By the Sword of My Father: Folkearth

Rating: 90%

By_the_Sword_of_My_Father.jpgFolkearth is a side project band that brings musicians from all over the world together to play Folk, Pagan, and Viking songs. “By the Sword of My Father” is the second album released by the Folkearth in 2006. It features dozens of musicians, too many to list here. 31 musicians and vocalists to be exact. With that being said, each song is performed by different musicians.

If you respect different cultures and different style of Heavy Metal music in the Folk, Pagan, Black Metal, Death Metal, and Viking Metal, then this may be worth a listen. But, be warned, not all of the music here is strictly Black Metal or Heavy Metal. Some songs are structured after European Folk. It’s more of a collection of music that celebrates the different Folk cultures and traditions, mainly northern Europe and Scandinavia.

The musicianship is hard to gage since so many were used. But, the all of the vocalists are good in their own genres. There is a balance between clean and harsh vocals. It has some big choir style chorus lines. All of the guitarist and other string performers are excellent. Several guitar leads and fills are on this album and they are good. On certain songs, you’ll hear the violin, harp and others string instruments. Other traditional instruments are used from bagpipes to hurdy-gurdy. Drumming and other percussionists are excellent as well.  Musically and song structures, this is a very solid effort and strong album.

Track six is an excellent instrumental that features a classical style harp and acoustic guitar that introduces the listener to what Folk music is about. After that, you get the banging of the drums and tambourine which explodes with the electric guitar solo and bagpipes. Track 15 is another outstanding acoustical piece that includes some damn good vocals.  Track 10 is a cover song originally written and performed by Falkenbach. Folkearth uses this song to pay tribute to mythology of the gods that were once part of Heathen Culture.

Track listing:

“Introduction” — 4:24
“The Lady’s Gift” — 3:48
“By the Sword of My Father” — 5:26
“Naglfar Sets Sail” — 5:18
“The Death of Beowulf” — 6:04
“Instrumental” — 4:24
“Skaldic Art” — 4:04
“Domain of Darksome Ravens” — 5:39
“Returne to Waelhalle” — 4:41
“Heathenpride” — 8:43
“Elves” — 1:29
“Invictus” — 6:08
“Wisdom of Wolves” — 2:50
“Sailing A’Viking” — 2:08
“Tribute to Viking Gods” — 4:04
“Journey Ends (outro)” — 3:23

Led Zeppelin III

Rating: 100%

Led_Zeppelin_-_Led_Zeppelin_III.pngIn 1970, Led Zeppelin III was released. Leaving some of the Blues influences behind, you the group incorporating lots of Folk elements and some Country influences into their music. The result was Led Zeppelin III. This record will influence what would become Folk Metal and Viking Metal in the late 1990’s – 2000’s. This record also leaves behind much of the hard electric riffs and moving into a more acoustically structure that is still just as powerful. The group is expanding musically and this record is proof of that. The result was another very good record that still influences musicians today.

Not is is gone when it comes to Heavy Metal/Hard Rock guitar riffs. “Immigrant Song” is a great example of the heaviness of what Led Zeppelin has been known for up to this point. The Blues influences that this album lacks, is still there. “Since I’ve Been Loving You” is a great example of the Blues style of Hard Rock that Led Zeppelin is known for.

Just like the previous albums, Led Zeppelin delivers great musicianship. The song structures are pieced together flawlessly. The harmony and melody is there. This record contains some great riffs and leads that only Jimmy Page could manufacture. Vocals by Robert Plant are again, done wonderfully. He has plenty of range and just wails on this record. He has established what a front man should be in Heavy Metal music. John Paul Jones and Jon Bonham again drive the music home with their playing and setting the tone and tempo of the music.

Track Listing:

Side one
1. “Immigrant Song” 2:26
2. “Friends” 3:55
3. “Celebration Day” 3:29
4. “Since I’ve Been Loving You”7:25
5. “Out on the Tiles” 4:04
Side two
6. “Gallows Pole” Traditional 4:58
7. “Tangerine” 3:12
8. “That’s the Way” 5:38
9. “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp”  4:20
10. “Hats Off to (Roy) Harper” Traditional 3:41

Harvest: Neil Young

Rating: 100%

NeilYoungHarvestalbumcover.jpgNeil Young over the decades has proven that he can play just about any style of music from Country, Grunge, Heavy Metal, Blues and yes, Folk. He has also proven that he can play the guitar like no other with his famous dropped down D tuning. He plays piano, organ, harmonica and yes, banjo.

It’s no surprise that 1972’s release “Harvest” was one of his best records. After his successful debut in 1968 and then again with Crazy Horse in 1969, what would you expect Neil Young to do with his fourth release? “Harvest” was the answer.

“Harvest” is a collection of Folk and Country Rock songs. This album features a string of hits that are among Neil Young’s best from the title track “Harvest”,  to “Heart of Gold”, “Old Man” and  “The Needle and the Damage Done” which was written about Crazy Horse front man Danny Whitten who died from a heroin overdose.

This album is also holds part two of two swings at the American South. In 1970, Young wrote the song “Southern Man” which dealt with the issues of Slavery and Racism. On this record the song “Alabama” was released dealing with the state that Alabama was in.  In 1974, Lynyrd Skynyrd answered Neil Young with their hit song “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Musically, this album is among one of Neil Young’s all-time best. He is a great performer and the mixture of music that was produced on this record is fantastic. It contains a little bit of everything. Mild to upbeat tempos, great song structures that are not overdone. “Words (Between the Lines of Age)” features a great guitar jam session that Neil Young has always been known for. The musicianship behind the backing band the Stray Gators is very tight. All of the musicians work so well with one another. no wonder this record is among the top all time best.

Track Listing:

Side one

1. “Out on the Weekend” 4:35
2. “Harvest” 3:11
3. “A Man Needs a Maid” 4:05
4. “Heart of Gold” 3:07
5. “Are You Ready for the Country?” 3:33

Side two

1. “Old Man” 3:24
2. “There’s a World” 2:59
3. “Alabama” 4:02
4. “The Needle and the Damage Done” (recorded in concert January 30, 1971) 2:03
5. “Words (Between the Lines of Age)” 6:40

I Feel Alright: Steve Earle

Rating: 85%

Steve_Earle_-_I_Feel_Alright_CoverartI’ve always liked Steve Earle since “Copperhead Road” was released in 1988. He fuses country, folk and rock into his own brand of Country Rock music. This fusion is what I liked about his music. It was like listening to Tom Petty, Merle Haggard, John Mellencamp and Neil Young all in one.

Steve Earle released “I Feel Alright” in 1996. This album has some really great songs on here. The title track for one “Feel Alright” has a lot of attitude and is like a tiger that has been let out of the cage. It has a heavy acoustical opening which is quickly followed by the rest of the band. His southern drenched raspy voice is amazing.

“Hurtin’ Me, Hurtin’ You” is another great song off this album. It starts out as a country slow song. But by the second verse, the music deepens. The chorus is a mixture of clear undistorted guitars, while a lightly distorted guitar is in the background. Then the bridge comes which is sloppy, but, it’s a work of art at the same time. You can feel the pain in this song from the music to the way Steve Earle sings.

“Poor Boy” is a nice piece of Country music that is influenced by Rockabilly. The melody and tempo are both a nice nod to the old days of Johnny Cash.

“The Unrepentant” is the heaviest song on this album. The electric guitar on this song is borderline Hard Rock. The drumming is very aggressive and features a few offbeats that is not normally found in Country music. The lead on this track is great. It has a groovy riff too.

“CCKMP” or “Cocaine Can’t Kill My Pain” is about the drug addition that grasped Steve’s life. It’s just Steve and a Dobro. The song itself has a very eerie, deep and heavy sound to it. It’s aggressive lyrics and vocal style is so evil.

This album is not a bad album. There are many good songs on this album that are uplifting and some that are just downright sad. These songs are part of Steve’s recovery and therefore, are coming from his heart.

Track Listing:

“Feel Alright” — 3:04
“Hard-Core Troubadour” — 2:41
“More Than I Can Do” — 2:37
“Hurtin’ Me, Hurtin’ You” — 3:21
“Now She’s Gone” — 2:48
“Poor Boy” — 2:55
“Valentine’s Day” — 2:59
“The Unrepentant” — 4:31
“CCKMP” — 4:30
“Billy and Bonnie” — 3:39
“South Nashville Blues” — 3:39
“You’re Still Standin’ There” — 3:24

Self-titled: Crazy Horse

Rating: 85%

CrazyHorseCDThe year was 1971, and after recording with Neil Young in 1969 and 1970, Crazy Horse released their self-titled debut record. Prior to the recording with Neil Young, Crazy Horse was known as the Rockets which released their first album in 1968, where they soon became the backing band for Neil Young after he left Buffalo Springfield. Crazy Horse was made up of guitarist and vocalist Danny Whitten, bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina who also sang lead vocals on “Dance Dance Dance”, a song written by Neil Young. The band hired guitarist Nils Lofgren and pianist Jack Nitzsche.

Crazy Horse takes their musical influences from hard rock and country rock of the day. Fusing the two genres and adding a dash of folk rock to it. Although, their sound is a bit different than that of the backing band for Neil Young, Crazy Horse proves they can stand and hold their own ground. The album has an even keel tempo throughout the majority of the record. Lots of great guitar riffs and added to Danny Whitten vocals, the album is very good. “Downtown” and “Dirty, Dirty” are great examples. The Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young style of backing vocals give this album a more folk rock sound. The song structures are written very well, from the melody to the actual lyrics themselves. Some of the songs, one would recognize from the recordings Neil Young’s “Tonight’s the Night” which features “Downtown” and “After the Gold Rush” which features the song “Dance, Dance, Dance.”

This was the only Crazy Horse album to feature Danny Whitten as he died in 1972 from his drug use. Danny died the same night that Neil Young sent him packing for home on November 18. Neil Young wrote the song “The Needle and the Damage Done” because of Whitten’s drug use which was released on the “Harvest” album.

Track listing:

Side one
1. “Gone Dead Train”
2. “Dance, Dance, Dance”
3. “Look at All the Things”
4. “Beggars Day”
5. “I Don’t Want to Talk About It”
Side two
1. “Downtown”
2. “Carolay”
3. “Dirty, Dirty”
4. “Nobody”
5. “I’ll Get By”
6. “Crow Jane Lady”

Déjà Vu: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Rating: 90%

Crosby,_Stills,_Nash_&_Young_-_Deja_Vu.jpgOn March 11, 1970 after riding the tide of Woodstock, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Neil Young released “Déjà Vu.” They were the hottest group raging across America. The four men needed to recapture that energy with an official release. “Déjà Vu” was that album. Although, I am not a huge fan of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, this is one of my favorite albums released by the super group.

The harmony of the four vocalist group is amazing. The songs are great including my favorite “Helpless” and “Country Girl.” The rock anthem for long hair “Almost Cut My Hair” by David Crosby is still a classic. “4 + 20” is another great acoustical track that features Stephen Stills on vocals.

This album features many different song styles and structures. The album musically, contains elements of folk, country, blues and rock. If you’re a fan of Neil Young, you’ll know it’s his song or if he’s playing lead just by his sound and style. Just like Stephen Stills style is heard clearly on each track.

The band itself features drummer Dallas Taylor and bassist Greg Reeves. A notable personnel member includes Jerry Garcia  of the Grateful Dead playing the steel guitar on “Teach Your Children.”

Track listing:

Side one
1. “Carry On” Stephen Stills Stills 4:26
2. “Teach Your Children” Graham Nash Nash 2:53
3. “Almost Cut My Hair” David Crosby Crosby 4:31
4. “Helpless” Neil Young Young 3:33
5. “Woodstock” Joni Mitchell Stills 3:54

Side two
1. “Déjà Vu” David Crosby Crosby 4:12
2. “Our House” Graham Nash Nash 2:59
3. “4 + 20” Stephen Stills Stills 2:04
4. “Country Girl (Whiskey Boot Hill/Down Down Down/”Country Girl (I Think You’re Pretty))” Neil Young Young with Crosby, Stills & Nash 5:11
5. “Everybody I Love You” Stephen Stills, Neil Young Stills with Crosby & Nash 2:21