Shadow of the Deep: Unleased

Rating: 90%

Unleashed_Shadows_in_the_Deep_front.jpegIn 1992, this classic Death Metal album was released by the Unleashed. I love this band from the sound to the lyrical themes. It was said that these guys might be the first true Death Metal band that wrote lyrics about Norse mythology and to be considered as the front runners of Viking Metal.

Musically, this album isn’t as brutal sounding as it could be, if compared to the newer bands or Black Metal.  But, it’s one toned down heavy sounding album that packs a punch. I love the how Unleashed incorporated influences of Hardcore Punk and Thrash Metal to their blend of Death Metal. Also, this album features an array of tempos that one minute their superfast to heavy slow the next. This album also has a bit of that melodic sound to it. It’s well balanced. Plenty of good bass lines, tempos, and riffs to leads. This is classic Death Metal at it’s best.

Track listing:

1. “The Final Silence” 2:54
2. “The Immortals” 4:23
3. “A Life Beyond” 4:49
4. “Shadows in the Deep” 5:02
5. “Countess Bathory” (Venom cover) 4:02
6. “Never Ending Hate” 2:32
7. “Onward into Countless Battles” 4:14
8. “Crush the Skull” 3:36
9. “Bloodbath” 4:09
10. “Land of Ice” 4:33

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Eric the Red: Týr

Rating: 90%

Eric_the_red_re-release_cover.jpgReleased in 2003 and released in 2006, “Eric the Red” is a unique take on European traditional folk songs and tales. Musically, this album is a combination of Folk and Viking Metal with some Progressive influences. It also has some of the Power and Epic Metal elements that are blended nicely into Týr’s brand of Heavy Metal. One thing is for sure, Týr will leave you wanting to know more about the traditional themes that are the subject of their lyrics.

The song structures are very complex, loosing more of the power chord and going for more of riffs that are almost along the lines of scales. Think Iron Maiden. The music itself isn’t as heavy as most Viking Metal bands are as many of them fall into the Death Metal realm, but along the lines of traditional Heavy Metal.  Again, think of early Iron Maiden or Manowar. This album is rich on harmony and melody from the music to the vocals. It also seems to have some melodic melodies to it as well.

Vocally, there are chants and songs written in poetic manor that tells story of those yesterdays. The arrangements of lyrics are both inspiring and epic along with those melodic and majestic chorus lines. The chorus really makes you want to sing out loud and you’ll hear inside you mind because of how catchy they are. It’ll turn you into a Pagan or Heathen when your done.

Vocalist and guitarist Heri Joensen delivers a great performance on this record. I really admire his vocal style and song writing capabilities. Also shredding on the ax is Terji Skibenæs. Keeping pace and time is bassist Gunnar H. Thomsen and drummer Kári Streymoy whom I must say really give this brand of Viking Metal that tasteful Progressive complex of off beats. 

 

Track listing:

1. “The Edge” 7:44
2. “Regin Smiður” Traditional Faroese 6:08
3. “Dreams” 5:32
4. “The Wild Rover” Traditional Irish 4:12
5. “Stýrisvølurin” Traditional Faroese 6:57
6. “Ólavur Riddararós” Traditional Faroese 4:36
7. “Rainbow Warrior”  5:28
8. “Ramund Hin Unge” Traditional Danish 4:31
9. “Alive” 7:24
10. “Eric the Red” 7:42
11. “God of War” 6:23
12. “Hail to the Hammer” 3:49

Eld: Enslaved

Rating: 75%

enslaved_eldI’ve been into Viking Metal for over two decades now. One of the bands in Viking Metal that one will hear about is Enslaved. When I gather a list of bands to check out, this was among that list. So, I went to Record and Tape Traders and began my exploration into this genre. “Eld” was my first exposure to this band. the personell for this album is guitarist & keyboardist Ivar Bjørnson, vocalist & bassist Grutle Kjellson, and drummer Harald Helgeson.

There is decent mixture of acoustic and electric elements in the instrumentation of the music. There’s an balance of clean vs. dirty vocals that don’t detract from the overall style of Black/Viking Metal. Although, Black Metal in nature, the song structures feature melodies ranging from mid tempo sections to the extremely up beat and fast in nature song structures.  Think of the word “epic.” There are influences of Progressive music in this release. So this isn’t a stand alone Black Metal record.

There is some really great musicianship on this album from the riffs, leads, bass, to the drumming. The guitars are very gritty as well as the bass. There’s somewhat of a crunch that brings out the heaviness of these two instruments. Some of the guitar works seem to be a bit complex. Another stand out trait is the melody and how in certain areas of the music, it becomes more atmospheric or melodic. The overall sound remains very raw, however, there is some texture to the it.

Track listing:

1. “793 (Slaget om Lindisfarne)” (“793 (The Battle of Lindisfarne)”) 16:10
2. “Hordalendingen” (“The Man from Hordaland”) 5:19
3. “Alfablot” (“Sacrifice to the Elves”) 6:33
4. “Kvasirs blod” (“The Blood of Kvasir”) 7:51
5. “For lenge siden” (“A Long Time Ago”) 8:08
6. “Glemt” (“Forgotten”) 8:04
7. “Eld” (“Fire”) 6:36

Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa (As Shadows We Walk in the Land of the Dead): Moonsorrow

Rating: 95%

Varjoina_kuljemme_kuolleiden_maassa.jpgIn 2011, Moonsorrow released “Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa.”  I have always respected Moonsorrow for their huge epic and powerful sound. And this album doesn’t disappoint. Moonsorrow has added a another great noteworthy album to their discography. Although, consistent with regards to their genre, Moonsorrow seems to make it work well. The only disappointment that I have with this album is the small fillers or the interludes that are under two minutes long. I know that those interludes lead into the much larger sagas.

Musicianship is very good. The guitar riffs, the bass lines and the powerful drumming along with the keyboards gives this album a great full sound. Vocally, this is another great piece. Although, this album lacks lead guitars, it’s still a great album. Each musician is very talented and each brings that piece to the band that is needed to make a great Heavy Metal band.

Song structures are intense. Moonsorrow doesn’t disappoint when it comes to blending elements of Black Metal and Folk influenced melodies together. The music is very full, rich and filled with content. Each song, excluding the interludes, are vibrant and in some cases sound very complex. For their length, it’s almost as if you’re on a journey that never disappoints. I still love the large choir and the orchestra mixed with those Folk instrumentation. The jaw harp is another added touch that makes the music. There’s lot’s of great melodies and yes, harmony.

This album is not only a great Moonsorrow album, but it’s also a great Folk Metal album too. Moonsorrow is one of those bands that continues to define this genre that we call a sub-genre of Black Metal into it’s own category.

Track listing:

1. “Tähdetön” Starless 12:44
2. “Hävitetty” Ravaged 1:34
3. “Muinaiset” The Ancient Ones 11:43
4. “Nälkä, väsymys ja epätoivo” Hunger, Weariness and Despair 1:12
5. “Huuto” The Scream 15:58
6. “Kuolleille” For the Dead 1:35
7. “Kuolleiden maa” The Land of the Dead 16:22