. In a statement on their official website, the band said: “We've tried to push the different aspects of what we do as far as we can, the sonic scope is wider than ever. The folk elements go further down that path and the metallic parts will absolutely rip your face off!”

The tracklist is as follows:
  1. Symbols
  2. In My Sword I Trust
  3. Unsung Heroes
  4. Burning Leaves
  5. Celestial Bond
  6. Retribution Shall Be Mine
  7. Star Queen (Celestial Bond part II)
  8. Pohjola
  9. Last Breath
  10. Passion Proof Power

They're not the only band who have announced new material. Egyptian progressive metal band Sand Aura have announced their debut album, entitled Elegy of the Orient. Six of the tracks will be re-recorded versions of tracks which appeared on the earlier Elegy of the Orient EP, but also includes some new material. The tracklist is as follows:
  1. The Sand Aura (From the Land of Nod)
  2. Aljahelia
  3. The Orphaned Child I (Pilgrimage for his Name)
  4. The Orphaned Child II (Fountain in the Desert)
  5. Fountains of Moses
  6. Ya Sabyya
  7. The Shepherd's Elegy
  8. Sidi Abd El-Raheem

In addition, Sand Aura have made new track 'The Shepherd's Elegy' available for streaming.

Russian metallers Beer Bear, have also announced the follow-up to their Folk 'n' Roll EP. The new full-length, Beyond the Invisible Line, is nearing completion and will be released in October. The album will consist of nine tracks, plus some bonus material. Here's the tracklist:
  1. Intro
  2. Bears' Wedding Day
  3. Fire-Mead
  4. Drink and Revel, Bears' Gentry!
  5. Folk 'n' Roll
  6. Beyond the Invisible Line
  7. Holger Danske
  8. Twin Soul
  9. Na Zielonej Ukrainie

In addition, the new album will be accompanied by a (slightly) changed logo, incorporating the Lithuanian cross. This reflects a change in the band's musical direction towards the hymns of middle age Poland and Lietuva. The band said: “On the next album there will be two songs of this direction. And the third album will be devoted to the history of Rzeczpospolita.”

There's also a new-old release on the horizon from Eluveitie, following fresh on the heels of their latest release, Helvetios. The band is releasing a new double CD package called The Early Years to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their formation. The collection will feature material from the band's first EP Vên (which will be entirely re-recorded) and debut album Spirit, as well as previously unreleased song 'Divico'.

In a statement on the band's official website, frontman Chrigel said:
 “The Early Years will give both old and new fans access to the very first steps in Eluveitie’s history. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years already!

“We had a lot of fun putting those songs on tape again – some of which we have been playing live to this day and that have developed together with us over all these years.

“With ‘Divico’ we have finally completed a song that has been in the works forever. We are happy to be able to present this little “classic” to you now – good things take time to ripen!”

Trollfest continue to tease us with updates ahead of their upcoming album, Brumblebassen, which is due for release on August 24th. The band have recently announced a whole host of bonus content available on the limited edition Digipack edition of the album. This includes two previously unreleased tracks and over 100 minutes of video, including a video diary from the Heidenfest Tour and making of Brumblebassen feature. In addition, Trollfest have released the song 'Illsint' from the album, which can be downloaded as an MP3 or viewed on Youtube.

Korpiklaani have also been busy whetting the appetite ahead of the August 3rd release of their eighth studio album Manala by releasing lyric videos of both the English and Finnish versions of new song 'Kunnia' ('Honor').

In more sad news, Orphaned Land have parted ways with long-serving guitarist Matti Svatizky. Svatizky had been with the band since its formation in 1991 and leaves after more than 20 years due to undisclosed reasons.

On a statement on the band's official website he said: “It is time for me to move on with my life. There are issues both on the personal and the professional levels that made me come to this decision, which has not been an easy one, and which I'm whole with and sure that will bring many positive things in the future.

“I wish the band many more fruitful years of creation and joy, and I wish you, the fans, many more years of enjoyment of what Orphaned Land has to offer, and who knows, maybe we'll meet again someday in the future, this way or another.”

The band had this to say: “How can you sum up two decades with a brother and a partner? The answer is simple: you can't. Matti is deeply immersed in Orphaned Land history and his uniqueness will surely be missed. All we can do is respect Matti's decision and wish him the best the future can offer for him. Orphaned Land was always a home for friends and shall remain such a place for Matti.”

Thursday, 14 June 2012


Before we even get properly started with this review, a quick word of warning for people who hate bagpipes: stay away! I know some people who simply can't abide the sound of bagpipes and if you're one of them Folkstone will be your idea of hell. Il Confine is all about the bagpipes, and they generally dictate the main melody of the songs. Fortunately for me, I quite like bagpipes, and I quite like Folkstone too.

If the sound of bagpipes initially generates an image of Celtic lands, it may seem a strange mix with the Italian lyrics throughout the album. However, it is in fact in keeping with the band's roots, utilising the baghèt – not a type of bread after all, but in fact a medieval bagpipe from the band's hometown of Bergamo.

Unlike so many other folk metal bands, Folkstone don't concern themselves with blistering speed, this is all about finding a groove and rocking out, medieval style. In short this is a simplistic (sometimes a little too simplistic) blend of catchy hard rock overlaid with traditional melodies. It makes for an instantly accessible and enjoyable listen.

The album starts strongly, with title track 'Il Confine' laying the foundations that the rest of the album will follow, quickly getting into a comfortable groove. Lead single 'Nebbie' follows, a delightfully catchy, bouncy number that captures the bagpipes at their best. However, while the band do attempt to mix things up with 'Omnia Fert Aetas' and 'Anomalus' the rest of the album falls into the trap of being slightly one-dimensional and forgettable. If the simplicity of the band's concept is attractive at first, after a few tracks it comes to feel rather limiting.

That's not to say that the rest of Il Confine is entirely forgettable. 'Storia Qualunque' livens things up by upping the tempo at just the right time, and provides a nice contrast to the meandering 'Anomalus'. A personal highlight is the epic 'Frammenti', a genuine breath of fresh air with its near-perfect synergy between guitar and bagpipes and tasteful inclusion of flute parts. This is one of the most refreshing folk metal songs I've heard in quite a while and is really worth the album's price alone. A word of praise also for the powerful vocals of Lorenzo Marchesi, which mark Folkstone out ahead of many other medieval metal bands and give extra weight to songs such as 'Luna' and 'Storia Qualunque', and really carries the album's main ballad, 'Ombre di Silenzio'.

In summary, Il Confine is a perfectly enjoyable album, if at times a little predictable and slightly samey. There are plenty of good things here to get excited about, and as a simple rock-out album it is an admirable attempt, however it lacks the depth to encourage repeat listens and by the end of the album some of the songs begin to blend into one another. Nevertheless, this is a band who have clearly discovered what they're good at and have focused on those elements of their music, and there's plenty to be said for that.


Tuesday, 29 May 2012


Svartby have in the past been derided as simply another derivative folk metal by-the-numbers band, a kind of budget Finntroll. On this, their third full-length, they have finally begun to answer some of those critics, and though Elemental Tales will win few awards for originality, it is the work of a band that is at last showing some desire to branch out and forge their own path. Gone are the broken Swedish lyrics, replaced instead with broken English. It's a start at least.

Their previous EP, Scum from Underwater, had been a small hint that change was afoot, though I dared not get my hopes up too much for this release. I needn't have worried, because in Elemental Tales all the positive signs from Scum from Underwater have been realised in long-play format.

The rip-roaring 'Flaming Balls' encapsulates perfectly the great things about this album. It doesn't let up for a second, grabbing the listener by the balls and yanking them repeatedly for three minutes. It's a breathless whirligig of noise that simply refuses to slow down and demonstrates the very best of Svartby. 'Scum from Underwater' and 'Morning Wood' further showcase a band that is at its best when they really let loose and unleash the noise.

The album seems to lose some of its momentum on some of its slower and midpaced tracks, such as 'Sleepy Devils' and 'Ash and Dust', and though it's commendable that Svartby have been trying to add a bit of variety to their repertoire, this is not an area in which they naturally seem to excel. 'Ash and Dust' in particular feels a little aimless, and the keyboard synths that carry this track through from start to finish sound a bit cheap and reminiscent of a tacky ringtone.

Musically this is all very familiar fare, mixing typically bombastic folkish melodies with Bodom-esque metal and it rarely strays from this tried and tested style. Most of the songs are catchy and easy to follow (for example, the excellent 'Done with the Wind'), which makes this the ideal album if familiarity and comfort is all you require of an album, but if it's a challenging listen you're seeking you won't find it here. A further word of warning: a sense of humour (and a pretty childish one at that) is required to really enjoy this album. Elemental Tales is a fun album to listen to, and if that's all you're after it will serve you well, but if you're looking for a deeper, more nuanced folk metal experience, you'd do well to look elsewhere.


Monday, 19 March 2012


Here's another bumper news roundup from folk metal bands around the world!

Century Media have announced the forthcoming release of Oriental Metal, a collection of Middle Eastern and Oriental-inspired metal compiled by Orphaned Land's Kobi Farhi. Clocking in at 52 minutes of metal, and featuring some of the biggest names on the scene, the tracklist is as follows:

  1. Orphaned Land – Sapari
  2. Amaseffer – Slaves for Life
  3. Arkan – Deus Vult
  4. Pentagram – Lions in a Cage
  5. Myrath – Merciless Times
  6. Almana Shchora – Elohim
  7. Nervecell – The Taste of Betrayal
  8. Khalas – Haz El Adala Mayel
  9. Nile – Kaffir
  10. Melechesh – Grand Gathas of Baal Sin
  11. Ahl Sina – Fountains of Muses

Melechesh, included on the above compilation, have release news of their own as well, in the form of digital EP, Mystics of the Pillar II. 'Mystics of the Pillar' was originally written and recorded for the band's 2010 album, The Epigenesis, but two different endings were recorded and mastered. This EP contains the alternate ending as well as instrumental versions of 'Sacred Geometry' and 'The Epigenesis'.

Many bands have been announcing further album news lately, including an avalanche of new album artwork.

Kicking things off are American band, Northsong, who have revealed the artwork for their upcoming album, The Final Journey. The artwork was designed by Valhalla Promotions, who specialise in promotional materials for folk, Viking and pagan metal bands.

In similar fashion, their compatriots Blodravn have also released new artwork for their forthcoming album Sæmd, which is currently being recorded. However, with the album still in production, this is not necessarily a finalised album cover.

Dutch thrashers Chain of Dogs have announced the tracklist for their upcoming EP, Deathworld. Consisting of three tracks featuring guest musicians from Finsterforst, Viatora and 'one other famous folk metal band', this release could be one to watch.

  1. D'r Zjwarte Hond va Krapoel (The Black Dog of Krapoel)
  2. Ich Bring d'r Droeëd (I Bring Death)
  3. Deathworld
Russians Kalevala are ready to release their new live acoustic album Osen v Stile Folk later this month and have also revealed the album artwork. Two songs ('Yarilo' and 'Plakali Verby') from the album are now available to listen to on the band's MySpace.

Eluveitie's new album Helvetios has met with commercial success around the world. The album sold 4242 copies in its first week of sales in the United States, according to Neilson Soundscan, placing it at number 143 on the Billboard top 200 chart and number 3 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart – Eluveitie's highest chart position ever. The album also met with chart success in Canada (#74), Switzerland (#4), Germany (#27) and Austria (#34).

German industrial folk metal band Tanzwut have released a video for the song 'Rückgratreißer'. This is the second video from the band's 2001 album Weiße Nächte and consists of live footage of the band in action.

Monday, 12 March 2012


Recorded on a shoestring budget in a Vancouver apartment, one could be forgiven for having low expectations of Trollband's debut album, In the Shadow of a Mountain. However, those expectations would soon be confounded, as this is an engaging and mature release, and a very enjoyable listen.

The most striking aspect of In the Shadow of a Mountain is the fantastic variety in the songwriting. With songs ranging from the folky 'Heathen Blood', to the epic title track, to the sinister 'Nidhoggr', there is plenty here to keep the listener interested throughout. Every track is competently written as well, and though a few of the tracks feel slightly uninspired, every song is perfectly listenable.

The album begins with 'Fire and Ash', a solid but unspectacular opening track, which acts as a gentle introduction to the band and gives a flavour of what to expect from the rest of the album, with harsh vocals over energetic Viking metal that is reminiscent of Ensiferum. The following track, 'Nidhoggr', veers in a completely different direction, its black metal stylings giving the track a far more sinister edge than most of the other material on the album. Third track, 'Heathen Blood' again signifies a change of tone to a typically high-tempo, folky drinking song. Again, it's competently done, featuring all you would expect from a typical folk metal by-the-numbers song, with folky keyboard melodies overlayed on top of speedy, driving metal. It lifts the pace nicely after the rather ponderous 'Nidhoggr', though it brings little in the way of actual innovation to the table.

Title track, 'In the Shadow of a Mountain' is a hulking beast of a song, sounding epic despite its low-fi production, but the real highlight of this album is 'The Return'. Full of energy and packed with instantly catchy riffs, the bludgeoning verses give way to lighter acoustic sections seamlessly, before returning to pummel the listener once again. A word also for what is effectively the album's closing track, 'We Live'. In truth, much of this song is fairly average – not poor, but nothing particularly special. However, it is the middle section of this song (from about 2 minutes, 40 seconds onwards) that really excited me. Such a simple riff but ever so catchy, it begins with a lone accordion before gradually building to epic proportions. This section alone is worth getting the album for.

As a self-funded release the production is understandably rough, but this hardly detracts from the music at all. There are of course times when it feels as if the songs would have benefited from a more professional production but I've heard plenty of releases from more established acts with lower sound quality than this and it is unlikely to spoil your enjoyment of the album.

While there is plenty of cause for optimism, Trollband's biggest task will be finding a way to stand out in an increasingly crowded genre. In the Shadow of a Mountain is a decent album with moments of brilliance, rather than simply an exceptional album. If Trollband are to break out of the underground they will have to harness their considerable potential to sustain those brilliant passages over the length of a whole album.


The album is available to download for FREE here.

Sunday, 4 March 2012


The folk metal bands of the world have been busy since our last update. Swedes Dråpsnatt have begun preparing for the upcoming release of their new album Skelepht. In a post on the band's MySpace page, the band explains the title of album (named after their hometown Skellefteå and the Skellefte River which flows through it), as well as giving a track-by-track rundown of the forthcoming album. Consisting of 8 tracks, the album's lyrical themes centre around the meaningless of existence, and the local mythology and culture of their hometown. It is due for release later this month.

Trollfest have announced on Facebook that they have finished the recording of new album, Brumblebassen and have begun the process of mixing it at Strand Studio. The album will consist of 12 tracks in total, but no release date has been confirmed yet.

Upcoming Spanish metallers Northland are to begin recording their highly-anticipated sophomore effort, confirming on Facebook that they are to enter the studio on March 5th. This is an album we're looking forward to hugely, having included Northland on our list of bands to look out for in 2012, so expect to hear plenty more from them on this site over the rest of this year.

With Ensiferum soundalikes Northland due to start recording, the originals themselves have been hard at work on their follow-up to 2009's From Afar. With recording well under way at Petrax Studio in Finland under the watchful eye of Hiili Hiilesmaa, Ensiferum announced on their website that the legendary Die Apokalyptischen Reiter will appear as special guests on the album, as well as Finnish singer Vesa-Matti Loiri. The new album will contain 10 tracks, but we'll have to wait until later in the year to get our grubby mitts on it!

If Celtic folk metal is your thing, then this from French band An Norvys is worth checking out. The band have released 'Jack the Giant-Killer' from their new EP, One and All. Based on the Cornish fairy tale of the same name, the song tells the story of a young boy who slays the the fearsome giant Cormoran.

Many of our featured bands have been busy filming new videos recently, it seems. Italian folk metallers Folkstone have been whetting the appetite for their forthcoming release Il Confine (due on March 16th, as reported back in December). New song 'Nebbie' (Mists) was first previewed on Italian website Spaziorock ahead of the release of the video, which can be seen below.

Heidevolk have marked the release of their new album Batavi with this video for 'Als De Dood Weer Naar Ons Lacht'. The album tells of the struggles between the Germanic Batavian tribe and the invading Romans, and the video continues this theme.

And finally, Russians Troll Bends Fir have released the video for 'Ave Celia!', from their latest release Brothers in Drinks


Monday, 27 February 2012


Over the last few years, Eluveitie have established a reputation (rightly, I should add) as one of the best folk metal acts on the scene. Their last album, Everything Remains (As It Never Was), represented probably the ultimate refinement of the sound they had been crafting over their previous three releases. Having reached this point, the band inadvertently found themselves in the unenviable position of having to pen a follow-up to that seminal record.

This being the case, it was probably an intelligent decision to change their course slightly for the release of Helvetios, by recording their first ever concept album. Concept albums are viewed in a different light to the conventional release, and when assessing this album I have judged it by a slightly different set of criteria than I would usually have done. Having said this, I found it difficult to buy into the concept of Helvetios as a continuous narrative. There is little sense of overall coherence and as such this album sounds like just another collection of songs, rather than a true concept album.

That said, there is plenty of excellent material here and anyone who has ever enjoyed Eluveitie's previous work will find plenty to keep them satisfied. Songs such as 'Havoc', with its twisting melodies, and 'The Siege', which features some absolutely stunning violin work, fit right in with the very best of the band's catalogue.

Though musically the album is quite similar to their previous efforts, it does seem that Eluveitie have tried to branch out slightly on Helvetios. Title track 'Helvetios' and 'Meet the Enemy' both tend to stick closer to the metal end of the spectrum, their folk elements uncharacteristically toned down, perhaps representing an effort from the band to demonstrate a wider appeal and cater to fans of standard melodic death metal.

Also, songs like 'Luxtor' and 'A Rose for Epona' are clearly more catchy and easily accessible. The cynic in me suggests that the latter of these two was intended as a radio-friendly single release, with its catchy, singable vocals, and though it is a decent and reasonably addictive commercial metal song, it's also the type of song that will grow stale with repeat listens. And, of course, that's without even mentioning its uncanny resemblance to Blood Stain Child's 'Metropolice'.

Some of the commercial elements aside, the highlight of the album for me is undoubtedly 'Meet the Enemy'. Preceded by the spine-chilling 'Scorched Earth' it is one of the only occasions on the album that truly evokes the visceral horror and chaos of the war that has inspired this album.

At this point I should admit that I have been quite harsh in my analysis of this album, because there really are plenty of brilliant moments here, and again a remarkably and consistently high standard throughout the album. If anything, this harsh judgement is a result of the high standards Eluveitie have set with their previous releases.

Though I don't feel Helvetios quite lives up to its billing as a concept, it's still an impressive effort and is undoubtedly one of the better albums I'll review this year. Moreover, it should see Eluveitie maintain their status as one of the top folk metal acts in the world. However, if you're new to the band, while you would undoubtedly find plenty on this album to satisfy you, I'd advise you turn to some of Eluveitie's earlier releases to get a truer picture of what this band is capable of.