Sunday, January 6, 2013

Review of "Börn Loka" by Skálmöld

Buy this album

1. Óðinn
2. Sleipnir
3. Gleiðnir
4. Fenrisúlfur
5. Himinhrjóður
6. Mðgarðsormur
7. Narfi
8. Hel
9. Váli
10. Loki
11. Eldur

SKÁLMÖLD did not bask in the fame they earned for their highly acclaimed debut "Baldur", but started to work on new songs immediately after returning from their tour. "Börn Loka" ("Loki’s children") is a concept album that focuses on the story of the siblings Hilmar and Brynhildur. In order to achieve honor as a Viking warrior, Hilmar has to embark on a perilous journey, fight terrifying beasts and possibly make the biggest sacrifice imaginable. SKÁLMÖLD’s characteristic Viking Metal serves as the soundtrack for this journey. This time, the Icelandic musicians even added a classical choir and the unique voice of Edda Tegeder (Angist) to their rich soundscapes. The raw yet melodic tunes combined with the epic story of Hilmar results in a sweeping mix that goes right under skin and captivates the listener’s imagination. "Börn Loka" is an original and profound longplayer, that fills the legends of the North with new life!

This album entitled “Börn Loka,” starts with the epic intro track, “Óðinn.” With awesome choir vocals and chilled out guitars, as well as an awesome oboe ending, this is quite the awesome start. “Sleipnir” brings very catchy guitar riffs that have a fantastic folk vibe to them. There is great guitar solos and the vocals are nicely done as well. The first riff made “Gleiðnir” an instant favourite of mine. How the guitars and the way the vocals are laid out makes me want to go to a pub, get hammered, and mosh around while spilling beer. The mix of growls and higher screams in “Fenrisúlfur” was great. The slower riff and laid back drums was a great touch to this otherwise thrash-folk track and clean vocals added to that was very worthy of a pint raise. “Himinhrjóður” was a short but epic ambient break with what sounds like the slaying of some beast. Very groovy riffs on the next track, “Miðgarðsormur,” are very enjoyable to listen to. The use of clean vocals on this just accents the menace of it as a whole, having both clean and growls makes for interesting transitions. 

Another slow track to sway back and forth to with a pint in the air is the next one entitled “Narfi.” The vocals on this track are definitely sing-a-long worthy, if I knew Icelandic, it’s the perfect pub chant track. A heavier, epic yet menacing track appropriate for the track title, comes in the form of “Hel.”  The oboe break in the middle with the sound of wind blowing was quite chilling, especially with the dirty screams accompanying them. The grimness that follows consumes the light from inside you with its chilling blast beats. Great tribal drumming with guitars then joining in starts the next track, “Hel,” off right. When the band plays this part as a whole it is incredible. This is a slower track from the one before with epic grooves with a tint of chilling feels. “Loki” is a nine minute epic to finish off this extremely folk masterpiece, bringing great grooves but also cold menacing pieces as well. The solo on this track is the most impressive thing I have heard in quite some time, which is followed by a beautiful oboe and guitar piece. Skálmöld shows off all their talent to bring your listen to a perfect close.

This is the first great folk metal album I have heard this year since King of Asgard. Although “…to North” had more of a black and folk vibe, Skálmöld’s “Börn Loka” has more of a death and folk feel to it which sounds a little more badass to me. I’d definitely pick this up if you like the heavier aspects of folk metal.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Review of "Misery Escape" by The Sorrow

Buy this album

1. Retracing Memories
2. The Escape
3. Burial Bridge
4. My Oblivion
5. A Reason
6. Buried in the Deep
7. A Thin Red Line
8. Perspectives
9. Lost Chapters
10. Dead Home
11. Follow the Lights

"Misery Escape" is the long awaited fourth album by THE SORROW and the first notes show that the Austrians made a huge step forward without losing sight of their roots. With the right mix of brutality and melody, the Amadeus Award winner and frequent guest on European’s biggest festivals shows how to clad heavy riffs, anthemic refrains and grooves in sophisticated arrangements. This is how intelligent and versatile songwriting must sound! Particular emphasis lies on the vocals that range from screams to clear parts that result in catchy refrains. "Misery Escape" is the quintessence of THE SORROW’s qualities and a unique Metalcore manifestation!

The album starts with the track “Retracing Memories,” bringing chugging with technical riffs over top which were really enjoyable and brutal the way the drums go along with it. I’m a little partial to the clean vocals, the more growly type vocals are well done though, but the guitars make this track in my opinion. The breakdown style riffs in the next track, “The Escape,” are really well done the way they are played. I found the solo quite impressive and the guitars as a whole are really great. “Burial Bridge” has some catchy melodic riffs. The guitars about a little over half way are heavy and badass sounding as well. Starting off with the fast paced melodic death metal riff which was awesome is the next track, “My Oblivion,” but when the track mellowed out I was a little bummed. There is just something about melodic riffs and clean vocals that doesn’t sit right with me. Especially the whoa chant, which if anything was delivered better than As I Lay Dying’s new track “Tear Out My Eyes”, but the bass riff after that part made me happy. I liked the breakdown on the track, “A Reason.” If there is anything I enjoy the most from The Sorrow, it would be their guitar work. They can be heavy sounding if they want to be and that’s the side of them I like best.

The melodic riffs and screams on “Buried in the Deep” blended extremely well. There is more woah-ing in this track but at least they do it with style and added a bass diddle into it as well. “A Thin Red Line” has a great mix of death metal and melodic riffs. The acoustic bit half way through, along with the snare rolls and distant screamed vocals, was nice the way it flowed. The technical riffs near the end were really badass, even more so when the bass had its piece. “Perspectives” had a snare march half way through with guitar chugs and a vocal chant which was a nice touch to the track. The melodic riffs are pretty good as well. The next track “Lost Chapters,” is pretty mellow, but the fact that it stays pretty heavy with how slow it was makes it a great one. The bass riff accompanying the melodic riffs was really groovy on the following track. In fact, all of the guitar on “Dead Home” had an amazing groove to the flow and the technical riffs are really amazing as well. As an album ending track, I must say, “Follow the Lights” was a pretty well rounded track, with pretty heavy riffs and melodic bits. When they slowed it down and did clean vocals it kind of made me worry. The second time they did it the backing vocals included made it a little too cheesy, but they followed it up with some delicious chugs.

As much as I dislike most metalcore, I must give credit where credit is due. The Sorrow does what they aim to do very well and can be both melodic and clean or heavy and brutal. They are impressive in both and even if I am not a fan of the genre, I can hear the talent they have. I recommend picking this up if you’re a fan of metalcore.