One of the longest standing Viking Metal bands out there are Swedish MÅNEGARM, having been around since 1995 already and “Vargstenen” (“Wolfstone”) is their fifth full-length album, continuing down the path they had carved for themselves with each of their releases so far. Looking at the reviews on TMO so far, I had to see that I am not on the map as far as MÅNEGARM go, so this shall rectify this injustice and with ultimate glee I do so!
And anybody, who had any doubts about the Swedes being among the best of the best out there, get those thoughts right out of your head, because “Vargstenen” is an incredible release, top to bottom, period! Even the intro “Uppvaknande” (“Awakening”) has this uplifting, gripping quality to it, before “Ur Själslig Död” (“From Soul Death”) kicks this album into motion, with a lot of rhythmic variety, irresistible melodies, excellent clear vocals by Erik Grawsjö, this is some strong stuff and it is just the beginning!
One of the elements that mark MÅNEGARM as different is the use of the violin of Janne Liljeqvist, which adds greatly to an already very variable mix, as in one of the other highlights (and don’t think that the songs that I don’t mention here are not great as well!) “Genom Världar Nio“ (“Through The Nine Worlds”), which also surprises with a quiet break. “I Underjorden“ stomps powerfully through the Swedish forests, again supported by the violin, accelerates into thundering double-bass and even throws in a violin solo for good measure, how can you not be moved by this is beyond me!
„Vargstenen“, the title track, offers everything from primordial power, incredible melodies, blastbeats, double-bass thunder, also some, I think, flute, this almost has something from SKYFORGER and that is one hell of a comparison! And “Eld“ at the end proves that MÅNEGARM do not always have to step flat on the pedal, but acoustic guitar, clear vocals, some rhythm and a little choir, a great way to end this album!
The lyrics are all in Swedish, but not the usual every day Swedish, because bassist Pierre Wilhelmsson is using a more archaic form of his native tongue, which goes very well with the flow of the songs.
Basically let me sum this up. You like Viking Metal? Then get “Vargstenen”, you have no excuse, this is cream of the crop!
(Online July 26, 2007)