Review Summary: Runic delivers a great album with plenty of heavy riffs and even more pleasing folk music. This album is strongly recommended for fans of Viking Metal.
I’m simply fascinated by Norse mythology and Viking history. There are few things that peak my interest like those things. Another interest of mine happens to be heavy metal. I always love finding new bands in the genre that offer great albums that often go unnoticed. After scouring the internet for months on end in the desperate attempt to come upon some great underground metal bands, I found many. One of the first bands to cross my path was the Viking metal band Runic. Their combination of melodic death metal and folk influences make them one of the coolest bands that I’ve come across in the past several months. This is their newest album and contains some incredibly melodic metal along with a nice touch most other bands just don’t have. Enter…
Liar Flags by Runic
Upon first listening to Liar Flags, one of the first few things I noticed was the heavy influence of more traditional folk instruments which really takes Runic to a new level of greatness. The album opens with “…When the Demons Ride”, which starts out with what sounds like old percussive instruments and acoustic guitar work that just makes me imagine of Viking settlements from over a thousand years ago. It’s got the perfect atmosphere for what the band is trying to convey.
Besides the overall appearance and atmosphere this album gives that I enjoy, it’s also the guitar parts that give Liar Flags that appeal. Runic is most definitely a melodic death metal band, so it seems obvious that the band will be utilizing their two guitarists. Liar Flags is filled with crunchy chugging riffs, as well as catchy melodic lines that keep the band from seeming so brutal. “…When the Demons Ride” is a great example of some cool guitar melodies. The added keyboard touches on top of that also make it very easy to listen to even if you’re not used to the extreme metal scene. Listen to the song “Last Days of Aghrapur, Part II – Lost Empire” and you’ll be introduced with pleasing synth work, followed by some heaviness, and then the outro returns to the pleasant folk melodies. It’s a really good combination.
But what of the rhythm section? The bass is barely audible on here, which leaves me to be a bit disappointed. I know that most melodic death metal bands don’t tend to use their bassist much, but it’s always a thorn in my side. I know there could be some great bass lines added here and there which could really pick the album up. The drumming carries the band along like it should, but never really does anything of notice. It’s not too noticeable because the melodic folk tunes usually are peaking your interest. Since this band is more metal than they are folk based, almost all of the vocals are screamed, except for a few parts here and there with female backing vocals, like in “To the Fallen Ones”. The vocals are always solid, although I do wish every once in a while that Runic would bust out some clean male vocals to make things a bit more varied. It’s nothing terrible, though. For screaming, it’s not bad.
In conclusion, fans of the folk metal genre should definitely be looking into getting this. It’s got the best of both worlds – the heaviness of the extreme metal genres and the pleasing (and often catchy) melodic lines of various keyboards and folk instruments to give this album such a unique touch. The bass and drums could stand to be brought out more, and the vocals aren’t exactly perfect, but this album is still well worth a metal fan’s time. It’s one of the few Viking metal albums I own, and it’s easily one of the best.