For the fourth time now our colleague and “Metal Message” one-man army Markus Eck is back with a Folk/Viking/Pagan Metal compilation and among the 13 bands featured his time around there are a few pretty big names as well as up-and-comers. But let’s start at the beginning, the cover artwork, which once more features a wonderful piece of art, this time by our French friend JP Fournier, followed right suit by the CD label art, added by his Belgian colleague Kris Verwimp, so the visual side, as usual, is top notch.
Now the better known bands on this compilation are the Brits of FOREFATHER, the multinational endeavour of FOLKEARTH, Russian ALKONOST and Latvian Pagan Metal stalwarts SKYFORGER, but there also is young and lesser known talent to be found in the form of GJENFERDSEL, OAKENSHIELD, IRMINSUL or SLARTIBARTFASS, so there is variety there as well as in the musical approach of the different bands and projects. Some stand closer to Black Metal, while others take a more Folky approach or are somewhere in between.
I will concentrate on the highlights of the CD (which is not supposed to mean that tracks not mentioned are of lesser quality or filler material), beginning with my personal favourite: THARAPHITA’s “Lidsetel Sünkjatel Radadel”. The melody/lead riff is not of this world, with a majestic grandeur that has its place in the halls of Valhalla, brilliant Pagan Metal from the Estonians! FOREFATHER’s unique Anglo Saxon Metal (English version of Viking Metal), SKYFORGER’s pure Folk of “A Crested Bird Sings” and ALKONOST’s “Darkness” are standout tracks as well, have a look at my reviews of all their previous efforts to see that any CD you pick up will be worth your while and money (yes, money, not downloading bandwidth!).
Swedish shooting stars IRMINSUL, who just inked a deal with Det Germanske Folket, offer us a pretty unique brand of Folk Metal, while SLARTIBARTFASS have taken the criticism of their debut album by heart and show a lot more maturity on this track.
All in all “Metal Message IV” once more is a recommended slab of Pagan/Viking/Folk Metal that should satisfy any genre fan, especially as the visual side is absolutely up to par as well! Raise the horns!
(Online January 18, 2008)