Nebelhorn – Urgewalt

Urgewalt is the third album from Nebelhorn but for us the first time we have come across the one man project from Germany. This may be the situation for a great many, fans and bands alike, as it gets harder for independent projects to encroach upon broader attention though in this case but such the accomplished and potent exploits of the release, Nebelhorn may have broken those restraints.

Nebelhorn is the creation of multi-instrumentalist Wieland; an idea emerging in 2002. Fusing black and Viking metal in sound and atmosphere, he has subsequently released two albums in Gen Helwegs Grund (2005) and Fiordland Sagas (2007) since making his debut with the Utgard EP in2004. Released on his own Skoll Records, every seed and touch of Urgewalt is Wieland alone and a striking piece of writing, imagination, and sonic adventure it proved to be.

The opening instrumental welcome of the excellent Auf Bifrösts Rücken rises up with drama and suggestion, its orchestral walls cinematic in their intimation as rhythms build solid foundations to the epic feel of the surroundings. Yet there is a melodic intimacy which equally tempts the imagination before the album’s title track with the same kind of majesty emerges. Swiftly dark tides and imposing rumblings surge as the track erupts into a rousing incitement of threat and seduction. Wieland’s vocals, raw and melodic, alone spark keen attention, their lure matched by the tidal currents and drama of the sounds. Singing in his home language the tale of the song and its companions evaded recognition but there was no escaping the Nordic and dramatic clues to the mercurial and ever darkening escapade.

As the first, the track was rich captivation with its tempestuous nature sparking the dark storm of next up Ägirs Zorn. Prowling the senses from its first breath, the track is a warlike trespass, barbarian-esque in its threat with dirtier hues in its touch though they are tempered by the siren like sighs of keys. If not quite matching the potency of its predecessors, the song is relentlessly compelling as too the predatory assault of Wilde Jagd. Its initial battlefield hunts down ears and imagination, following it up with a ravenous onslaught of sound and sonic animosity. As with all tracks though, there is a grace which courts the despoiling, keys at its heart.

Wieland’s instrumental prowess is an open attraction throughout the album especially through the inventive antics of the guitar and his imagination a rich draw as emphasized by the following Muspellheim. An invasion of sound and dark emotions, the track is simultaneously tempting and distressing, keys haunting its bedlam as vocals steer the rapacious insurgency.

A calmer air embraces Auf neue Lande, it’s exploring of new land and hope breeding melodic endeavour in the wake of the previous track’s ruinous intent. It was another which took longer to spark the appetite compared to those before yet with its melodic touch and emotive canvas, the song only firmly enticed while Funkenflug similarly gripped attention without inflaming the same intensity of reaction. Yet it too cast a wealth of craft and adventure so easy to be caught up in.

The closing Freyhall is another instrumental magnet for ears and imagination; both devouring its touch and suggestion as various flavours collude with its blackened Viking breath.  A final quest for enjoyment and thoughts to feed upon, it is a fine close to an impressive release which enticed and pleasured straight away and only further blossomed with time. There are no guarantees of success and recognition, even awareness, in an overcrowded musical market place but if there is one release you might place a bet on finding that success, Urgewalt is it.

Urgewalt is available now.

https://www.facebook.com/Nebelhorn.Vikingmetal/

Pete RingMaster 19/06/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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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

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Frost Giant: When Myth and History Merged into Mystery

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Though it has been out a few months digitally and now physically, When Myth and History Merged into Mystery the debut EP from Pennsylvanian rock band Frost Giant has only just surged to our attention and thank goodness it has as to miss something this good would have been a travesty. Forging a sound from a merger of Viking metal and nineties hardcore, yes you read that right, the release is simply sensational. It is wholly unique and works on every level for an encounter which is engaging and thrilling. It just ignites the heart and recruits the senses into a full and energetic compliance to its imaginative and insatiable storm.

Formed by vocalist/guitarist Matti Frost in late 2005, Frost Giant has been a solo and at times a full band project merging European folk metal with melodic hardcore and So-Cal infused punk rock.  It is a stunning sound which can be best described as Tyr and Korpiklaani in a drinking contest riot with Biohazard and Agnostic Front whilst the melodic cheers of Billy Talent and Lagwagon egg them on. It is an exciting and stirring mix which offers great diversity and originality and the EP which basks in it, easily one of the best releases this year.

Released through Blasphemour Records, the release finds Frost joined by guitarists Jonathan Smith and Scott Breustedt, bassist Jason Esbensen, and Rich Berends on drums, and consists of five slabs of muscular delight which take no time in lighting up the ear and beyond. First to barge through to the senses is My Life for Yours, a thumping weight of stretching sinews, barracking rhythms, and heated melodic grandeur. It is an instant lure for the passions, its classic rock groove veining intense energy and a predatory urgency hungry for a kill. The vocals are a contagious mix of clean and growling might with the often joint tones of Frost and Smith anthemic and harmonically glorious. The unrelenting charge of the song drops midway to bring an expansive wrap of intense and tempestuous atmosphere scorched with an epic guitar solo fire. Ending in the same drinking song style as it started and recalling the cold wastelands and warrior honour, the track is a titanic start to the release and equalled continually.

A Common Son opens with outstanding vocal harmonies before sending weaves of sonic invention and gentle melodic coaxing through the ear. It is a trick though, a wicked aural sleight of hand as soon the band explodes from another teasing melodic stroke into a brawling confrontation of hardcore vocals and surging flesh lashing power metal type riffs. That is not the end of it though as Frost Giant insert masterful and inciting melodic vocals and sirenesque sonic charms across the raging sky of the song. Not as infectious as the first it is still an impossible to resist bruising which leaves one breathless and wanting so much more.

The magnetic stirring rhythms of Heathen’s Lament are just one seductive lure of the song, its rampant and inventive presence a magnet for heart and mind. The consistent quality of the guitars with their barbed melodicism and mischievous manipulations hold the passions tight whilst being buffeted by raucous basslines and beats, the combination an irresistible taunt. Imagine Bad Religion and Ensiferum linking up and you get a whisper of the genius going on within song and EP.

The release is completed by the punk rock tempest Not While I Draw Breath and a cover of the Adele song Someone Like You. The first of the pair again is an insatiable pleasure which flays the senses whilst swamping them with rich rewards. It is like being serenaded whilst being dragged into the bedlam of a ravenous maelstrom, the harmonies and melodic enterprise soothing and offering safety against the scurrilous intensity and rampant hungry sounds. The closing track did bring a slight groan when reading the track list, a moan which turned into awe within mere seconds. The band turn the song into a skate punk treat with fiery muscles and snarling energies pulling essences from the likes of Danzig and especially Volbeat into the mix. It is an excellent end to a staggering release, simple as.

If you want something new and innovative out of your folk metal or melodic hardcore than Frost Giant and the When Myth and History Merged into Mystery EP is a must investigation which will leave you drooling at the mouth. This is one release no one should miss.

https://www.facebook.com/frostgiantkills

RingMaster 18/12/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The Horde – Thy Blackened Kingdom

With an EP back in 2008 that made people take a keen interest in them, Illinois based band The Horde return with their debut album Thy Blackened Kingdom, a release containing epics tales of Viking legends, battles, and demons, all delivered in a constant barrage of thrash, speed metal with more than a splash of punk.

Having formed in 2006 and really only well known in their surrounding home area, their debut EP From Empire to Ashes took them to the attention amongst others of Stormspell Records, the result the signing with and the recording of Thy Blackened Kingdom and its triumphant recent release. Consisting of ten tracks of chest beating and sword swinging ferocity the album hits hard, fast, and with all disregard for the welfare of its listeners.

The album has a definite old school feeling across its battlefield partly achieved by, as commented by guitarist Tim Matthews “Recording in analogue helped get that old school feeling without losing any of the sonic power that is held in high regard in today’s extreme metal scene.” The aim was certainly successful but the release does not feel dated nor not earn its place in the modern folk/Viking/metal swarm of bands laying waste before them. As one listens there are numerous influences and references that spring to mind from early Venom and Celtic Frost to Turisas and the punk attack of the likes of Kvelertak. There are moments where bands like Motorhead, Maiden and Tyr raise their horns and at one point within ‘Hell Beast Of The Pale Frost’ a Metallica type itch also broke out.  
   From the moment ‘Death Foretold’ raises its muscled riffs and power, the album’s force and intent is set. A strong mix of old and new sounds the song is a satisfyingly enthused attack which barely breaks a sweat or crosses into new territories, though when it brings in a solo that is as discordant as it is fresh the track lifts to new heights. An increase in intensity and joy comes when ‘Thy Blackened Reign’ takes over. Direct and simple in sound and lyrical content, as well as in delivery it is a battle cry to inspire fear in those before it. The track’s forcefulness and simplicity works well with its punk aggression as guitars, bass and drums rampage in the ear.

The track also confirms the biggest flaw on the album that the opener suggested. The drums are throughout the release very poor, not in skill as technically James is intent on doing as much skilful harm as the music needs and gives scope for. It is their sound that is so disappointing, tinny and weakly metallic one can almost hear his mother asking for her pots and pans back for supper. Though not a perfect album this is the biggest problem with it and quite sad as it detracts from the drummer’s obvious ability. Thankfully it does not ruin the album to a majorly damaging degree as the best track and most others show.

Odin’s Blood’ is immense, a rampant anthemic declaration with resourceful guitars, a tribal bassline, group chants, and all the addictive juices you could want in a song to stir up the senses. The obvious leader amongst the tracks though two other tracks do closely rival, firstly ‘War God’ with a bass thump that was spawned in hell and a chugging riff that stomps like a thousand Viking boots over the senses, slower paced than ‘Odin’s Blood’ it has equal intensity and overwhelming power, but focused in a more singular and epic attack. The other ‘Vengeance for a King’, is a violent revengeful primal onslaught with incessant inciting riffs that devour the ears eagerly and a pulsating guitar groove that balances neatly with the emotive sonic solos strikes.

Thy Blackened Kingdom is worth your attention for these three alone but the consistency of the rest of the release makes it a very satisfying proposition. Though slightly meagre on outright originality it certainly brings more energy and pulse pumping eagerness to satiate a full blood lust need. The Horde is ready to go to war and with Thy Blackened Kingdom they have a sturdy and appealing weapon.

RingMaster 14/09/2011

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