Review Summary: A solid listen in its entity; King Of Asgard’s …To North makes for a folk metal record that doesn’t drip in cliché.
King Of Asgard’s back to basics approach to their folk metal contrasts highly with bands such as Manegarm who’s raw approach clashed openly with the music they were producing and even bands on the other end of the scale such as Korpiklaani, Finntroll or even Ensiferum whose acts were more-or-less over the top and driven by cliché, a tendency to go over the top and a stage presence like every other major folk metal group that’s around. Rather this no frills group has a focus on songwriting and intelligent lyrical themes. This shows that King Of Asgard actually knows how to write music without hiding behind bagpipes, flutes and songbirds or a reliance of face paint to distract listeners.
Driving riff passages are reinforced by consistently paced drum work to create King Of Asgard’s back bone. Throw in the occasional strum of an acoustic guitar, some chanting and the strategically placed female vocalist … To North
highlights just what it takes to release a folk metal album in 2012. There is no need for over flamboyant wind sections just a focus on good songwriting. On their previous album (which also happened to be the debut) Fi'mbulvinter
; King Of Asgard showed the metal community what they are capable of, here they are simply reinforcing that original premise. The lyrical themes are as much of a match as the album before it and tracks here are played with the same if not more thought put into them. The record in itself is nothing truly special; but where it excels is in its simplicity. Standard time signatures allow this record to plod along; even vocal phrasing adds a sense of catchiness and adds to the album memorability. The only downfall of the record is its overall length. Eleven tracks that range from approximately five to seven minutes including an Isengard cover “Vinterskugge” do draw on the listeners patience creating a drawn out feel to the album as it becomes slightly too much of the same thing.
Paying tribute to their Norse heritage, King Of Asgard display a great sense of songwriting skill. Not only do they do the simple things well but they also reinforce how the subtle adding of layers can improve a sound. For example the title track shows a piano introduction, followed by simplistic riff and drum patterns, throw on a melodic lead and the track itself becomes alive. Unfortunately for this stellar folk metal group they follow this basic recipe to the letter for eleven tracks, ultimately a rather interesting listen becomes slightly tedious to sit through. …To North
is only marred by a repetitiveness and for the most part is the great listen it set out to be. This is an album for listeners who like their music ‘no frills’ with stylistic choices found in some of the vintage acts. The album is far from cliché and should be a welcome addition to many folk metal collections.