are one of many bands that I have discovered by simply buying the album without knowing much about the bands sound. As I was touring around the music store in hopes of finding something interesting, I came across this strange Swedish name and I decided to look it up. The details of this name search revealed Manegarm
as a viking metal band. I first bought their latest album Vargstenen
and was completely blown away. On this note, I ordered another album by them; this time ordering their first album Nordstjarnans Tidsalder
. For the first time ever, I could say that I came across some real Viking metal. Vargstenen
contained a lot of black metal elements with folk influenced melodies and the traditional black metal shrieking. But what sets this Manegarm
album apart from the rest was their use of folk music and folk instruments that were blended in perfectly. Even a female vocalist appears now and then accompanied by a few short and sweet acoustic interludes throughout the songs, adding a few moments to sit back and reflect. The band has definitely evolved with their music, but even if this album has its strong points, there are still some things that drag this album down a bit.
or ''The Age Of The Northern Star'' is Viking metal in one of it’s better moments. All of the lyrics are sung in Swedish, which enhances the folk atmosphere as well as the folk instruments such as flutes, violins, mouthharps and jewsharp, creating wonderful and mysterious melodies. The raspy black metal shrieks, blast-beats and tremolo picked guitars create an aggressive and energetic flow to the music. But this is no way near the perfection that ''Vargstenen'' has in terms of vocal and song variety. However, there are some memorable tracks here; songs like Fadernas Kall
, Den Dodes Drommar
and Tiden Som Komma Skall
. These tracks contain some of the strongest and best song dynamics. As well, these songs utilize the best of the folk instruments, melodies and vocals to be found on this album. The track Ymer
, which is a small filler song, also stands out a bit on here too. On this track, the listener is treated with the best example of an ‘almost’ pure folk based song, containing only a female vocalist alongside the acoustic folk instruments.
Even if this band has some interesting features in their music, the album also has it drawbacks as well. Many of the tracks feel somewhat stiff and slightly repetitive, allowing for large amounts of blast-beating, one-dimensional vocals and a small use of folk influences. Also, some vocalists that perform shrieking and screaming styles can either pull it off really well or just flat out can’t. This vocalist falls into the latter of the two. Most of his vocal duties are weak and sound flat for the most part. Even the female backup singer tends to have some rough cuts in her vocal performances. Everything has been focused on the guitars, drums and vocals while the female vocals and the folk instruments have been given a small space to deliver their moments. As well, even if the instruments can carry a good melody, the listener will notice that a majority of instruments still sound a bit unfocused. You can particularly hear this on the violin sections where some moments are brilliant. Unfortunately, the weaker parts tend to over-shadow these sometimes brilliant violin moments.
The differences are huge between this album and their latest album Vargstenen
but there are aspects about this that make it a really good Viking metal album. You have the folk elements, the female vocalist and the interesting song dynamics that are the keys to Manegarm’s
sound. But this album has some flaws that drag throughout the album such as the lack of vocal diversity and the small use of folk instruments. This album will take some time to sink in for those who are not into Viking metal. For those who love Viking metal, you will most likely enjoy this all the way though. If you like bands like the Viking forefathers Thyrfing
or perhaps Viking-era a la Bathory
, then you should give this album a listen.
+ Good song variety
+ Good use of folk elements through the instruments and melodies
+ The female vocalist is heard more often
+ The mix between soft and hard musical elements
- The vocal variety is not good, very one-dimensional
- A slightly better sound production wouldn’t hurt
- The folk instruments tend to drag now and then
Track Translation, Swedish/English Note that these are rough translations of the reviewer and that they might not be 100% correct.
-- I Nordstjarnans Sken / In The Light Of The Northern Star
-- Fadernas Kall (Under Hojda Nordbaner) / The Call Of Ancestors (Under Raised Northern Banners)
-- Drakeld / Dragons Fire
-- Den Dodes Drommar / The Dreams Of A Dead
-- Nordanblod / Northern Blood
-- En Fallen Harskare / A Fallen Ruler
-- Ymer (Name of a giant in Viking mythology)
-- Vinder Fran Glomda Tider / Winds From Forgotten Times
-- Blod, Jord Och Stjarneglans / Blood, Soil and Starlight
-- Det Sargade Landet / The Wounded Land
-- Tiden Som Komma Skall / The Time That Shall Come
-- Fadernas Kall 4.5/5
-- Den Dodes Drommar 4/5
-- Tiden Som Komma Skall 4/5
Final rating will be a 3/5