Review Summary: Its not often you see a Folk Metal debut this damn good.
Over the last few years Folk Metal has split into two differing but similar sounds. The first is a classic amalgam of European folk melodies and Bathory-esque epicness that includes pieces like Ulver's Bergtatt
and Moonsorrow's Verisakeet
. While these albums display elements of folk, they are distinctly metal. The other side of this musical divide is most noted for its cheesiness with bands such as Finntroll and Equilibrium writing songs more akin to Germanic polka than what would normally fall in the realm of black metal. Sweden's Fimbultyr follow the first path and on their debut release Gryende Tidevarv
they have put together a tight collection of Moonsorrow inspired Folk Metal.
The first thing that you hear when Gryende Tidevarv starts is the typical "epic" instrumental opening piece. The first inclination is to prepare yourself for yet another
generic folk metal album but that soon changes. As soon as the title track kicks in its obvious that Gryende Tidevarv
is ****ing heavy. Like lead weight heavy. The furious guitars keep the album moving at a breakneck pace. That's not to say that Fimbultyr just rely on the tremolo picked frenzy that drives so many bands in the genre. Many of the tracks are littered with harmonious riffs that sound reminiscent of Amon Amarth at their catchiest. Thanks to a near flawless production, this is accomplished without losing any of the heaviness that pushes the album. The drumming is also top notch. The drumming, while for the most part just follows your standard blast-beat patterns, manages at times to be just as captivating as the guitars with well placed fills. Its not that the drum work is overly technical or inventive, but it manages to keep up with the guitars and at the same time injects a bit of a groove into the music. The only downside, as far as the instrumentation goes, is with the keyboards. Through out most of the album they are relegated to the backing position to which they belong, but at times the keyboards are allowed to "shine" and it does nothing constructive and just ends up adding a level of conflicting cheesiness. Luckily the keyboard is only given one real opportunity like this and it is in the track "Nidstang", which makes up for it with its engaging guitar work.
With Gryende Tidevarv
have produced not only a solid album, but one of the better Folk Metal albums of 2008. With Equilibrium, Moonsorrow, and Eluveitie among others all releasing top notch material, that's not something to be thrown around lightly. And unlike many of the aforementioned bands, Fimbultyr's memorable melodies and quality riffs will make Gryende Tidevarv
appealing to those metal fans that normally wouldn't find appeal in Folk Metal.