Length: 52 minutes
A nice return to folk music’s roots. You know, with loud electric guitars, pounding drums, and lots of screaming vocals and such;)
For those who miss the more melodic aspect of Viking Metal, Sweden’s GRIMNER should help satisfy your cravings. Think early ENISFERUM with added traditional folk instruments. Their 2014 release ‘Blodshymner’ doesn’t revolutionize the genre, but its got some kick-ass songs with melodies to die in bloody battle for. Viking Metal stands proud once again.
Thankfully, GRIMNER uses real folk instruments. Johan Rydberg plays flute, mandola, and bagpipes which greatly enhance the metal within, especially the flute which lays down most of the melodies. Guitarists Ted Sjulmark and Marcus Apslund Brattberg keep these songs heavy metal and provide the Vocals, a combination of growling/clean leads and clean backing. Kristoffer Kullberg plays the keys which thicken the melodies pretty well, not an overly modern distraction. Bass Guitar by David Fransson while Henry Persson pounds those often speedy Drums.
These guys take their music seriously, this is not a gimmick band. Not to say that there isn’t fun to be heard on ‘Blodshymner’, just that this isn’t silly “party” Folk Metal. Much intensity and care has been put into these 10 Swedish Viking Metal tracks.
The album begins and ends with instrumentals. The early tracks are solid but less remarkable Viking themed Folk Metal. “Fard” is a nice slow-pacer with a beautiful flute melody that tumbles through tempo shifts and vocal variety.
On the back half of ‘Blodshymner’ everything blossoms into one sweeping epic melody after another. “Forna Dagar” has a tune I just can’t stop humming, I think I’ve played this track like twenty times–reminding me most of the melodic rich tracks from Chinese Folk Metallers THE SAMANS. “Mot Jotunheim” starts heavy with the guitars up front, a rousing Death Metal
call chant to arms.
“En Saga Om Underjorden” has the best uses of layered chorus chanting since, well, ever. There’s a great contrast between the growls and the sweet flute. Prog in complexity and variety, even putting a weirdly fun little jig mid-song. A perfect celebration of all things Viking.
GRIMNER end up blending ENISFERUM intensity with KORPIKLAANI fun, but (almost?) never slipping into a drunken brawl. They sail unto glorious battle against those that stand in their path. Raise your swords to victory.
If you like Viking/Folk Metal, GRIMNER’s ‘Blodshymner’ is a must-own. For everyone else, keep in mind the inherent whimsy that follows when a Death Metal band uses flutes and bagpipes, and then choose wisely. I loved it. If you don’t, that’s your problem.