Raising the flag for viking metal
Although having been around for the better part of twelve years, and recording no less than five full-length albums for Dutch independent label Displeased Records, Swedish (Norrtälje based) Viking/melodic black metal act Månegarm is still relatively unknown to most. But with their recent signing to Black Lodge Records, and the recent release of their sixth full-length album Vargstenen (Which loosely translates to The Wolfstone, which is a concept album based the ancient Norse conception of the world, and is the follow up to 2006’s acoustic E.P. Urminnes Hävd - The Forest Sessions), Månegarm (A name derived from Mánagarmr, a wolf in Norse mythology) are sure to enjoy some overdue exposure outside of Europe.
The latest effort from Månegarm (Who comprise of vocalist/drummer Erik Grawsiö, guitarists Markus Andé and Jonas Almquist, bassist Pierre Wilhelmsson and violinist Janne Liljeqvist) doesn’t stray too far from the direction their last couple of full-length albums (2003’s Dödsfärd and 2005’s Vredens Tid) took, which is primarily a combination of Turisas, Ensiferum and Skyclad, with the lyrics sung entirely in Swedish.
After the slow building introduction of Uppvaknande, Ur Själslig Död gets the album off to a roaring start with a melodic death metal onslaught with some anthem like vocal lines from Grawsiö. But it’s around the halfway mark that the song takes a turn towards a gentler path, with female vocalist Umer Mossige-Norheim adding some delicate lines to an atmospheric backdrop, while the heavier En Fallen Fader again features Mossige-Norheim, along with flourishes of folk and violin (Which is actually used more of a lead instrument than the guitars at times) passages. Genom Världar Nio and the title track Vargstenen are perhaps as close as the album gets to straightforward melodic death metal sounds while still incorporating folk elements and clean aggressive sounding vocals, while the sweeping Visioner På Isen, I Underjorden and Vedergällningens Tid all feature a mix of traditional folk and metal.
Maintaining the feel of their last E.P. Urminnes Hävd - The Forest Sessions, the album boasts three acoustic tracks in Den Gamle Talar, Vargbrodern Talar and the album’s true stand out cut Eld (Which again features a stellar performance from Mossige-Norheim), all of which bring a healthy balance to the album between the heavy and the laid back. If you happen to be a fan of the current Viking/battle metal scene (Or the above mentioned acts for that matter), then I thoroughly recommend you check out Månegarm.
(Black Lodge Records/Sound Pollution Distribution/Riot! Distributors)