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.

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