Gods and Sirens : an interview with Heri Joensen of Týr

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 The recent release of their seventh album shows that Týr is a band which continues to create dramatically enthralling confrontations bred from Faroese and Norwegian lore narratives merged with fiercely burning metal. Valkyrja is a strikingly riveting encounter cementing Týr as one of the most potent forerunners to folk and melodically aggressive metal. Fortunate and grateful to steal some of the free time of vocalist/guitarist Heri Joensen whilst the band is touring Europe with Finntroll, we get to the depths of their new album, Nordic folklore, songwriting and much more…

Hi Heri, good to meet you and thanks for talking with us.

My pleasure :-)

Before we get to the focus of the interview, your excellent new album Valkyrja, can you give us some background to the origins of Týr, the inspiration and emergence of the band?

We’re a heavy metal band from the Faeroes. We draw inspiration from Nordic folklore and mythology for our music and lyrics. We’ve been around since 1998, first album in 2001. Valkyrja is our seventh album. Even though we’re usually labelled pagan folk Viking metal, we don’t think we fit that category very well, since we have no ethnic instruments and no extreme vocals

As you mentioned you fuse Faroese folklore and sounds with predacious heavy metal, when did this idea and venture take seed in your thoughts and did you sculpt the approach of the band in the delivery of the music or was that as organic as the songwriting and music?

I had the idea sometime in the mid-nineties. The idea seemed very basic and came naturally, but the execution of it took a lot of adjusting and trials and errors. It took hard work to get to where we are today and we still work hard to keep the standards up and to constantly improve our songwriting and image.

Can you give us some insight to the traditional sounds and mythology/history of the Faroe Islands and musically how it is distinct to say Norwegian or Icelandic traditional sounds for us uninformed souls?

The official mythology is fairly uniform when it comes to the Nordic countries. Almost all of it comes from Iceland. Some parts come from Denmark and some from the Faeroes, but the great bulk of it was written down in Iceland 900 years ago. As for folklore, some myths have been preserved to varying degrees in the rural areas of all the Nordic countries up to recent times; stories about elves, dwarves and other mythological creatures. My grandmother for example told me that the elves disappeared when electric light was introduced to the Faeroes.

As for the music I guess, without knowing that the Faeroes have preserved the most original medieval ballads; although there are quite a few on mainland Scandinavia. Iceland has ironically not preserved the ballads very well, since it was made illegal to perform them there some 300 years ago. The typical Faeroese ballad is very heavy and staccato, whereas the Danish ballads have very beautiful and haunting melodies and flow very easily. Norwegian music is extremely lively and bouncy. It may sound from this that there’s great variation, but the difference I’m talking about here may be negligible to the foreign ear.

Is it an easy and fluid merger between heavy and traditional sounds or do you have to craft and sculpt it intensely to make it flow so seamlessly?

It is very easy to merge and it immediately gives us a very distinct sound, but the better you want it to flow the more you need to sculpt it, and that’s what we’ve been doing more and more recently. For example The Lay Of Our Love on Valkyrja is based on a Faeroese/Danish traditional melody, but it had some odd timing in it, and that doesn’t flow very seamlessly in modern straight-forward metal, so I stretched a phrase in the melody to avoid the odd time and I think the result is ok.

Is there a potent reception and appetite in your homeland for not only your music but metal In general?tyr2

We sell a fair amount of albums, as do some other hard rock and metal bands in the Faeroes. Also traditionally there’s a relatively large proportion of the people who like metal, ever since the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal.

And any unrest from traditionalists?

Yes, every now and then, but nothing serious. Mostly people are positive about what we’ve done.

As mentioned you have just released your seventh album Valkyrja, which seems to have a more power metal energy and attack to its invention, how do you see it and how would you say your music has evolve over the releases and especially over the past couple of albums, By the Light of the Northern Star and The Lay of Thrym?

We’ve deliberately gone for a more accessible sound, shorter and more straight forward songs. But we still want to keep our signature sound and not sound like we’ve sold out. As for Valkyrja, I think we’ve re-introduced some progressive elements and still kept it accessible.

There seems to be a less aggressive snarl to some of the songs on the album but that is equalised by a greater intensity and passion to their impact, would that be fair to say?

Yes, that may be. I think the music is more varied, and generally more up-tempo. If you think it has more intensity and passion I take your word for it.

Tell us about the concept of Valkyrja , historically and in its interpretation to men and women today.

The concept is based on the Valkyries from Nordic mythology. The protagonist of the story is a nameless Viking who leaves his woman and his homeland to go off to die in battle, in the hope that a Valkyrie will come for him and bring him to Fólkvangr, the realm of Freyja, goddess of sex among other things. Anyone who has been in a romantic relationship knows that there are ups and downs, and any straight guy knows that once you’ve set your aims for a woman there isn’t much you wouldn’t do to make your dreams come true. Those things are the underlying themes of the album.

What sparks your ideas and themes, one at times imagines it is triggered from tales and mythology passed down through generations of your personal family lines or is that fantasising? 

I first learned about Nordic mythology in school around age 11, and I’ve been fascinated with it ever since, so I can’t say it comes from direct family tradition. It’s more of a national tradition.

I believe the album took a year to come to completion from the writing seeds, is that generally the kind of time you spend on a release or was this an unexpected timescape?

We have released albums now with two year intervals, the last four albums I think, so the timescale was the same as usual. Now we’ve already started the next project and we hope to put more work into that than our previous works, and still release it on the same timescale.

Drummer Kári Streymoy left the band before the album was recorded and you brought in the stick master George Kollias. How did you link up with George?

Our manager set us up with George. They know each other from working together in the past.

What did he bring to Valkyrja which exploited your ideas and sounds to the full, and did he exceed and surprise your hopes and expectations?

He brought a completely new drum approach to Valkyrja. He tried out all sorts of things that we hadn’t thought of, and he definitely improved our sound and the flow of the songs.

Tyr-ValkyrjaHow does the songwriting lyrically and musically come to fruition within the band?

I’ve written most of the material in the past, but we’re trying to change that now, as for the music at least. I’ll probably remain the only lyrics author in the future, but we will try to involve more musical ideas from Terji and Gunnar. Terji wrote two songs for Valkyrja, and I may have added some harmonies. And a third song, Blood Of Heroes is one song I based on a riff by Terji. The title track is based on a riff by Gunnar that I arranged into the song that became the title track.

It is an open process embracing ideas with a democratic intent for the main?

I wouldn’t call it an open process. I guess I rule most of the process, at least when it comes to my songs. I’d like to get all parties involved, but it’s not been so easy in the past especially getting used to working over the internet, and not in a rehearsal room.

It is fair to say that not all aspects of folk metal, and maybe it is down to certain bands, in the past was certainly taken as seriously as it deserved, do you think that has changed over recent years?

I don’t like to think of music in terms of genre. What about folk metal could make it deserve being taken seriously? I find that way of thinking completely pointless. Music will be taken seriously on its own merits, and the least of all merits is what genre it is put in by the labels and the press.

Though it seemed ok for the likes of Slipknot and Mushroomhead to dress up, folk metal bands garbed in Viking and warrior attire was almost a joke to the media for a while. Did you face that kind of thought when first emerging and has that become a thing of the past now do you think?

For us it is a thing of the past, definitely. But I see some bands still do it. It’s an image, nothing more, nothing less. The music is still what it is. Imagine if you were blind, the music would still be the same, no matter what the musicians wear on stage. This image thing is all in our heads; still we allow it to interpret the music for us, or to determine whether or not to take it seriously.

As we hold this interview you are amidst a European tour with Finntroll, how is that going and what has the reception to tracks from Valkyrja live been like?

The tour is going well, at the moment we’re enjoying a day off in Strasbourg, France. The new songs have been received particularly well, better than any of our previous releases. Turnout for the shows has been very good too, and we’re very glad we got to be on this tour.

Thanks you again for sharing time to chat with us, any last thoughts before diving back into the tempest of touring?

You’re welcome. Please buy our new album, Valkyrja, and please come to our shows when we play somewhere near you. We’ll put on a great show for you and we’ll all have a good time, how’s that ;-)

Read the review of the Metal Blade Records released Valkyrja @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/tyr-valkyrja/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 14/10/2013

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Týr – Valkyrja

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The past decade has seen Faroe Islands metallers Týr grab and cage their own potent place at the fore of folk metal, their Faroese or Norwegian lore spawned creative narratives and traditional seeded sound an ever dramatically enthralling confrontation which has ignited the passions of a loyal growing legion of followers. Their new and seventh album Valkyrja continues the ever persuasive and riveting stature of their presence and their inventively bred form of Viking metal. It is a release which maybe at times struggles to emulate the full heights of previous Týr albums such as By the Light of the Northern Star and The Lay of Thrym, but equally very often it roars from new pinnacles set by the band with fires of imagination and quality burning fiercely. Overall Valkyrja is a pungently agreeable and strikingly riveting encounter, the notice that Týr is still a leading power of folk metal.

Their first release with Metal Blade Records, Valkyrja is a ‘concept album themed loosely around an anonymous Viking age warrior who leaves his woman and goes off to impress the Valkyrie on the battlefield so that she may bring him to Valhalla, or to Fólkvangr, the home of Freyja—the goddess associated with love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, sorcery, war, and death’. At the same time seemingly looking at how far men will go to impress women and their influence on these acts and ideas, the album took a year from writing to completion. Recorded with Jacob Hansen, the album also sees George Kollias (Cerebrum, The Circle of Zaphyan, Extremity Obsession, Nightfall, Nile…) providing the drums on the recording alongside vocalist/guitarist Heri Joensen, guitarist Terji Skibenæs, and bassist Gunnar H. Thomsen, his skills replacing Kári Streymoy who parted ways with TÝR after the band completed their US run on Pagan Fest.

The addition of the Greek stick master immediately has an impact with opener Blood of Heroes, his touch debatably less intensive and Ty'r - Valkyrjaaggressive than his predecessor but offering a more stylish blaze of rhythmic provocation and framework for songs. The first rapping of the ear amidst fire steeled grooves and melodic twisting is respectful but commanding as it casts a firm web for the ever impressive vocals of Joensen and the scintillating guitar imagination to carve their exceptional design within. The opener alone reports that the artistry and melodic ingenuity of the band is as rich and absorbing as ever whilst the energetic urgency and persuasion of the musical narrative is overwhelmingly insistent and tempting.

The following Mare of My Night, with its succubus like sexual seduction laying down an intensive and sonically hued adventure which seemingly has come under fire for its lyrical content by a few for some reason, dances with the imagination and passion through a shadow clad bewitchment which itself preys welcomingly whilst its successor Hel Hath No Fury takes little time in taking and holding onto best track status upon Valkyrja. As many of the songs there is a thrash predation to the track to provide a rapacious hunger and sinew within the infectious torrent of anthemic allurement from vocals, harmonies, and chorus underpinned by a deliciously blistering guitar ingenuity and rhythmic stroll. Irresistibly contagious and epically magnetic, the song is the band at its captivating best.

Both The Lay of Our Love and Nation continue the strong start even if within the shade of the previous triumph; the first of the pair a fetching ballad featuring a duet between and guest vocalist Liv Kristine from Leave’s Eyes and its successor a bullish charge with sinews flaring like the nostrils of a muscle driven stallion as it expels a sonically lit intensity erupting into scorching melodic flames. They are soon surpassed by Another Fallen Brother, a song with a thrash embrace which at times undeniably has a Metallica like breath and a littering of grooves and melodic contagion which employs the full range of senses and imagination through to emotions in its irrepressibly galvanic enterprise.

The ‘vintage’ Týr like call of Grindavi’san and the busy melodic weave of Fa’nar Burtur Brandaljo’d keeps ears and emotions riveted whilst between the two songs, Into the Sky regains the lofty heights of some of the previous songs which the surrounding ones let slip slightly. A flight through soaring vocals and sonic flames whilst a melody enriched tonic of excellence smoulders within and ignites the passions into a greedy hunger for the song’s invention, the track is a deeply satisfying treat. Lady of the Slain and the title track are equally dynamically tantalising and commanding of the passions, the first a broad call of full chested rhythmic and intensive sonic invention across yet another fascination of melodic and harmonic folk spawned rabidity whilst its partner is a slowly burning entrapment which builds with emotive expertise and musical grandeur into a spellbinding courting of the listener.

Completed by two cover songs, Iron Maiden’s Where Eagles Dare, and Pantera’s Cemetery Gate, the first simply a more than decent encounter and the second a more inspired and intriguing thrill, Valkyrja is a thoroughly engaging and riotously anthemic release which at its height leaves the majority of folk metal releases in its wake and at its lower levels stands as an inspiring equal to the best many others have to offer. Týr still roam the highest towers of their genre it is fair to say on the evidence of Valkyrja.

http://www.tyr.fo/

8/10

RingMaster 17/09/2013

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VallorcH – Neverfade

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    Neverfade is the debut album from seven strong Italian folk warriors VallorcH, a band which ignites the imagination and passions with their thrilling full-length landscape of muscular defiance and melodic festivities. It is not a release without a few issues but undoubtedly is one drenched in promise and most of all is a thoroughly enjoyable enterprise.

Formed in 2010 by guitarist Marco Munari, guitarist and provider of the vocal growls Matteo Patuelli, and drummer Massimo Benetazzo, VallorcH with the intent to merge death and traditional folk metal was soon expanded by the addition of Demetrio Rampin (bagpipes, whistles and accordion), Sara Tacchetto (vocals, bagpipes), Leonardo Dalla Via (scream and clean vocals, bass), and Francesco Salviato (violin) who before the album left the band to be replaced by Martina Mezzalira. May of last year saw the first release from the band in the well-received shape of the Stories of North EP consisting of five tracks, of which three are revisited on the album. That year also saw the band support the likes of Corvus Corax at Folk Festival in Piacenza swiftly followed by Fosch Fest in Bergamo where the septet opened for artists such as Trollfest, Negura Bunget, Kivimetsan Druidi and Folkstone. As September turned into view the band entered the studio to record Neverfade, with the opportunity to support Arkona on a date of their anniversary tour coming during the recording.

Released earlier this year by Moonlight Records, we always catch up eventually, Neverfade is a captivating encounter which leaves a book5mm_Pagina_01definite hunger and want for more from the band. It does not exactly set down new ventures and examples for folk metal but there is a vibrancy and adventure within the walls of the release and its songs that leave you seduced. It is not perfect by any means but offers plenty that more established and arguably eagerly received releases and artists have been lacking over the past couple of years. Researching for the review it is not hard to notice that a few are coming down hard on the band for coming from Italian and playing Celtic seeded music. As the album impresses it seems a truly trivial complaint, if something is skilled, openly accomplished, and created with passion, as well as sounding damn good as here, there really is no validity in that put down.

The album opens with the brief instrumental Night Fades…, an ok scene setting lead into the album and the excellent Voices Of North. Emerging from the sound of waves breaking upon shore, a guitar unveils a spiral of sonic temptation to heat up the air before being swiftly joined by eager rhythms, driving riffs, and melodic whispers. It is a steady canter straining at its leash to explode whilst being coaxed into greater intensity by the grizzled growls spraying malevolence across the air. It is the vocals of Tacchetto though which takes the lead, her tones instantly appealing if a little less controlled than they could be at times. With Patuelli stirring up the ear with his bear like animosity too it is a potent mix against the energetic melodic fire laying its narrative behind, accordion and whistles especially tantalising and the vocal harmonies later into the song simply delicious.

The very strong start is followed even more potently and impressively by Fialar which is led into view by the short burst of tempting revelry Join The Dance!, its seamless passing into the fourth track unnoticeable such their fluid kinship and union. A torrent of contagious rapacious riffing and rhythmic antagonism joins the party first, another dark and light merger of attention gripping craft, but soon shows restraint as Tacchetto with her finest moment on the album, begins her irresistible tale and delivery. The track switches musically and especially vocally throughout, the heavy scowls and nasty grunts breaking up the festival with the perfect shadows and intimidation. It is an outstanding and inventive song which steals the honours on the album with ease.

Both Endless Hunt and Sylvan Oath stand tall in their effort to match their predecessor, the first with a ravenous hunger to riffs and rhythms courted by entrancing melodic persuasion and all in the shadow of a compelling intensity whilst its successor is an inventive fury of heavy predacious menace. Neither manages to rival the previous song but both leave the appetite alive for more. The production of the second of the pair is not great either especially in regard to Tacchetto’s soprano soaring which is smothered into the background, as are other elements in the track.

The jovial and perky instrumental Störiele makes a refreshing aside for the album before Silence Oblivion steps forward to immediately impress with the excellent vocal union of Tacchetto and the clean tones of Dalla Via. It is a stunning mix which is not used enough on the album and hopefully will be explored more ahead, and as Patuelli riles the air also they make for an equally successful threesome before he dominates the prime attack from there on in, which does disappoints a little. The song is a commanding and provocative encounter which plays with brutality as much as it creates flames of melodic beauty. It is a great track which ebbs and flows a little in successful just missing out on classic status but when it works it is glorious.

Anguana and Leave A Whisper next make for satisfying companions, though both lack some of the spark and imagination to leave fires burning in the passions, whilst The End much like Silence Oblivion has as much to not get on with as it has to ignite ardour with. A marching rhythmic call to arms draws thoughts into its body with ease though the vocals of Tacchetto for once fail to hit the spot, her delivery at times flat and almost distant to the heart of the song. It is not a major problem though as musically the lure and hooks of the song, as well as its melodic toxin is virulent in its infectiousness and colourful persuasion, and the further it stomps into its length the track emerges as another of the bigger highlights on the album, especially its insidious hornet like stinging grooves.

With the more than decent …A New Light Rises completing the release, Neverfade is a richly pleasing album to revel and immerse within. Certainly not flawless as it shows that VallorcH has plenty of room to expand and explore within their creativity, the album is an exciting and appetising adventure to bring a fresh spark to folk metal and fans of the likes of Arkona, Finntroll, and Korpiklaani.

https://www.facebook.com/vallorch

8/10

RingMaster 06/09/2013

 

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Månegarm: Legions Of The North

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As compelling as an impending storm and as dramatically powerful, Legions Of The North from Swedish folk metallers Månegarm catches the breath and imagination as it takes the listener on a stirring ride of Viking/pagan adventure. There have been numerous folk and pagan metal bred releases in recent months to stir up and ignite the passions but few it has to be said as impressive and as fully absorbing as the Norrtälje hailing band’s seventh album.

Formed in 1995, Månegarm have constantly impressed and drawn eager acclaim for their mix of flavours within the cast folk metal, a sound explored constantly by their invention and the use of traditional instruments. Moving through a black metal seeded sound to a more contagious and organic folk imagination, the band has forged a potent place within the genre, albums like the 2003 Dödsfärd and its successor Vredens Tid two years later garnering impressive responses from fans and media. Their live performances have been the same at home and across Europe over the years, and whilst line-ups changes have meant numerous shifts within the band they have continued to build a greater stature within the genre and metal, live and through previous two albums Vargstenen and Nattväsen of 2006 and 2009 respectively. Signing with Napalm Records the line-up of vocalist/bassist Erik Grawsiö, guitarists Markus Andé and Jonas Almkvist, and drummer Jacob Hallegren have returned with what just might be their most immense and thrilling release yet, certainly it leads the pack of recent releases from their contemporaries.

From the desolate ambience of Arise, its brief scene setting raising echoes and spirits of ancient shadows and epic atmospheres, 486_Manegarmthe album leaps upon the awakened sense with its title track. It is an instant blizzard of scathing riffs, debilitating rhythms, and guttural vocal scowls with serpentine rapaciousness. Insatiably hungry and impossibly contagious, the track courts the passions despite its destructive intensity, especially through the clean group calls and cavernous depths suggested and paraded throughout. As the folk heart stakes its claim within the ferocious narrative, the song climbs to greater climes and persuasion leaving an exhausted but exhilarated victim in its wake.

The following Eternity Awaits explores the harsh and warm extremes further, at times a marauding predator and in others allowing melodic breeze to sooth the anger and corrosive energy. As with its predecessor, there is an intriguing and enticing evolution to the song which leaves assumptions redundant and captivation full whilst passions eagerly ride the muscle bound warrior cast confrontation. Like the first it is an instant highlight soon left in the shadow of the towering encounter that is Hordes of Hel. Seemingly the dawning of a new destructive force, sinews are stretched and flexed with persistent incitement whilst wrapping the dark core is a weave of infectious and incendiary melodic enterprise, its welcoming  presence a torch to meet the encroaching shadows. Vocally the track is outstanding, though that could apply to them all, the insidious growls and harmonic clean suasion a fluid and impressive union whilst musically the track fills every thought for an imposing yet triumphantly alluring temptation.

The likes of the heavy chested behemoth Tor Hjälpe, the riff torrent Sons of War, and the ravenously esurient Fallen unleash their own distinctive rigorous furies to feed and enflame brighter the passions. Each track as the album as a whole, uncages a violent rabidity upon the senses whilst employing a beauty and folk seeded elegant call which easily and skilfully and inspires thoughts and imagination into creating their own colourful and resourceful imagery.

Completed by another turbulent ferocity in the shape of the excellent Echoes From The Past and the closing emotive Raadh, a folk song acoustically carved and sung in Swedish by a wonderful fusion of female and male vocals, Legions Of The North provides one enthralling provocative journey which rewards the enduring of senses chewing savagery with tempering melodic seduction. Månegarm creates metal which is not just about assaulting with the ferocity and strength of passion driven warriors but providing a full and rounded sense of tradition and pagan jeopardy, the album is a thrilling canvas for all of this and more.

http://www.manegarmsweden.com/

8.5/10

RingMaster 28/06/2013

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Diabula Rasa – Ars Medioheavy

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The name may be new to most but such the impressive voice and mighty of their album Ars Medioheavy, it is hard to imagine Italian folk metallers Diabula Rasa will be a secret for much longer. The ten track release is stunning; a scintillating multi-flavoured expanse of traditional and modern essences honed into an encounter which lights up the senses and leaves an eagerly potent depth of pleasure in its creative wake. The album is the best the genre has offered over the past year and it will take something special to replace its status across the rest of 2013.

Formed in 2000 as Tabula Rasa by Luca Veroli (guitarist, vocalist, bagpipe, songwriter/producer), the Lugo based band played traditional folk music which took its ideas and heart from medieval and traditional music. Their debut album, the acoustically instrumental Techno Gothica was released in 2005 before the band two years later changed its name to Diabula Rasa and re-invented its sound. Still seeded by their medieval and traditional experimentation the sextet brought in stirring metal elements as they continued to look to revive ancient music through instruments and sound seeded in the time whilst blending it with the presence of more modern ones. 2010 saw their second and self-titled album containing versions of tracks from their debut re-invented with the new metal intent released. It set the band to the fore of folk metal in their homeland which Ars Medioheavy will surely replicate across the world given the opportunity. Out on Moonlight Records, it is an irresistible instigator to fun, adventure, and expertly crafted excellence, sounds with a nostalgic breath from before our time and the energy and aggression of today.

The album has the passions secured by the opening instrumental Ghirondo alone, the vocal sweeps of harmonies which open up a1458153037_2song and senses simply delicious whilst the compelling bass lure of Samantha Bevoni skirted by the teasing touch of keys from Daniela Taglioni fire up intrigue and temptation another clutch of degrees. With the beats and concussive percussion of Moreno Boscherini adding a firm and appealing frame for the stringed skills of Stefano Clo and Sonia Nardelli to invigorate the already persuasive call with their melodic flames, submission to its lure is complete and cemented beyond doubt with the dance of traditional sounds and instruments making the final seduction.

Tsanich takes its lead from the incredible introduction, feeding off of its stance to raise bars and temperature to new raging pinnacles of invention and craft. A stirring and eagerly pressing charge of riffs locked in the arms of atmospheric keys lay out a potent temptation before the striking female vocals of either Taglioni or Bevoni, both contributing vocals upon the album but without any indication whose voice is whose, stand astride the sounds with teasing adventure and expressive quality. The excellent grouchy growls of Veroli add their additional roar behind the lead call before both girls combine for another warm caress of harmonies. With a chorus as anthemic and infectious as the body of the track, and the Italian delivered lyrics easy to join in with at that moment, the song has a swagger and mischief that is irresistible and a poise that takes it elegantly through the ear to energise thoughts and emotions, let alone limbs and voice.

The track gives the following songs a tall order to replicate with its stunning presence but both Cataclism and Congaudentes make light work of the challenge, the first flexing formidable sinews around another sun of vocal glory and evolving into a blaze of evocative aural expression and descriptive melodic colour whilst its successor is a boisterous and captivating play of metallic endeavour and folk festivity. The male and female vocals are scintillating within the walls of earnest keys and around the carousel of seductive strings, acoustic and electric, whilst the latter sirenesque call of the female vocal swoons is heavenly in its touch and presence. It is another feast of imagination and skilled craft which only lights further lustful ardour.

Through the passion exploiting heights of Madre de Deus, with its opening celestial wash of strings and soaring vocals a virulent temptress and evolving rapacious metal seeded hunger, the ambrosial Astarte, and the mouthwatering In Taberna, the album stirs up every corner of the senses and appetite whilst the glorious Vermell is manna from the melodic gods complete with expressive shadows, emotive atmospheres, and ravishing vocal beauty sending extra tingles down the spine of passion.

Stepping out clad in medieval suasion the sensational Maledicantur takes the listener back to simpler but openly energetic and passionate times with again a chorus which is impossibly contagious and enchanting in its simplicity. It is an exhilarative escapade to leave the listener on a high for the closing Ahi Amour and its emotional spellbinding and smouldering red skied sunset. It is an engrossing conclusion to an ingenious triumph from Diabula Rasa. Ars Medioheavy is an album which will feed all your needs and desires in a folk metal release and then some, an offering all should and will embrace with greed.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/DIABULA-RASA/240832555948820

10/10

RingMaster 07/06/2013

 

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Artaius – Fifth Season

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Merging an enterprising and imaginative mix of metal, folk, progressive rock, and various other mischievous flavours, Fifth Season the debut album from Italian band Artaius is a release which dances with the ear and stokes up the passions to the recognition that this band is an awakening force. Across its absorbing length it would be fair to say that the sound is seeded and bred in recognisable organic beds but throughout Artaius involve intriguing and unexpected twists as well as invention to set them apart from most now and as an appetising prospect of the future.

Formed in early 2008, the sextet from Sassuolo have forged an impressive in their homeland with their previous a self-produced EP and live performances which has seen them leave strong impressions alongside the likes of Furor Gallico, Kalevala, and Diabula Rasa. There is a strong Celtic breath to the folk part of their sound whilst progressive whispers call loudly throughout the weave of melodic beauty and muscular energy with metal forged riffs and rhythms adding their rage and driving attack from an opposite extreme. The striking and inspiring vocals of Sara Cucciniello wrap around the senses with warmth and elegance, though equally she can sear and elevate notes with beauty and strength upon the compelling narrative, whilst the phlegm caked growls of guitarist Andrea La Torre bring textured shadows and malevolence to the welcoming landscapes to match the music in merging extremes. His vocals do take time to grow into and at times are a limit too far and detract from the otherwise rich persuasion but never to leave a song or moment distinctly unappealing.

The Moonlight Records released album opens up a brewing emotive ambience as Make the Iguana gentle enters into view. It Artaius-TheFithSeason500_zps1e0739f9initial beckoning an atmosphere mist where from within bold beats from Alessandro Ludwig Agati begin to build a frame for the mesmeric whistle tempting of Mia Spattini to wrap around, both soon joined by the resonating throat of the bass of Enrico Bertoni. Once Cucciniello unveils her vocal beauty the song lifts its head further to stretch melodic smiles and temptation to new heights, though it is when the track fully slips into its eager stride and the guitar of La Torre, as well as his growls add their predatory touch that the full union seduces emotions and limbs. Continually switches its gait from gentle and inviting to charged and infectious whilst the folk and progressive wash led by the excellent and fizzing key sounds of Giovanni Grandi hones all its aural colour into a compelling narrative, the song is an absorbing and deeply pleasing start immediately continued by the next treats.

Gates of Time has sinews stretching and fires blazing from the off, riffs prowling around the ear whilst the low growls of La Torre add their own distinct menace. A magnetic groove spears the challenge, its lure twisting into a niggling yet magnetic hook with the soaring vocals of Cucciniello looking down as they touch the roof of the song and leaving scorch marks on its surface. The track swoops back into the heavy energetic crawl again but then opens up a bloom of expressive melodic revelry which is quite irresistible and has feet shuffling intently along to its call. Continually mixing up its stance and adventure as it brings the harsh and beauty of the scenario into a descriptive sonic tale, the track leaves a smile on the passions before making way for the outstanding Over the Edge to ignite ardour.

This track takes a mere second to pick up the senses and thoughts and expose them to a romp of bold frivolity and passionate merriment, the violin of guest Lucio Stefani taking charge of the virile waltz whilst group shouts and enthusiasm powers alongside the again exceptional voice of Cucciniello. The track has full recruitment of limbs, heart, and lust within mere moments but ignites that to furnace proportions by stepping into a piano sculpted jazz fuelled aside of schizophrenic enterprise. Totally unexpected and wholly devoured with greed by the ear and beyond the song soon drives back into its core attack as if nothing happened, before again flirting with the bedlamic fascination for a more intensive devilment. The track is quite brilliant and you can only wish other songs had taken their bravery of adventure as far to turn the album into a real classic.

The progressive tempest of Horizon keeps things burning brightly though the vocals of La Torre arguably have one of their less inspiring moments compensated by the keys and dramatically confrontational riffs whilst both Stairway’s End and the hungry Prophecy offer more variation and satisfaction, even if without lighting the depth of fires as their predecessors. The second part of the album does slip from the plateau earlier founded but equally there is never a moment through the likes of La Vergine e il Lupo, Wind of Quest, and Wind of Wisdom that the temptation waivers and in songs like Wind of Revenge further blazes of drama coated magnificence erupt, the song complete with a virulently addictive groove and melodic toxicity an uncompromising yet rapacious slice of folk metal.

      Fifth Season is a strongly pleasing album which has moments of insatiable splendour leaving its recipient breathless. Artaius have delivered an impressive debut album which only makes you think the band will go on to greater and more startling things, and stake a claim as one of the more imaginative and exciting bands in the genre.

https://www.facebook.com/artaiusofficial

8.5/10

RingMaster 07/06/2013

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Fejd – Nagelfar

Fejd gruppbild nagelfar med logga

There is a charm about Nagelfar, the new and third album from Swedish folk metallers Fejd, which is impossible to ignore or not devour hungrily, an essence within release and band which is something a little different and more captivating than most equally gaited projects. Arguably the album does not offering anything jaw-droppingly different or new for the genre, and certainly for themselves, but has a heart and beauty which leaves the appetite for such sounds full and aroused passions eager.

Hailing from Lilla Edet/Trollhättan, Fejd was formed in 2001 from the union of folk music duo Rimmerfors and members of metal band Pathos. The band brings together the medieval folk music inspired side of the brothers Patrik (lead vocals, bouzouki, Swedish bagpipe, jew’s harp, hurdy-gurdie, cow antler, willow-pipe and recorder etc.) and Niklas Rimmerfors (vocals and moraharpa…an older version of the Hurdy-Gurdy) with the heavier breath and metallic rhythmic strengths of Lennart Specht (guitars and keyboard), Thomas Antonsson (bass), and Esko Salow (drums). It is a compelling fusion of authentic Nordic folk music, with its melodic language and sadness, with the muscular tones of heavy metal, a sound which has made an open mark through the previous releases of the band, Storm and Eifur, with its finest moment to date coming with Nagelfar.

The Napalm Records released album opens with a mesmeric vocal call alongside a gently resonating drone as Ulvsgäld emerges 481_Fejdfrom the intro with a strolling melodic and rhythmic dance. It is instantly captivating and has excited feet shuffling eagerly within the enthusiastic stomp whilst the excellent vocals with a slight rasp to their impressive and clean declaration, coax thoughts into creative play with their Swedish sung yet fully expressive lyrical persuasion. The sense of epic sceneries are evoked as the track continues to open its seductive arms, sinews rippling throughout its wholly engaging enterprise and invitation, adding to what is an impressive and invigorating start to the release.

The following Sigurd Ring continues in the same vein, the songs seemingly connected in the adventure of the intent and traditionally lit sounds. As the track plays, just as with its predecessor, the listener is taken into a busy vision of traditional and medieval times, lands and people vibrant in their lives with forceful energy enriching their experiences, much as the songs do for the senses. With the keys opening up progressive warmth mid-way through to move the track into another pasture of emotive incitement, there is again nothing less than full fascination as well as physical and emotional engagement with the excellent encounter.

The following title track starts with another melodic lure against a restrained but blistered wind before opening a confrontation of staring eye to eye vocals and striding sounds with more than a punk whisper to their intent. Into its full stride the evolving melodic air against strong metallic walls at times reminds of Finnish band Stam1na, its brewing folk grandeur wrapping around every aspect of the body as its rhythmic trigger stands as a constant commanding instigator to frame the again potent imagery seeded by the band.

The melodic romp of Den Skimrande leads the hand into another irresistible energetic polka of passion whilst Jordens Smycke, Fjärrskådaren, and Vindarnas Famn all offer their individual narratives to bring further imagination and invention to the album. Though both the first and the acoustically sculpted third of this trio of songs fail to ignite the same depth of thrills and passion as elsewhere on the album they are undeniably impressively crafted and make easy and pleasing companions. In between Fjärrskådaren is an intriguing slice of dramatic and inspiring creativity, its continually if gently evolving premise enriched with emotion and descriptive aural suggestion, a track bringing a metallic growl to a warm caress for a compelling constantly changing provocation of ideas and imagery.

The closing Häxfärd is an instrumental which leaves a lasting impression of the times and lands inspiring the release with charm lit energy. Though Nagelfar fails to find the heights and might of its first half in the closing stretch it is never less than compelling and pleasure spawning throughout with a fervour which is impossibly contagious. For folk metal with honest character and imaginative vibrancy, Fejd stands right to the fore.

http://www.fejd.se/

8.5/10

RingMaster 03/06/2013

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Eldkraft – Shaman

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    Shaman, the debut album from Swedish metallers Eldkraft, is not an album to make judgements over on just one listening. It is a release which unveils more depths which each venture into its heart whilst making a continually stronger persuasion too as understanding of its imagination becomes more apparent. Whether it will eventually light your fires and capture the imagination is not given but certainly the album finds a stronger welcome after being given time to state its declaration.

Shamen fluctuates between outstaying its welcome and thrilling the senses, when it hits pinnacles it is an impressive and enthralling beast but just as often even with that given time to make its case, it loses or evades the ability to spark anything other than passing acknowledgement of the skilled craft and atmospheric adventure at work. It walks the line between good and great but at times with equal ease provokes the upper limits of so-so. Released via Metal Blade Records it is still an encounter deserving of at least one in depth exploration of its epic/pagan metal seeded expanse though and individuals will find more to exalt upon than others for sure.

Formed in 2011 by J. Sandin (vocals/keys), H. Carlsson (guitar/bass), and N. Fjellström (drums), the three having reached the end of the line with previous projects and bands coming together to embark on a different creative path, Eldkraft soon fused a foundation of epic metal with influences from ancestral musical traditions of the North and spiritual guidance of its hermetic crafts. Their experimental invention bore demo recordings which came to the attention of Metal Blade who signed them up for their first album. Consisting of ten big powerful songs, Shamen is a striking confrontation, which despite offering a challenge across its presence is one you cannot ignore when face to face with its muscular and intensive atmospheric narrative.

The opening chant and call of Gammal Krigare engages and invites ear and thoughts immediately, the following fire borne guitar Eldkraft - Shamanaiding the sonic and epic sculpting as the song emerges from the heated atmosphere with firm rhythms and potent melodies flaming the skies. Into its more than decent stride the vocals of Sandin unleash their operatic teased growl and instantly pulls up the song from its appeal whilst becoming accustomed to his distinct tones is a priority. His voice is not one which personally we will claim to have won us over but like the release it finds its place in the scheme of things on the album and it has to be said at times drives the release to stronger heights.

From the satisfying start the following Undrets Tid raises things with stirring intensity and invention. The initial charge of distant vocal harmonies, rampaging rhythms from Fjellström, and acidic sonic temptation from the guitars makes a heady initiation into its potent enterprise and energy. The rhythmic persuasion of the track is riveting and ensures greater focus on an otherwise enjoyable but unnecessarily reserved journey through emotive and haunting scenery which is something again which can be said about next up Fate’s Door. Less urgent but no more restrained in its fevered passion and sonic maelstrom of intensity, the song continues the strong if underwhelming start, though throughout as with most songs there are elements at play which you urge to grab the reins and steer the song into a more dramatic and forceful horizon.

There is a raw and caustic wash to the guitar across the album which makes an appetising feel throughout especially in the Swedish sung songs where the natural guttural coaxing of the language find a union with the coarse touch of the guitar such as in Moder Liv Till Grav and Ursprungskällan. Both songs graze and enflame the senses with acidic guitar craft which is skilfully impressive whilst the vocals and heavy melodic elements paint the rhythmic canvas with rich sonic colours across their individual gaits. The second of the two is a slower emotive sinew clad embrace which sparks deeper interest if not passion, though both aspects are treated with their successor Patterns. From an acoustic invitation which already has infectiousness to it lacking anywhere before, the song is a vibrant mix of incendiary guitar imagination and ear teasing beats driven by a return to English spoken lyrical expression and equally decretive vocals. With a slight blackened breath to its folk carved might it is a scintillating endeavour with strings and keys adding  another exhausting and thoroughly pleasing wash of epic grandeur.

Once the black metal coated Gränslös Gräns leaves its slow crawling intensity over the listener the album brings out its greatest moment in the outstanding shape of Grey Man. With bruising riffs from bassist Carlsson opening up the intrigue, arguably the first time we truly hear and feel his presence normally sheltered in the brawling intensity crowding the ear, the song through imaginative adventure and thrillingly structured invention creates a tale of invigorating and stimulating colour. It is an exceptional song where everything connects with craft and clarity to ignite a fire inside for its originality. Equally it blatantly shows up what some of the other songs lack too such as the closing pair of Dödens Famn and Rimthurs which feel a little uninspired in the wake of the song, though the haunting meditative chanting of the final track does trigger potent visions.

Shamen is a very decent album but fails to make the impression and light the passions which at times it suggests it was capable of. Well worth a journey through though if only for the triumph of a handful of its songs.

https://www.facebook.com/Eldkraftband

7/10

RingMaster 28/05/2013

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Wandersword – Waiting For War

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Making its steps into the wider world, Waiting For War the debut album from Russian metallers Wandersword is a richly enjoyable firing up of the senses and passions. Released  in their native land last year, the album now gets a wider unveiling via Blasphemour Records and it is one of those releases which if it had remained hidden it would have been a crime. As with most albums there is room for growth and expansion of the already strong promise openly shown upon the nine track rampage of Viking, folk, and melodic extreme metal, but it is still a deeply satisfying and invigorating encounter which is destined to find plenty of devouring appetites.

The quartet of Wandersword riles up and recruits the emotions and passions with tracks which are musically impressively accomplished as well as imaginative and equally aggressive with the energy to bring blood and energy to the boil. With all songs sung in Russian, the album is a rousing and enthralling rampage which signs up the listener into its epically toned charge with masterful ease, the opening title track the blatant instigator and lead into the dramatic and stirring encounter to follow. The dawning ambience and narrative of the brief intro is the stuff of warriors and brewing civilisations, a peace and calm stalked by emerging grandeur of emotive and quarrelsome atmospheres. It is an evocative and descriptive piece, and though many bands now employ this type of beginning to releases, Wandersword make it work more potently than most.

First full song The Valiant Viking immediately is prowling and stirring up the senses, the heavy riffs, punchy rhythms, and sonic WaitingForWarpainting of the guitar an intriguing and beckoning invitation hard to refuse. The vocals of bassist Andrey Anikin are harsh and caustic to the ear, his tones not the easiest to engage with at first but a strong and effective antagonism to the melodic wash permeating the song. Muscular and direct in its intent, the track is a pleasing start if not quite the triumph the intro was suggesting, but undoubtedly is a welcome introduction with moments of irresistible temptation, like the galloping inspiring climatic flourish with its Cossack like energy and voice.

Scarlet Sunset opens on a peaceful warm scenic impression, guitar and warbling whispers bewitching the ear for the thunderous explosion of riotous rhythms and equally antagonistic riffs, both extremes merging with skilled enterprise as the track snarls and invades the senses. Again the vocals bring a moment of insecurity towards the track but into its stride the album soon proves they are not an issue, just a growling confrontation to learn to find a union with.

The release hits its first lingering highest plateau with Strange Ships’ Trail, the album getting stronger and more impressive the further into its battle you go. From the first note the song has a ravenous energy and anthemic hunger which drives and steers the passions with merciless strength and compelling passion. The rhythms of drummer Alexey Krasnov find their most punishing sinews whilst the bass of Anikin finds an impacting growl and predatory snarl which is contagiously addictive, and with the guitars of Alexander Manukhin and Albert Osmilovskiy as inventive and ideally adventurous as they are raptorial, the combination is an immense capture of the imagination and passions.

Next up Masters Of The World continues the elevated plateau, again an evocative and gentle warm welcome shaping its place in the ear before stretching its flanks into an intensive intimidation attached to mesmeric and elegant melodic beauty, all veined by rolling rhythms which chain and spark up the instinctive pleasures inside. Enflaming further the craving for what is on offer, the track steps aside for the outstanding and best track of the album Peaceful Guard to unleash its irresistible hex and dance. With the keys and orchestral pull of the song bringing a siren like captivation to the fore, the track expands upon it with scything riffs and rumbling rhythms whilst the melodies cascade from the skies of the song with magnetic radiance. It is a dazzling track with the guitars painting upon the fascinating muscular canvas, a descriptive inspiration and the keys simply a sense of joy and eagerness to the battle of the heart of the track.

Both 40 Warriors and Northern Gates rage like thunder across the ear with strikes of melodic and ingenious flames spearing their excellent fields whilst the closing cover of Russia, a track originally from a band called Purgen, is one more piece of unreserved pleasure to eagerly consume. Waiting For War is a tremendous album and one sure to light up the passions of a great many with its re-release. It is a battle cry from Wandersword which could grace any field of battle and inspire greater determination.

https://www.facebook.com/Wanderswordband

8.5/10

RingMaster 18/04/2013

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Russkaja – Energia!

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    Sounding like the bastard offspring of the Austrian Strauss Brothers with a bent for insatiable adrenaline fuelled folk metal and exhausting jazz, Russkaja is a dream or delicious nightmare for those with the wildest adventure in their musical hearts. Fusing and brewing up a storm of crazed polka beats, bedlamic punk rock energy, and a multitude of other instinctive essences from a tempest of styles and sonic cultures, their sound is as distinctive as it is wonderfully challenging. Self-penned as Russian Turbo Polka Metal, Russkaja create music which is a jaw dropping joy and certainly across the fun of new album Energia! ignites thoughts of the likes of Gogol Bordello, P&H, and Kontrust within a unique and wholly addictive individual stance.

Formed by Georgij A. Makazaria (ex-Stahlhammer), the band consists of a group of Russian, Austrian, and Ukrainian musicians. Though begun in Vienna the band has a certain Russian flavour to their near manic creativity, an imagination with a tongue firmly entrenched in its cheek but dripping with enterprise, pure invention, and irresistible anthemic lunacy. Since 2006 the band has played more than 300 concerts across Europe and found major success in their ‘adopted countries’ of Austria and Germany. Four impressive appearances at Wacken Open Air has lit up attention and a growing fever for their sound with shows at Chiemsee Reggae Festival, Nova Rock, and numerous World music and Jazz festivals furthering their brewing presence, thirty Festival events occurring across Europe last year alone. Third album Energia! feels like a trigger to major things for the band as it teases the senses during its irrepressible encounter but then we at The RR are suckers for aural mischief and meddlesome ingeniousness.

With the lyrics predominantly in Russian but with plenty of other national flavouring included throughout, the songs are said to be a475_Russkaja postmodern version of Russian folklore; all you need to know is that they make up another thrilling thread to a weave of sensational limb commanding and passion firing brilliance, starting with the title track. The song takes the length of one mere breath to scoop up the passions in a dance of teasing guitar and the bear like vocals of Makazaria. Into its stride the song reaps a ska/reggae swagger to its strolling stride with the horns adding a gentle flame of heat to the brewing urgency of the now romp approaching gait. The sparks of brass instantly bring a grin and warmth to the heart, the trumpet of Rainer Gutternigg and potete (a unique hybrid of trumpet and trombone) of H-G. Gutternigg teasing and guiding to the head bobbing strokes from  the guitar of Engel Mayr.  Firing up the gypsy inside us all, the song is instantly one of the pinnacles of the album though closely challenged by each subsequent riot of sound and dance.

The following Barada and Radost Moja continue the flush of excitement, the first with a slower walk within sun soaked rays of smouldering brass and sensitive guitar caresses though you sense a wickedness just waiting to free itself throughout. Like a muscular Bad Manners, honestly, the track sways and lights the air with compulsive temptation whilst its successor leaps in like a court jester, a kaleidoscope of aural colours primed to tease and persuade the most potent ardour. Featuring Wladimir Kaminer and Yuriy Gurzhy, the song is a delicious romp of melodic rascality, a delicious devilment of toe tapping merriment with street corner shadows to pounce within the sinewy tones of the chorus. With the drums of Mario Stübler framing all, the firm rim of the song breaks into a sizzling waltz of seductive melodic sunshine before regaining its hold for another muscular climax, and completion of one more major highlight within Energia!, one of so many.

Soaked in diversity as much as crafty imagination, the likes of the brawling punk lined Autodrom with its schizo breath, Violina Mia with the violin of Ulrike Müllner placing its emotive kisses on the ear, and Surrealnaja with the bass of Dimitro Miller finding its throatiest presence within the sweltering whimsy of the polka embrace, all reap distinct and individual fields of invention and musical textures.

The album holds back two more of its greatest moments for the latter end of the release, firstly with the thrash/grind metal coated Dikije Deti. Of course it is not long before the track is flaunting its aural knavery with siren like melodic inducement but punctuates it with explosions of metallic ferocity which seamlessly erupts from the surrounding energetic folk parade. Tanzi Tanzi is another punk n roll bruising veined with unhinged melodic revelry and one more ardour causing triumph.

With only the closer Sorry unable to keep the fires which raged from the opener continuing to burn as furiously, though it is an impressively sculpted piece of emotive adventure, the Napalm Records released Energia! is a magnificent tempest of intoxicating joy. It might not be for everyone but certainly any fans of folk metal and psyched melodic invention will be wetting themselves in delirium for what Russkaja conjure.

www.facebook.com/russkajaofficial

10/10

RingMaster 10/04/2013

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