The genre of Metal is often at its best when the bands that play it are willing to cross the lines of each sub-genre, grabbing the best elements from each respective sound. If a band is willing to do that, and then follow through with it by crafting an album which is able to utilize the powers of each specific element, then that is the band which will stand out in a sea of other, more un-motivated bands. This is true because each variety of Metal has its own unique attributes which, when combined with others, can create something which nobody has heard before. Folk Metal is no exception to this, often taking the beauty and grandeur of Folk music, fusing it with the speed and brutality of Metal, and then each band adding their own respective flair and individuality from there. It is in this willingness to adapt to and respect each genre of music that Metal like this shines.
With the typical epic atmosphere of Folk Metal, the harsh brutality of Black Metal, the crushing guitars of Doom Metal, and countless other more minute details from other forms of music that makes Norwegian Folk Metal band Asmegin stand apart from the rest. It’s not quite Ensiferum, it’s not quite Mirrorthrone, it’s not quite Wintersun, it’s not quite Moonsorrow, and it’s not quite Ulver. It’s like a mix of all five bands, something which is quite difficult to explain but also something which becomes instantly evident as you listen to the first track “Af Helvegum”. The use of chanting, traditional Norse instruments, keyboards, Black Metal screeches, pounding double bass, and some highly melodic guitar leads creates a really awesome fusion of Norwegian Black Metal and Norwegian Folk music, quite an interesting combination which works out great in practice. While it’s not brilliant, or even coherent, at all points during it’s runtime, Hin Vordende Sod & So
is a really pleasant surprise and a really huge breath of fresh air, especially if someone hasn’t been expanding their horizons to music which isn’t completely Metal-oriented.
I’ll begin here with probably the most prominent sound on the entire album, the heavy Folk influences. The album is written completely in Norwegian or Old Norse, adding to the authenticity and seriousness which Asmegin was trying to put down with this album. Right off the bat, you’ll notice the obviously Folk influenced chanting and clean vocals. The fact that, like I mentioned before, the album was written entirely in Norwegian, makes the clean vocals much more epic and soothing, a great change from the heavier and darker aspects of this album. Strangely enough, the singer reminds of a Norwegian variant of the vocalist from Into Eternity on their album Buried In Oblivion
. If you have heard the singing on that album, you have a rough idea of what it sounds like here. These clean vocals are used quite extensively in the album, often delivering more emotion and atmosphere than the lyrics can deliver. Take the song “Blodhevn”, which begins with a somber violin playing alone, before a piano slowly flows in underneath. Quite a beautiful into to a song, and a great way to get the listener prepared as the electric guitars and drums sweep in to play. Toward the end of the song, those clean vocals simply make you smile, driving the song toward it’s close, making a simply astonishing finish which will leave you nothing short of breathless. Along with the vocals, the use of violins, classical piano, horns, and all sorts of authentic Folk instruments simply drives in the fact that this album was produced with a strong Folk atmosphere throughout, and that Asmegin wasn’t trying to just sort of add it in as an afterthought. They didn’t take a Metal album and add folk touches, they took a Folk album and added Metal touches, something which really shows.
As for the Metal aspect of this album, it certainly isn’t absent from the songs. More often than not, the electric guitars are right up front taking the album to melody after melody of wonderful riffs, sometimes blending them in with the keyboards or any other instrument which is playing behind it. The drums continue with this, often being absolutely ferocious and laying down some really thundering double bass or a great fill. The icing on the cake, though, is the Black Metal vocals which are introduced during most of the songs. They really have a certain harshness to them which you don’t hear that often when listening to an album so melody-oriented as this. Not to say the harsh vocals are all high-pitched screeches, sometimes there are some really awesome and brutal Death Metal growls which make the mood much more depressing and sinister.
The album isn’t perfect, however. More than once during the album, you’ll hear something which will make you do one of two things. Either you’ll become confused and wonder what just happened, or you will simply crack up laughing. It’s not that the music actually becomes bad, it’s that Asmegin tries to take their atmospheric touches a bit too far, often resulting in something completely incoherent or out of place. The two biggest complaints are during the songs “Til Rondefolkets Herskab” and “Efterbyrden”. During “Til Rondefolkets Herskab”, right in the middle of the song, a random female vocalist suddenly begins to sing wildly, completely catching the listener off guard. It’s quite an awkward situation. Another very strange touch is during the beginning and end of “Efterbyrden”, a baby begins crying. I don’t know about any of you, but I really do not want to hear a baby crying when I’m trying to listen to music. Maybe it’s something to do with the story of the song, maybe not, but it is unnecessary either way.
Despite some awkward situations in the album, and maybe a tad bit of repetitiveness, Asmegin score a really well-crafted album with Hin Vordende Sod & So
. They manage to include a lot of awesome Folk elements without sacrificing the heaviness of the Metal elements they include in there. If you love bands like Ensiferum, Wintersun, Summoning, or any other band which includes a touch of Folk in their music, it’s worth taking a look at Hin Vordende Sod & So
. There really are no bad tracks on this album, and it’s a very easy listen to go through in one sitting. For a way to calm yourself down and relax while still listening to some ripping Metal, you simply cannot go wrong with Asmegin.
+ Awesome Folk Elements
+ Great Variety
+ Good Drumming
+ Melodic As Hell
+ Great Vocals
- Some Awkward Moments
- Can Get A Bit Repetitive