Manegarm
Vargstenen


4.5
superb

Review

by Adam USER (4 Reviews)
May 18th, 2008 | 15 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Encompassing all that is Scandinavian folk music and Viking metal, Manegarm anchors their place in the annals of Scandinavian metal history with this outstanding addition to their already monumental discography.

Perhaps the best-kept secret of the Swedish metal scene, Manegarm has been chasing the moon since 1995, improving their sound every step of the way. With their raw folk-tinged black metal beginnings in Nordstjarnans Tidsalder to the pursuit of a heavier traditional, Swedish folk sound with Dodsfard, Vredens Tid, and now Vargstenen, Manegarm gradually replaced blast beats, shrieking, loose drumming and guitar playing, and lethargic, mediocre folk sounds with more cohesive combinations of clean chanting, growling, tighter, more technical playing, and more focused, authentic-sounding folk melodies. Manegarm’s consistency in the improvement and refinement of their sound has resulted in their finest release yet: Vargstenen.

If at all possible, Manegarm puts even more emphasis on the folk sound in this album. This is most likely attributed to their release of Urminnes Havd - The Forest Sessions, a purely traditional Swedish folk EP, in 2006. Instead of having the violins merely backing a riff or a solo, Vargstenen features full violin solos and even points at which the guitars seem to be backing the violin. In fact, one of the highlights of the album is the insanely fast and melodic violin solo in “I Underjorden”.

In addition to fitting with the guitars, the violins compliment the vocals, as well. Specifically in “Nio Dagar, Nio Natter”, the violin melodies over Grawsio’s vocals are phenomenal. But songs such as “Visioner Pa Isen” where the violins bring every single portion of the song together and fit so well with each instrument, from their harmonic fiddling over the power-driven main riffs to the soft, tranquil background they create during the acoustic interlude, are what epitomize the folk metal sound.

As in all Manegarm releases, the lyrics are entirely in Swedish, further contributing to an authentic folk metal feel. The concept of Vargstenen is similar to that of Vredens Tid and Dodsfard in that it focuses more on the folklore aspect of Scandinavian culture. This is a refreshing transition from the subjects that typically dominate the Folk/Viking metal genre such as Norse mythology and Viking history. This is one of the main contributing factors that sets Manegarm apart from most other bands of the genre.

Aside from the noticeable use of female vocals in a few tracks reminiscent of those on Urminnes Havd, there isn’t much on Vargstenen that sets it apart from their three previous releases. There is, however, an observable reduction of harsh vocals and an increase in clean vocals. Whether or not the increase in clean vocals is supposed to compliment the increase in the use of the violin is uncertain. This is where my only complaint lies with Vargstenen. Where harsh vocals should have been sung over violin-backed riffs, such as in “Vedergallningens Tid”, clean vocals were used. As a result, the vocals are not always appropriate at certain moments, sometimes hurting what were, otherwise, perfect songs.

Although the guitars occasionally take a backseat to the violins, playing a rhythm instead of a melody, they do have their stand out moments. Songs like “En Fallen Fader” and “Visioner Pa Isen”, where the riffs drive the intense parts of the songs and offset the serene acoustic, violin, and vocal passages are what contribute so well to the balance within the songs. The guitars also prevent some songs from becoming completely dominated by the folk instruments, which is something that other bands (Korpiklaani) seem unable to accomplish.

Like in all folk metal albums, the drums are essential in Vargstenen. The beat of a drum, more than anything, seems to establish some type of brief, primal connection with the past. This certainly doesn’t change in folk metal where the drum beats can make or break the authenticity of any folk interlude. In both the folk and the metal tracks, the drums compliment the violins well in both environments. On occasion, blast beats are used to favor the faster moments of the album, as in “Us Sjalslig Dod”. The drums further contribute to the overall sense of balance by interjecting where one component seems to be controlling a particular section.

Vargstenen is a can’t-miss album, especially for those fans of Folk/Viking metal. As reiterated throughout the review, balance and authenticity are the most important qualities of this album as they should be for any folk metal release. While still maintaining a wholly indigenous folk sound, Vargstenen is still a crushing metal album, never showing any signs of fabricated or overly forced elements. More importantly, however, Manegarm proves that native folk instruments belong in metal which is and always should be, the ultimate goal of any folk metal band.

Recommended Tracks
Ur Sjalslig Dod
Visioner Pa Isen
En Fallen Fader
I Underjorden
Vargstenen


user ratings (41)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Dethtrasher (4.5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
BallsToTheWall
May 18th 2008


44803 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good call on using word. It would have been a pain to rewrite this. I also suggest you check out Ikuinen Kaamos - Epilogue, it's pretty much the best album of year, at least in my opinion.

Digging: Pink Turns Blue - If Two Worlds Kiss

Zoo
May 18th 2008


3759 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, dude. I actually looked for that album but can't find it anywhere.

Crimson
May 18th 2008


1935 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Balls, you really should upload that for us dude.
As I said when you first reviewed this, one of the best folk releases of this kind I've heard.

BallsToTheWall
May 18th 2008


44803 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

To be frank, I don't know how so I guess we'll have to wait unfortunately. I need to hear more from this band other than myspace tracks. And to all, Round two is on my journal.

Wizard
May 18th 2008


19612 Comments


I love this album. I remember asking you Zoo where I could find some good Folk Metal (it was a while ago I think) and you recommended these guys.

Digging: Hans Zimmer - Interstellar

AngelPhoenix
May 18th 2008


2764 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I like this alot, but it starts to drag towards the end of the album for me. Second half sounds exactly the same as the first half, only not quite as good. Still a solid 3.5 to 4. A Fallen Feather and Visions on the Ice are so serious.

Essence
May 18th 2008


3587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Amazing album;
Wizard, we must re-establish our empire of spreadfull goodness.

south_of_heaven 11
May 18th 2008


5438 Comments


I have had this apparently since like, last year. Never listened to it though.

Zoo
May 18th 2008


3759 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I strongly suggest you listen to it now.

Dethtrasher
May 19th 2008


2211 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This album is amazing, nuff said.

Hugoj33
December 22nd 2008


1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Really really good

This guys make the difference in folk

Rugter32
March 4th 2009


754 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Been meaning to check this band out lately. Now downloading this album and that idunnohowtospellit - The Forest Sessions. Let's see then.

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2010


8937 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

excellent album~

MetalMartin
March 3rd 2011


64 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I just stumbled across the name of this band when I was on Wikipedia's list of BM bands. I clicked, read a little bit about the band then searched on iTunes to listen to samples. I was very surprised, so I downloaded the entire album and started to listen in its integrity. Again, I was astonished. This is a excellent album. This is a mix of lots of influences. It's an easy listening from start to finish. What surprised me a lot is the violin. It is very well exploited and mixed, and it doesn't get annoying or change the brutality of the BM/DM music.

Well done!

arturo1986
February 10th 2013


5 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I can say about this band? excellent look majestic and aggressive, has all the elements that we can ask of a viking black metal band, not the band manegarm do not need, deserve it! an epic journey, voices very melodic clean the higher side in the band, demonstrating that the simplest is converted to a new level and complex to be heard from start to finish
que puedo decir de esta banda ??es excelente majestuosa y a las ves agresiva,tiene todos los elementos que podemos pedir de una banda vikinga black metal ,manegarm no es la banda que no necesitamos ,la merecemos !!!con un viaje epico ,voces limpias muy melodico el lado mas alto en la banda ,demostrando que lo mas simple se convierte a un nivel complejo y nuevo debe ser escuchado de principio a fin !



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