Album Review – Himiltungl / Öden (2017)

An unconventional album by three high-skilled musicians who want to share their inner Swedish darkness with others through their haunting mix of Black and Viking Metal with folk melodies from the deep forests of Jamtland.

Rating5

cover-digitalFormed in 2013 in Gothenburg, the second-largest city in Sweden and the fifth-largest in the Nordic countries, and inspired by the traditional Folk, Viking and Black Metal creations by bands like Týr, Vintersorg and Woods of Ypres, Folk Metal band Himiltungl (which means “the fucking moon” in ancient Swedish) weaves a haunting mix of Black and Viking Metal with folk melodies from the deep forests of Jamtland, a historical province in the center of Sweden. The band consists of three high-skilled musicians who want to share their inner Swedish darkness with others, and in that way invoke a sense of dread, joy and wonder, primarily singing in Swedish and Jamtlandic with lyrics conflictingly revolving around the majesty of nature interspersed with reflections on the terminality of life and death.

If all that explanation doesn’t make a lot of sense to you, simply hit play and enjoy the music found in Öden (which translates to “fates”), the long awaited follow-up to their debut album Svart Ravin, from 2013, telling stories of blood, loss and tragic ends while continuing to explore the folk-inspired path that was initiated with their first album, always moving towards heavier and more progressive sounds. Each song will sound completely different to your ears, sometimes bursting with anger and aggressiveness, sometimes being as smooth as the sound of a placid lake, and that’s exactly what Himiltungl wants you to feel while listening to Öden. This is not your average Folk Metal album, so you better sharpen your senses for the freakish amalgamation of sounds and emotions found in Öden in order to understand what the Folk Metal by Himiltungl truly means.

In Myrens Gäst, the trio starts blasting their dark music with folk elements from the very beginning, with the somber vocals by Jens being complemented by the also melancholic voice by Magnus. It’s quite difficult to label this as only one subgenre of heavy music, but I would personally say it sounds like some sort of “Melodic Dark Folk Metal”. Anyway, in The Dying War, one of the few songs in English from the album, Jens and his hellish gnarls perfectly fit the unusual and modern Folk Metal instrumental, with drummer Mattias bringing the necessary groove and progressiveness to the musicality. And Skogstokig brings forward Scandinavian guitar lines and minstrel-like vocals in a very traditional folk way, with its last part getting more metallic with potent riffs and beats alternating with harmonious vocalizations.

Paying homage to their tribal roots, the band offers the listener Eldsjäl, a touching blend of Folk Metal and ancient soundings where both Jens and Magnus deliver passionate performances on vocals, with some harsher moments to spice up the final result; followed by Shadows Crowd, their most contemporary composition, getting closer to Blackened Folk Metal. Mattias and Magnus craft the base to this melancholic and powerful chant with their beats and bass lines, while Jens once again delivers solid vocal lines throughout the entire song. In Kung Jorum a melancholic intro flows into heavier traditional music with all folk elements sounding crystal clear, also presenting interesting acoustic passages, whereas in Cerebration Gate an inspiring beginning quickly morphs into a mid-tempo Folk Metal hymn, presenting raspier gnarls by Jens and heavier guitar lines. This is in my opinion one of the best songs of the album, showcasing an effective combination of progressiveness and feeling.

himiltungl_oden-42

Photo by Paul Wennerholm – http://paulwennerholm.com/

In Tångsal, a song made to be played and sung around the fire pit, Jens grasps the song’s lyrics like a demonic entity while the instrumental parts feel like a blend of Folk and Pagan Metal with hints of Black Metal, before Sökaren brings forward medieval and folk elements added to its heavy and electrified guitars, with the backing vocals as well as the precise drumming by Mattias elevating the overall quality of the song. And Glöd, their most complex aria and the longest of all tracks at almost nine minutes, displays over two minutes of distorted noises before the music reaches its final shape and tone. Moreover, when the guitar by Jens gets heavier than usual, the song gets a lot more obscure and impactful.

Urmoder not only has an excellent pace and intensity, but the symphonic elements present in it also bring more darkness to the overall musicality, with all band members delivering a precise performance (in special Mattias with his potent and rhythmic beats) in what’s one of the most gripping of all songs. Ivolin, another blast of Folk and Pagan Metal, proves that when Himiltungl craft their modern and heavy version of minstrel-like music they effectively reflect their core essence and their inspirations; and in the introspective Hatarens Sång, minimalist guitar sounds generate the ambience for Jens and his bandmates to tell a story through their grim vocals, with all instruments being progressively added to the music for a climatic ending.

After listening to the multilayered Öden, available on iTunes and on Amazon, you’ll certainly agree with what I said in the beginning of this review about how difficult it is to label the music by this up-and-coming Swedish trio. You can definitely try giving a name or definition to their music, by studying more about the band and their creations through their Facebook page, YouTube channel, BandCamp and SoundCloud. As previously mentioned, I like to call their music as “Melodic Dark Folk Metal”, simply because it is indeed very melodic, constantly dark and always folk, but anything I say won’t be enough to describe their unconventional canticles.

Best moments of the album: Shadows Crowd, Cerebration Gate and Urmoder.

Worst moments of the album: Kung Jorum.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Myrens Gäst 6:32
2. The Dying War 3:10
3. Skogstokig 3:34
4. Eldsjäl 5:22
5. Shadows Crowd 4:41
6. Kung Jorum 7:18
7. Cerebration Gate 5:32
8. Tångsal 3:09
9. Sökaren 3:44
10. Glöd 8:55
11. Urmoder 3:58
12. Ivolin 4:03
13. Hatarens Sång 3:25

Band members
Jens – vocals, guitars
Magnus – bass, vocals
Mattias – drums

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Album Review – Horn / Turm am Hang (2017)

One of the most respected underground musicians from Germany returns with more of his nature-themed, medieval style Black Metal bound to pagan roots and tribalism in another remarkable album.

Rating4

coverSince its creation in 2002 by German multi-instrumentalist Niklas “Nerrath”, Teutonic one-man army Horn has aimed at creating nature-themed, medieval style Black Metal bound to pagan roots, focusing on the relation of man and nature in a regional context. And this excellent project, hailing from Paderborn, a city in eastern North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, has been extremely successful in its journey, delivering high-end extreme music always with a meaningful concept behind it and always singing in its mother tongue German. Now, in the beginning of 2017, we have Horn’s seventh studio album, the folk, dynamic opus Turm Am Hang.

Inspired by the classic German folk song “Es ist ein Schnitter”, from the 17th century, as well as lansquenets (a gambling game of German origin), wars of the past, tribalism and the spirit of masculinity, Turm Am Hang will stimulate your most primeval senses with its distinctive ambience and powerful music. Furthermore, the artwork, layout and visual concept, all brought forth by German illustrator Timon Kokott, perfectly visualize the album’s combined musical and lyrical themes, complementing the already thrilling experience of listening to the music crafted by Nerrath.

After a pleasant folk intro in the opening track, titled Alles in einem Schnitt (which would translate as “everything in one cut”), Nerrath offers us his thrilling Black Metal with Folk and Pagan Metal elements, all sung in German as aforementioned to make things even more aggressive, not to mention the uniqueness of his tribal and stylish guitar lines. The title-track Turm am Hang (“tower on slope”) also begins in a serene way, again exploding into what can be called Blackened Folk Metal, with Nerrath blasting his enraged growls, potent beats and blazing, rhythmic riffs; followed by Verhallend in Landstrichen (“ranging in landscapes”), with the folk elements in the background adding a lot of epicness to the musicality together with its menacing drums. Furthermore, simply close your eyes and you will be able to feel all the energy flowing from the folkloristic sounds generated by Nerrath in this brilliant composition.

primarA song with an impactful name like Die mit dem Bogen auf dem Kreuz (“the one with the bow on the cross”) couldn’t sound less amazing than this, with its somber intro being gradually joined by guitars until all becomes an Extreme Metal extravaganza, perfect for drinking a few pints of beer together with your friends. Ä(h)renschnitter (“spices”) kicks off at full speed, with Nerrath going berserk with his fast-paced beats and riffs while powerfully vociferating the song’s lyrics at the same time. Moreover, hints of old school German Punk Rock are a very welcome addition to the overall musicality, enhancing the song’s effectiveness. And in Totenräumer (“Mortimer”), a fantastic fast-paced creation by Nerrath, our one-man army is startling on vocals, giving life to the song’s epic lyrics. Leaning towards sheer Pagan Metal, it never slows down, keeping the listener fully entertained from start to finish.

The eerie instrumental Lanz und Spieß (“lance and spear”) works as an intro for Bastion, im Seegang tauber Fels (“bastion, in the sea of deaf rock”), a voyage through the realms of experimental and atmospheric extreme music, bringing forward elements of Black and Pagan Metal with an obscure rhythm. Ad lastly, as a “bonus” Nerrath offers the listener his excellent version for The Sky Has Not Always Been This Way, a melancholic and introspective journey of ambient music by American Ambient Black Metal band When Bitter Spring Sleeps, from their 2013 album Coven of the Wolves. Not only this is the only song in English in the album, but it also features guest vocals by American Lord Sardonyx, the mastermind behind When Bitter Spring Sleeps himself.

In order to enjoy everything Nerrath and his amazing project Horn have to offer, simply follow his steps on Facebook, and go to Horn’s BandCamp page or Big Cartel to grab your copy of Turm am Hang. As mentioned before, the experience of listening to an album by Horn is beyond unique, connecting you to the pagan and tribal origins of man and embraced all the time by superior metal music. As this is always the main goal of ambient and experimental extreme music, I must say Turm am Hang triumphs brilliantly hands down.

Best moments of the album: Alles in einem Schnitt, Verhallend in Landstrichen and Totenräumer.

Worst moments of the album: Bastion, im Seegang tauber Fels.

Released in 2017 Iron Bonehead/Northern Silence Productions

Track listing
1. Alles in einem Schnitt 5:42
2. Turm am Hang 5:09
3. Verhallend in Landstrichen 5:10
4. Die mit dem Bogen auf dem Kreuz 5:00
5. Ä(h)renschnitter 5:35
6. Totenräumer 5:34
7. Lanz und Spieß 2:09
8. Bastion, im Seegang tauber Fels 4:44
9. The Sky Has Not Always Been This Way (When Bitter Spring Sleeps cover) 8:12

Band members
Nerrath – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
Lord Sardonyx – additional vocals on “The Sky Has Not Always Been This Way”

Album Review – Atonismen / Wise Wise Man EP (2016)

Enjoy a feast of dark, symphonic and dense metal music, crafted by a talented Russian multi-instrumentalist and his loyal and dynamic duo of guitarists.

Rating4

coverOriented in Dark Metal on one side and chamber music on another, Russian metallers Atonismen will surprise you with the density, professionalism and comprehensiveness of their music. Formed earlier this year by Russian singer and multi-instrumentalist Alexander Orso in the charming and historical city of Saint Petersburg, Atonismen fire a precise amalgamation of the darkest elements from Doom and Gothic Metal with choir-like sounds and an epic atmosphere surrounding everything in their debut EP, titled Wise Wise Man, offering the listener a unique experience in heavy music and a journey through the realms of Symphonic Metal.

The high level of professionalism in Wise Wise Man can be noticed not only through the amazing skills of Alexander and his crew, but also on the overall production of the album, very crisp and full of layers thanks to the top-notch job done by Russian musician Sergey “Lazar” Atrashkevich (Arkona), who produced, recorded, mixed and mastered the EP at CDM Records. And the band is already reaping the rewards of such dedication to their music, supporting renowned bands such as The 69 Eyes, Sonic Syndicate and Graveworm in Moscow, and joining the tour of well-known Russian folk band Izmoroz in their homeland. After taking a good listen at the eight distinct tracks of Wise Wise Man, you’ll see they more than deserve that recent but amazing success.

In the excellent Almagest, an atmospheric intro explodes intro bold Symphonic Metal with hints of Black and Pagan Metal added to  increase its epicness, with keyboards and drums leading this electric tune while Mr. Orso blasts his strong and powerful voice perfect for this type of music. Their Dark Metal vein gets stronger in the mesmerizing composition Sorry, where guitarists Alexander Senyushin and Child Catherine beautifully add the word “metal” to it through their potent and aggressive riffs. Furthermore, Mr. Orso is a wrecking machine on drums, delivering exactly what heavy and atmospheric metal music needs to be great. My Tale brings forward a beautiful dose of melancholy to the album, with Mr. Orso also thriving with his passionate clean vocals while a dark ambience embraces the listener in this lovable power ballad, not to mention the potency provided by the astounding guest choir Silver Voice.

atonismenThe title-track Wise Wise Man is a full-bodied Dark Metal song the likes of Moonspell with vicious guitar lines by the stunning Child Catherine and the competent Alexander Senyushin, again with keyboard notes bringing more mystery to the musicality; whereas Wiegenlied, the German word for “lullaby”, is a somber ballad full of traditional folk elements and an eerie rhythm that enfolds the listener before a sonic havoc named In Timeless Clamor comes crushing mercilessly. The metallic bass lines by Mr. Orso and the flammable riffs by the band’s guitar duo are amazingly heavy, sounding almost like sheer Black Metal at times, with vocals reminding me of the iconic Fernando Ribeiro thanks to their passion and violence. And I’m not sure if the last two songs can be considered bonus tracks or not, but we’re treated to two alternative versions for the title-track “Wise Wise Man”. The dark mix is very electronic and could easily be part of the soundtrack of a movie or played at a Halloween party, while the industrial mix is an upbeat and thrilling blend of heavy and electronic music, another perfect choice for providing a horror flick an extra touch of wickedness.

Enjoying and supporting the symphonic and extreme creations of Atonismen is quite easy, as all you have to do is visit their Facebook, VKontakte, YouTube channel and SoundCloud, as well as buy your copy of Wise Wise Man at their official BandCamp page. This feast of dense and symphonic Extreme Metal, beautifully engendered by Mr. Orso and his loyal guitar duo, was made to be relished and admired by all fans of the dark side of music, cementing a very promising start in their career in Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the album: Sorry and Wise Wise Man.

Worst moments of the album: Wiegenlied.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Almagest 7:31
2. Sorry 7:21
3. My Tale 8:51
4. Wise Wise Man 5:29
5. Wiegenlied 3:50
6. In Timeless Clamor 5:13
7. Wise Wise Man (dark mix) 5:51
8. Wise Wise Man (industrial mix) 5:30

Band members
Alexander Orso – all instruments, vocals
Alexander Senyushin – guitars
Child Catherine – guitars

Album Review – Thrawsunblat / Metachthonia (2016)

Welcome to Metachthonia, the electric and modern world crafted by an amazing Folk and Melodic Black Metal band from Canada.

Rating4

CDI101_1P_insert.epsMetachthonia:
(meh-tah-KTHOH-nee-ah) n. [< A.Grk meta- ‘after’ + chthoni- (stem of chthon ‘earth’ + -ios adj. suffix) + -a;]
1. the epoch after the age of the earth; this current electric age.

Dear metalheads from all over the world, welcome to Metachthonia, the brand new concept album by Canadian Folk/Melodic Black Metal act Thrawsunblat. Metachthonia is ancient Greek for “the age after that of the Earth”, referring to today’s modern world where we find ourselves under fluorescent light more often than sunlight, and so yearn for the natural world. Firing a unique blend of Folk and Black Metal inspired by bands such as Amon Amarth, Borknagar and Ensiferum, being even labeled as “Folkened Black Metal”, this extremely talented band from the city of Fredericton, the capital of the province of New Brunswick, puts no limits to their creations, offering the listener an eccentric and fresh version of extreme music that will captivate you from start to finish.

Formed in 2009 by multi-instrumentalist Joel Violette (ex-guitarist for Woods of Ypres) as a side project together with David Gold, the lead singer and drummer for Woods of Ypres, and having released their debut album named Canada 2010 that same year, Thrawsunblat became Joel’s main band following David’s tragic death in December 2011 as a result of an automobile accident. In 2013, the band released their second album, entitled Thrawsunblat II: Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings, already featuring Brendan Hayter on bass and Rae Amitay on drums, as well as fiddler Jeff Mott (and obviously Joel), presenting a more complex side of their music. Now in Metachthonia (which by the way has each one of its songs divided in three parts as you can see HERE), not only Jeff and his fiddle were replaced by cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne, but the band also decided to venture through darker paths, sounding more blackened than before and, therefore, more intense and thrilling.

The 11-minute hymn Fires That Light the Earth is a beautiful start to the album. Although the strong sound of the cello is very captivating, it’s when the music explodes into the “Folkened Black Metal” proposed by the band, with Rae setting fire to the music with his bestial beats while Joel is anger incarnate, that the journey truly takes off. In addition, the clean vocals add epicness to the musicality, with the guitar lines by Joel and the bass lines by Brendan creating an ocean of sounds and vibrations. When the smoother and more melodic She Who Names the Stars begins, Joel and his crew are waiting for the listener at Metachtonia with arms wide open (“All you, welcome to Metachthonia. / It’s like the rustle of leaf to ground against the industrial sound. / All you, welcome to Metachthonia. / It’s like the sun on your skin while the diodes draw you in.”), with the cello by Raphael providing a good balance with Rae’s furious drumming. The music flows flawlessly throughout the almost ten minutes of the song, arising all types of emotions until its harmonious ending.

thrawsunblat logoIn Dead of Winter, a short choir-like intro morphs into sheer madness, a Blackened Folk Metal feast where Joel and Rae steal the spotlight with their awesome harsh growls/clean vocals alternation and infernal beats, respectively. It’s interesting how they prepare the listener for the sudden eruptions of Extreme Metal, with acoustic folk sounds bursting into an avalanche of blackened music. Hypochthonic Remnants is more violent and visceral than all previous tracks, mainly due to the thunderous guitar lines by Joel, enhanced by the song’s endless progressiveness and the hints of traditional Heavy Metal and even Power Metal added to its main riff. Furthermore, its second part is a solid blend of the Folk Metal by Ensiferum with the darkened sonority of Borknagar and Old Man’s Child, which then flows into an melancholic acoustic ending.

Tribal drums ignite another obscure voyage of progressive folk music named Rivers of Underthought, the least violent of all songs where the unique sound of the cello by Raphael yet again adds a lot of beauty to the overall result. It’s a lot more inclined to the harmony of Folk and Pagan Metal than to the savagery of Extreme Metal, all embraced by a strong progressive ambience during the song’s almost nine minutes. And finally, In Mist We Walk kicks off in devastation mode, with the sound of the guitar by Joel together with the galloping bass lines by Brendan not leaving a single space empty in the music. Its second piece is pure high-octane Pagan Metal with atmospheric and acoustic passages, whereas its third part is made for enjoying the excellence of its lyrics (“I walk the banks of the stream of electric thought. / I cross to the warmth of where I once was. / I look down to see a sixfold flame in hand. / Sing me the dark songs of Chthonia. / Sing life immense in passion and pulse.”).

The fantastic concept of Metachthonia can be explored in more detail at the band’s official Facebook page, and if you want to provide your full support to such a distinct band you can purchase the album (which can be relished in its entirety HERE) at their BandCamp page. The electric and modern world of Metachthonia presented by Thrawsunblat might seem really dangerous at times, but we must admit it’s a lot easier to face any type of challenge or fear when the music behind it is as awesome as what’s found in this classy  and multilayered album.

Best moments of the album: Fires That Light the Earth and Dead of Winter.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Ignifera Records/Broken Limbs

Track listing
1. Fires That Light the Earth 11:01
2. She Who Names the Stars 9:33
3. Dead of Winter 9:50
4. Hypochthonic Remnants 8:32
5. Rivers of Underthought 8:56
6. In Mist We Walk 11:56

Band members
Joel Violette – vocals, guitars
Brendan Hayter – bass
Raphael Weinroth-Browne – cello
Rae Amitay – drums, additional vocals on “Dead of Winter”

Album Review – Winterhymn / Blood & Shadow (2016)

If your fearless heart claims for top-notch Epic Folk Metal, you’ll definitely enjoy this excellent compilation of songs perfect for your mead-drinking and mud-fighting parties.

Rating4

Blood&Shadow_FrontAlthough I couldn’t see Pagan/Folk Metal squad Winterhymn kicking ass live during Paganfest America Part V here in Toronto in 2014 due to traffic issues (as you can read HERE), I went after their music to get to know more about this American sextet, and let me tell you I was impressed with the energy, passion and creativity flowing from their symphonic and progressive compositions. With that said, I guess I don’t need to mention how excited I got when I received their brand new album for review, the melodious Blood & Shadow, right?

Since their inception in 2009, these folk metallers from Cincinnati, Ohio have been bringing the epicness of Celtic and Scandinavian Folk sounds to the United States, starting with their 2011 debut album Songs for the Slain until this year’s Blood & Shadow, also sharing the stage with renowned names like Eluveitie, Turisas, Chthonic, Arkona and many others. Featuring a beautiful and sanguinary artwork by Irish artist Vasilis Zikos, reflecting a scene from Winterhymn’s personal mythos (which the album is entirely based upon), Blood & Shadow is the soundtrack for drinking lots of mead and getting in random fights in the mud around a bonfire, all embraced by the undeniable talent of four brave lads and two stunning maidens.

Blending elements from Folk and Black Metal with hints of Power Metal, the melodic battle chant Blood of the Moon kicks off the album on a high note by bringing forward a very epic rhythm with highlights to the mesmerizing sound by violinist Umbriel, followed by Dream of Might, which leans towards pure Folk Metal. Albeit slower than the opening track, it still offers a high dosage of epicness, with the vocals by lead singer and guitarist Draug being perfectly complemented by the pounding drums by Valthrun and the once again incredible violin sounds by Umbriel. And the outstanding Pagan Metal composition Blood Burner is one of those songs tailored for fans of vicious battle chants who love to slam into the circle pit with a pint of cold beer in hand, with Draug and Varrik providing some exciting riffs and solos while Valthrun doesn’t let the amazing energy in the music go down.

Less violent and with a more progressive flow (but still very impactful), Legacy in Flames offers lyrics about the everyday life of a warrior nicely declaimed by Draug and bassist Alvadar (“We hunt our prey / With our last breath / By the sanguine moon / Through realms of death / So curse our name / You’ll be slaughtered all the same / Your legacy in flames”), with its last part being highly recommended for prancing around a fire pit with a pint of mead; whereas The Summoning displays a higher focus on Death Metal guttural vocals while instrumental is purely Folk Metal, a good balance that works well for a while but that unfortunately falls flat close to the end of it. Seafarer, a “Middle Earth-inspired song”, is a semi-acoustic ballad where violin and acoustic guitars generate the perfect atmosphere for Draug and his clean vocals, a soulful break from the band’s traditional battle hymns before Silenced by the Northern Winds gets back to brutal folk music with Draug leading the band’s onrush with his imposing growls, boosted by an excellent guitar solo to properly conclude this thrilling tune.

zGroup (22)In Shadow We Ride, another classic Folk Metal tune by Winterhymn, offers the listener slower beats and a fighting vibe, with its second half getting slightly heavier and, consequently, adding some extra flavor to the overall result (especially the potent bass lines by Alvadar). And in Huntsman, a serene intro morphs into brutal Pagan Metal, with its lyrics being everything a fan of this type of music loves (“They marched across the Iron Jaw with sword and helm / Seeking fabled woodland doorways to the twilight realms / The proudest of their captains are now hunted like boars / Their banners lie in gory pools upon the forest floor”). Moreover, all instruments sound potent and sharp, accrediting it to be one of the best songs of the new album for their live performances.

The final triad of Folk Metal in Blood & Shadow begins with the electrifying The Wolf’s Head, where Death and Power Metal elements arise. The song’s riffs and solos, together with the precise drumming by Valthrun, set the music on fire, with both guttural and clean vocals and the background sonority crafted by Umbriel and Exura on violin and keyboards, respectively, being absolutely outstanding. Into the Depths shows the whole band still has enough fuel for more Epic Pagan Metal, which after a solid intro gets heavier than almost everything from the album, not to mention the heroic singing by Draug. And lastly, Umbriel dictates the rhythm through her fast and melodious violin in The Chosen End, where all band members unite to provide the listener a full-bodied composition overflowing courage, passion and pain, a climatic ending for such a professional album.

If your courageous heart claims for top-notch Epic Folk Metal, go check Winterhymn’s Facebook page, as well as their YouTube channel and ReverbNation page, and don’t forget to buy their new album at the SoundAge Productions’ webstore, at the band’s BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon. As aforementioned, there’s no better way to get drunk with mead and engage into mud-fighting than to the sound of such an amazing band like Winterhymn.

Best moments of the album: Blood Burner, Silenced by the Northern Winds and The Wolf’s Head.

Worst moments of the album: The Summoning.

Released in 2016 SoundAge Productions

Track listing
1. Blood of the Moon 3:48
2. Dream of Might 3:59
3. Blood Burner 3:19
4. Legacy in Flames 4:51
5. The Summoning 4:12
6. Seafarer 3:20
7. Silenced by the Northern Winds 6:53
8. In Shadow We Ride 4:47
9. Huntsman 5:23
10. The Wolf’s Head 3:39
11. Into the Depths 6:25
12. The Chosen End 4:31

Band members
Draug – vocals, lead guitar
Varrik – guitar
Alvadar – bass, backing vocals
Exura – keyboards
Umbriel – violin
Valthrun – drums

Album Review – Vindland / Hanter Savet (2016)

Directly from the French region of Britanny, here comes a Black and Viking Metal power trio that effectively knows how to blend aggressiveness, history and culture into extreme music.

Rating4

Vindland-Hanter-Savet2016Breton, the old native Celtic language spoken in Brittany, a cultural region in the north-west of France that became an independent kingdom and then a duchy before being united with the Kingdom of France in 1532, also referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain (as opposed to Great Britain), might not be the most commonly used language anymore by the Bretons, but it still plays an important role in this distinct region of France. One of the most interesting usages of Breton in modern days is undoubtedly in music and arts, like what you’ll find in Hanter Savet, the brand new album by Black/Viking Metal power trio Vindland.

The lyrics, song titles and even the album title are all written in Breton, showing how much this talented band based in the city of Paimpol is connected to their roots, therefore making the whole album more organic and heartfelt. The band was formed in 2004 and, after releasing a demo, an EP and after playing a few concerts, the band split up. In 2010, however, the band was reformed and started working on what would be Hanter Savet, and based on the potency of the music found throughout the entire album I believe this time Vindland are here to stay, delivering a well-balanced mix of the brutality found in Black Metal with the epicness and emotions of Viking and Folk Metal. Although you might not understand a single word sung by the band, I’m pretty sure you’ll have a good time listening to this Breton opus.

The aforementioned aggression of Black Metal and the burning passion of Viking Metal are already united in the opening track, named Orin Kozh. The voice by frontman Romuald is that type of devilish and strident growl perfect for extreme music, supported by a musicality that’s always evolving through time due to all tempo changes without sounding tiresome or being too lengthy in duration. Treuzwelus continues the attack from where the first song ended, presenting several Folk and Pagan Metal elements in a very creative form, with Marc being precise and energetic on drums and, consequently, providing all support Romuald and Camille need for their vocals and galloping riffs, respectively. And Serr-Noz brings forward a melodic atmosphere that captures the listener’s mind and takes him on an epic Black Metal journey, with Camille discharging a high level of excitement due to his amazing guitar lines. Moreover, its magic aura only grows in intensity as the music progresses, with innumerous elements from all types of music added as a “bonus” to the listener in the background.

vindland-bandIn Pedenn Koll, its smooth intro works as “the calm before the storm” of Melodic Black Metal that suddenly arrives, with highlights to its infernal growls contrasting with the harmony built by the guitars and to another outstanding performance by Marc on drums; while in Skleur Dallus the heavier riffs by Camille, which sound a lot closer to traditional Heavy Metal, ignite this rhythmic Pagan Metal hymn. Furthermore, the music only keeps expanding its boundaries until it embraces you completely, with even its serene breaks having a lot of energy flowing. The high-end Folk Metal composition Morlusenn displays a characteristic sonority from Scandinavian music, but with the band’s own French touch, and despite focusing a lot more on its instrumental parts it’s important to say the anguished growls by Romuald sound truly amazing and are exactly what the music needed.

The band’s versatility becomes evident in Skorneg Du, as they mutate from Folk Metal to pure old school Black Metal with Viking Metal elements in a 7-minute battle chant that lives up to the tradition of the Norsemen, as well as in Skeud Ar Gwez, an epic 11-minute aria that starts in a very progressive and atmospheric form that lasts for over three minutes until it explodes into a feast of Extreme Metal. Albeit technical and professionally composed, in my opinion the music takes too long to take off, and maybe a shorter version of it in a similar format as all other songs would have been a lot more effective. And closing the album we have the bonus track And The Battle Ended, a re-recording of the original song from their 2009 EP named Ancestors’ Age, still containing the brutality and harmony of the original version but with an updated sonority following the band’s current approach.

In summary, the region of Britanny couldn’t be in better hands in terms of heavy music than with this excellent power trio, and Hanter Savet is a very good example of how history, culture and aggressiveness always work really well when combined in music and arts in general. If you want to know more about Vindland, go check their Facebook page and YouTube channel, where you can also listen to Hanter Savet in its entirety, and if you want to purchase the aubm simply visit the Black Lion Productions’ BandCamp or Big Cartel.

Best moments of the album: Treuzwelus, Serr-Noz and Skleur Dallus.

Worst moments of the album: Skeud Ar Gwez.

Released in 2016 Black Lion Productions

Track listing
1. Orin Kozh 4:32
2. Treuzwelus 6:20
3. Serr-Noz 5:55
4. Pedenn Koll 4:39
5. Skleur Dallus 4:59
6. Morlusenn 4:58
7. Skorneg Du 7:06
8. Skeud Ar Gwez 11:30

Bonus track
9. And The Battle Ended (2016 Version) 5:37

Band members
Romuald – vocals
Camille – guitars, bass
Marc – drums

Album Review – Wolfhorde / Towards The Gates Of North (2016)

To the sound of the high-quality Folk Metal cast by this talented horde of roaring wolves, we shall travel towards the gates of North.

Rating5

Wolfhorde_-_Towards_The_Gates_of_North640Get ready for a breathtaking journey through the realms of Viking mythology, an expedition from the beginning of the end to the beginning of a new world, also called as the North beyond the gates. Unspoiled by the reach of men, it served as the inspiration for Finnish Folk Metal band Wolfhorde in their first full-length album, beautifully entitled Towards The Gates Of North, a chaotic combination of opposites that will guide you across the northern landscapes together with this talented heathen horde.

Hailing from the city of Keuruu, Finland, around 300km north of the capital Helsinki, this power-trio incorporates heaviness, melancholy, joy, dynamism and history all at once in their music, offering fans of the genre a legit multitude of Norse hymns perfect for sharing a beer with your loved ones and get into the circle pit with your closest friends. The album art in Towards The Gates of North, designed by pnkfdARTS, shows the path we need to follow. It’s just a matter of hitting play now and joining these talented Vikings in their quest for the new world.

Vegvísir, the Icelandic word for a magical stave intended to help its bearer find his way through rough weather, appears in the album as an acoustic folk song warning that the journey is about to begin, before Fimbulvetr comes storming with its electrifying Folk atmosphere and bitterly cold lyrics (“This snowfall, lasted for days / I smell it in the air / Already the blood has been spilt / with frost arrived the fear”). In Norse mythology, this is the immediate prelude to the events of Ragnarök, meaning “Mighty Winter”, a perfect way to get fully immersed in the storyline put forward by the band.

Wolfhorde_-_PromopicIn Taivaankappaleiden Kato (which should translate from Finnish as “celestial roofs” or “celestial ceilings”), multi-instrumentalist Werihukka does an amazing job putting his Viking soul into each instrument played, while lead singer Hukkapätkä sends a message of pain and sadness through his harsh screams. Following that high-end Folk Metal tune, we have the fiery chant Death Long-Due, perfect for singing and prancing around the fire pit thanks to a great performance by Hukkapätkä on both vocals and drums. Besides, there are so many different instruments and elements accurately added to this metallic composition it’s hard to pick just one as its main driver. And accelerating things a bit, The Retribution is another solid tune that blends the best of Folk and Pagan Metal, and I’m sure it will generate some nice circle pits during their live performances.

Lovers of traditional Folk Metal will have tons of fun with Unyielding, an uncompromised song where, just when you think it’s going to slow down or lose some of its grip, all band members smash their instruments creating an amazing fighting atmosphere. But it’s in Boundless Agony that Wolfhorde step up their game by incorporating elements of Death Metal to their music, which end up elevating the song’s fierceness, and by presenting an inspired Werihukka guiding the music especially through his excellent guitar solos, while bassist Nuoskajalka effectively supports all his intricate work. In the brutal and melodic kick-ass tune Lycomania, a form of insanity in which a person imagines himself to be a wolf, the whole band speeds up the rhythm and goes absolutely mental, turning this into the best moment of the album in my opinion. And The Gates of North, their most epic tune and also the longest in duration, works as an exciting conclusion to their excruciating quest. A lot more symphonic and rhythmic than all previous songs, this chant sounds like a heavy torment, exhaling sorrow and agony until it reaches its climatic ending.

It’s easy to join Wolfhorde in their pursuit of a new world. Simply grab your Vegvísir, visit their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and grab your copy of Towards The Gates Of North at their BandCamp page or at the Inverse Records webstore. To the sound of the high-quality Folk Metal cast in the land of ice and snow by this talented horde of roaring wolves, we shall travel towards the gates of North.

Best moments of the album: Death Long-Due, Boundless Agony and Lycomania.

Worst moments of the album: The Retribution.

Released in 2016 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Vegvísir 3:20
2. Fimbulvetr 6:32
3. Taivaankappaleiden Kato 4:00
4. Death Long-Due 4:52
5. The Retribution 3:32
6. Unyielding 4:18
7. Boundless Agony 4:56
8. Lycomania 3:52
9. The Gates of North 9:06

Band members
Hukkapätkä – vocals, drums
Werihukka – guitars, other instruments
Nuoskajalka – bass

Album Review – Vorna / Ei Valo Minua Seuraa (2015)

A stunning expedition through the depths of human mind, crafted by proficient Finnish metallers whom no light follows.

Rating3

vorna_cover640As I stated earlier this year in the review for the self-titled debut album by Stoner/Progressive Metal band Sata Kaskelottia, and also in the review for the 2005 classic Metallitotuus, by Power Metal band Teräsbetoni, anytime I receive material from a band from the land of ice and snow that’s sung in their mother tongue I get quite excited about what I’m about to listen to. It couldn’t be any different with Finnish Black/Pagan Metal orchestra Vorna (named after a character from the Finnish folklore), who have just release their second full-length album, an incredible full-bodied expedition through the depths of human mind entitled Ei Valo Minua Seuraa (or “No Light Follows Me”, in English).

Dealing with themes like nature, myths and struggles of mind, this ascendant six-piece group formed in 2008 in Tampere, Finland are an exquisite treat for all fans of Black, Pagan and Folk Metal, and their new album will blow your mind no matter how much you love (or even hate) those subgenres of metal music. From its minimalistic and gorgeous artwork, designed by Jarno Lahti (KAAMOS Illustration & Design Studio), to its intricate passages and somber atmosphere, Ei Valo Minua Seuraa offers all metalheads a memorable feast of darkness, all spiced up by the uniqueness of the Finnish language, of course.

The name chosen for the album is already legitimated by its opening track, the pleasant and dark Harmaudesta (“Away from Grey”), where the orchestrations blend perfectly with the harsh vocals by Vesa Salovaara, while the obscure keyboard notes by Saku Myyryläinen, together with the precise drumming by Mikael Vanninen, boost the song’s impact significantly. In Jälkemme (“Heritage”), a sense of epicness emanates through its soaring ambience, inducing a strong feeling that the battle is about to begin. In addition to that, Arttu Järvisalo and Henri Lammintausta do an excellent job with their flaming guitars by adding elements of Black and Viking Metal to their riffs.

vorna_promophoto_2015Their symphony of darkness goes on with a fusion of Melodic Black Metal and the band’s core Pagan Metal in Itsetön (“Soul Shriven”), a hellish waltz flawlessly crafted by the entire band until everything morphs into a melancholic ending; whereas Sieluni Varjossa (“In the Nightside of Self”) presents a sharper sonority thanks to the beats by Mikael and to the solid and resonant bass lines by Niilo Könönen. Moreover, the second half of the song is pure obscurity, perfect for afflicting your soul before the serene Vaipunut (“Of Life Descended”) arises full of melancholy and sorrow. It’s almost like a Dark Metal ballad, very interesting and gripping, showcasing the band’s versatility and Vesa’s clean vocals, which sound as powerful as his guttural.

All that sorrow keeps flowing in the amazing Yksin (“Alone”), with Saku leading Vorna’s metallic orchestra while Arttu and Henri continue to darken the music with their riffs, turning this song not only into the best of all tracks but, more important than that, into a beautiful aria of solitude, fear and sadness. And Vorna lead the listener to one final fight in Hiljaiset Rauniot (“Silent Ruins”), an emotive and razor-sharp chant with an inspiring intro and atmospheric keyboards, and where you can feel death is imminent through both the growls and clean vocals by Vesa, efficiently ending such a distinct album.

This proficient Finnish orchestra can be reached at their official Facebook page and YouTube channel, and their Stygian concerto Ei Valo Minua Seuraa can be purchased through the Inverse Store, Record Shop X or CDON.COM. Indeed no light follows Vorna, but that doesn’t mean their music is dull or unreverberant. Quite the contrary, Ei Valo Minua Seuraa is doubtless one of the brightest releases of the year.

Best moments of the album: Jälkemme, Vaipunut and Yksin.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Harmaudesta 3:57
2. Jälkemme 7:37
3. Itsetön 8:07
4. Sieluni Varjossa 6:58
5. Vaipunut 3:47
6. Yksin 6:40
7. Hiljaiset Rauniot 8:48

Band members
Vesa Salovaara – vocals
Arttu Järvisalo – guitars
Henri Lammintausta – guitars
Niilo Könönen – bass
Saku Myyryläinen – keyboards
Mikael Vanninen – drums

Album Review – Fjorsvartnir / Mzoraxc’ Forbandelse (2015)

Loyal to the foundations of Black Metal, this talented one-man army from Denmark offers an action-packed album that, above all things, sounds fresh and unique at all times.

Rating4

FJORSVARTNIR - 'Mzoraxc' Forbandelse' , front cover 2015Fans of Scandinavian mythology, Vikings, battles, drinking and atmospheric extreme music, behold the brand new opus by Danish Melodic/Pagan Black Metal one-man army Fjorsvartnir, the excellent Mzoraxc’ Forbandelse, or “Mzoraxc’ Curse” in English. Not only the album took three years to be concluded, but it’s also the first of the band’s three full-length releases to be fully in Danish, and by that you can imagine how organic it sounds and how connected to the themes proposed the music is.

Founded in 2007 in the stunning city of Copenhagen, Denmark by multi-instrumentalist Fjorgynn (who’s supported by three other musicians when it’s time to materialize his music during the band’s live performances), the music by Fjorsvartnir can be at the same time a demonic onslaught and a melodic aria of melancholy, depending on the topic chosen by Fjorgynn when composing his songs. If this is not enough to show you the depth of Fjorsvartnir’s music, maybe the explanation for the name of the band can help you understand that. Fjorsvartnir is another name for Rimfaxe, the black horse that runs over the sky carrying the moon in its chariot, driven by a giant woman named Nat. With that said, are you ready for battle now?

Pagan and nature elements kick off the opening chant, entitled Ravneskrig Og Ulvehyl (“The Raven Scream And The Wolf Howl”), which after a brief acoustic intro becomes a powerful and symphonic exhibit of Scandinavian Black Metal. In addition, it’s impressive how Fjorgynn is capable of crafting such organic and imposing music all by himself, where not only his vocals sound truly demonic but his riffs are also exactly what good extreme music demands. The following tune, Nordens Genopstandelse (“Nordic Resurrection”), is more inclined to traditional Black Metal, with the incorporation of symphonic elements in the background creating a beautiful melody that supports the sonic havoc presented from start to finish. Besides, Fjorgynn delivers desperate vocals mixed with deeper guttural growls, sounding violent and harmonious at the same time.

Embraced by a very solid instrumental, Fjorsvartnir offer us an epic and ominous tune forged in the fires of hell named En Rejse Igennem Fortidens Riger (“A Journey Through Past Kingdoms”), where its keyboards act like a melancholic ray of light in the middle of all the darkness generated by the other instruments, reminding me of some old songs by Dimmu Borgir. Moreover, its last part feels like an ode to anguish, only making it even more enjoyable to fans of Black and Doom Metal. The Viking/Pagan instrumental tune Riget (“Empire”) is a pleasant surprise after so much despair, with Fjorgynn doing a superb job showing his music is more than just pure Black Metal, before Mzoraxc – Mødet Med Underverdenen (“Mzoraxc – Meeting With The Underworld”) rumbles the earth with a creepy intro and a somber rhythm led by its guitar riffs. It has those mesmerizing blast beats found in traditional Black Metal boosted by the harsh growls by Fjorgynn, and although I (unfortunately) do not speak Danish I’m absolutely sure the story told during the song is complex, intense and gripping.

FJORSVARTNIR - promo photo 2015Tailored for fans of complex Extreme Metal, Krigssat contains elements from the most obscure Black Metal from Norway, the more melodic lines from Sweden and the symphonic vibe found in bands from Norway, Finland and the UK, with the gentle and operatic female vocals being a welcome touch of beauty to the song, followed by Det Sidste Slag (“The Last Battle”), a highly recommended soundtrack for an epic battle. I love how the song keeps changing its rhythm and emotions; for instance, you can enjoy sheer brutality through its sick blast beats or feel enfolded by its ominous passages, as there’s excellence for all types of extreme music fans (especially if you are a true black metaller, you’ll go crazy with this incredible composition). Once again, Fjorgynn sounds like a demon incarnate on vocals, which only adds more wickedness to the song. And to properly wrap things up, the melancholic outro Valkyrie provides the listener the sensation of a sorrowful aftermath in a precise and passionate way.

Fjorsvartnir, the Norse creation by the talented Fjorgynn, can be reached through their Facebook page, YouTube channel and ReverbNation, and the energetic Mzoraxc’ Forbandelse can be purchased at the band’s official BandCamp page. Loyal to the foundations of Black Metal, Fjorsvartnir created an action-packed album that, above all things, sounds fresh and unique at all times, even amidst so many other extreme music bands available worldwide.

Best moments of the album: Ravneskrig Og Ulvehyl, Nordens Genopstandelse and Det Sidste Slag.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Grom Records

Track listing
1.Ravneskrig Og Ulvehyl 6:35
2.Nordens Genopstandelse 6:52
3.En Rejse Igennem Fortidens Riger 8:42
4.Riget 2:40
5.Mzoraxc – Mødet Med Underverdenen 6:42
6.Krigssat 6:20
7.Det Sidste Slag 7:48
8.Valkyrie 2:00

Band members
Fjorgynn – vocals, all instruments

Live
Fjorgynn – vocals, lead & rhythm guitar
Helgarm – lead & rhythm guitar
Onslaughter – keyboards
Arent – drums

Concert Review – Paganfest America Part V (The Opera House,Toronto, ON, 05/01/2014)

An awesome multicultural festival in the world’s most multicultural city.

paganfest_2014Let me start by asking a very simple question before I actually talk about the amazing festival that happened last night: who the hell had the brilliant idea of scheduling a festival at SIX O’CLOCK ON A THURSDAY, a  day and time where pretty much EVERYONE is still at work and there’s also a lot of traffic? Because of that, I guess many people that attended PAGANFEST AMERICA PART V yesterday at The Opera House, in Toronto, missed at least the opening act, American Folk Metal band Winterhymn, and maybe even some of the other bands. Fortunately I was able to get there before 7:30pm and could watch half of the concert from the following band and the rest of the festival, which is where this review starts!

VARG

01paganfest toronto_vargPeople dressed up accordingly (which means Viking, warrior and/or pagan costumes), corpsepainting, lots of good and cold beer, friends hugging each other and dancing together, metalheads screaming with their fists and horns in the air, and German Melodic Death Metal band Varg kickin’ ass on stage! The first impression from the festival was very positive, and knowing the Pagan Metal community in Toronto is so big was great for me. Not only that, getting in contact with Varg for the first time was also amazing as their music has that kind of energy I love, and although I don’t know German (they sing only in their mother tongue) it was easy to follow their message in each song. Highlights to the excellent song Guten Tag and to the girls the band called on stage to headbang like crazy, and I promise I’ll go after more of their material in the future.

Band members
Freki – vocals, guitars
Managarm – bass, backing vocals, guitars, lead guitars
Hati – guitars
Fenrier – drums

CHTHONIC

02paganfest toronto_chthonicA few microphone issues, a relatively short setlist and the absence of keyboardist CJ Kao didn’t prevent Taiwanese Orient Metal warriors Chthonic from delivering an unforgettable performance at The Opera House. “WE ARE CHTHONIC FROM TAIWAN!”, screamed an all fired-up Freddy Lim to the fans, who promptly responded screaming and raising their fists in the air. The band looked pretty excited to be back in Toronto for the first time since their tour with Arch Enemy in 2011, and their music sounded even more powerful and cohesive this time.

After the beautiful intro Arising Armament, our beloved Taiwanese icons Freddy, Jesse, Dani and, of course, the stunning Doris Yeh, kicked off their concert with the superb song Supreme Pain for the Tyrant, from their 2013 album Bú-Tik, and it was impossible not to scream at full force with them “Let me stand up like a Taiwanese! Only justice will bring you peace!”, lyrics that make total sense even for non-Taiwanese fans like myself. We’re all together in this war, right? By the way, almost the whole setlist was based on the Bú-Tik album, with the exception of the classics Oceanquake and Takao, which closed the show. Highlights to the great songs Sail Into the Sunset’s Fire and Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace, which sounded even more amazing live.

Last but not least, all band members are not only exceptional musicians, but also really good people. It’s easy to be mesmerized by Doris’ performance on stage, or by the unique sound of the erhu beautifully played by Freddy, but things get even better when you have a chance to interact with them offstage. Freddy, Doris and Jesse were extremely relaxed, happy and very, very considerate of all their fans, taking pictures, answering any questions and having a beer with everybody. At least for me, that explains a lot why they are so successful and becoming so important in the world of heavy music. All I can say is THANKS, CHTHONIC! It will always be my pleasure to “stand up like a Taiwanese” with you guys!

Setlist
1. Arising Armament (intro)
2. Supreme Pain for the Tyrant
3. Oceanquake
4. Next Republic
5. Sail Into the Sunset’s Fire
6. Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace
7. Takao 

Band members
Freddy Lim – vocals, erhu
Doris Yeh – bass, backing vocals
Jesse Liu – guitars, backing vocals
Dani Wang – drums
CJ Kao – keyboards*

* Missed the concert in Toronto due to personal issues.

TURISAS

03paganfest toronto_turisasIn my opinion, the show by Finnish Symphonic Power Metal band Turisas was the most anticipated concert of the night, and also the one where you could see the highest amount of smiles on the faces of the crowd. I don’t remember seeing so many people dancing and prancing like yesterday, especially when they played their cover version for the discotheque classic Rasputin, by Boney M., but they kicked ass during the whole gig, of course.

There were very few moments where either the songs were too long or too slow, but the fans didn’t care too much about that and enjoyed every single second of that “Viking fest”. Besides the awesome craziness of Rasputin, the most memorable songs were Battle Metal, Stand Up and Fight and We Ride Together. Did you notice all their best songs are related to battle, courage and loyalty? That’s what has always made Heavy Metal so powerful in regards to inspiring people to face their fears and challenges in life, and I’m sure all fans that are studying, working or doing anything else today are a lot happier and feeling better than during the previous weeks or even months.

The whole band was on fire, especially frontman Mathias “Warlord” Nygård and violinist Olli Vänskä, who didn’t stop banging their heads for a single moment. Those guys love what they do, and will keep on rockin’ for the rest of their lives without a shadow of a doubt.

Band members
Mathias Nygård – vocals
Jussi Wickström – guitar, backing vocal
Jesper Anastasiadis – bass guitar
Jaakko Jakku – drums, percussion
Olli Vänskä – violin, backing vocal

KORPIKLAANI

04paganfest toronto_korpiklaaniAfter Turisas were done, many people had to leave as it was getting really late and they probably had to get ready for a full day at work the next day. Unfortunately those who left missed all the dancing in between concerts when the DJ played some excellent old traditional Finnish songs, but the fans that could stay to the end of the festival were able to enjoy that and, of course, another “dance party” with Finnish Folk Metal band Korpiklaani and their music tailored for drinking beer and dancing with your friends.

It was my first Korpiklaani concert and I was impressed by frontman Jonne Järvelä’s charisma and bassist Jarkko Aaltonen’s technique. Jarkko is a beast with his bass, which could be easily appreciated in fun songs such as Tuonelan Tuvilla, Vodka and Ievan Polkka. How come this awesome bass player has never been mentioned in any lists of “top bassists” that I’ve seen? Or maybe I’m checking the wrong lists? Anyway, it was another great heavy music concert, which made every cent spent with the event ticket even worthier than before.

Band members
Jonne Järvelä – vocals
Kalle “Cane” Savijärvi – guitars
Matti “Matson” Johansson – drums
Jarkko Aaltonen – bass
Tuomas Rounakari – violin
Sami Perttula – accordion

And that was the end of a truly multicultural festival with bands from the United States, Germany, Taiwan and Finland, with fans from several different backgrounds speaking different languages, in the most multicultural city in the world. Honestly, I have no idea how it can get any better than this. Maybe Paganfest VI next year can answer that question, right? Well, until then, I’ll proudly wear my Chthonic’s NEXT REPUBLIC T-shirt on the streets to show everyone that it doesn’t matter if you’re Canadian, Brazilian, Taiwanese, German, Finnish or anything else: if you’re a headbanger, you’re definitely part of the unbreakable and unique republic of HEAVY METAL.

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