This EP, “Battlefield”, is the product of the one-man band SWORDS OF ASGARD, which only consists of Juan Hernandez. When listening to this California-based band, the first thing that one notices is the extensive work of the keyboards. This is in short a Black Metal base sound laden with a lot of keyboards. I must admit that Mr. Hernandez handles it well. His drum programming (at least I think that they are programmed, because it sounds like that) is tight and if his is playing himself I am impressed as well, because the tempo is high and keeps up the base throughout the entire recording. There is not much to be said about the guitar playing. It is simple, Black Metal-styled, distorted and completely drowned by the keyboards.
There is extensive work with sound effects such as fighting, thunder and feasting Vikings alongside the keyboard melodies. These said melodies are fairly varied, but mainly sound like fanfares from trumpets and similar instruments. Other than that there are calmer harmonies that work in the background and “faked” folk instrumentation, as well. These effects have been used too much, but the result isn’t that bad anyway as Hernandez seems to know how to vary his keyboard approach, within the songs. As a whole, though, the concept feels rather repetitive.
The vocals have not been mentioned yet. They are probably the weakest point on this EP. They are Black Metal styled, but a bit deeper than those usually sound. The problem is that they are put very high in the mix and not placed so that they harmonize with the rest of the music. That is a problem that is due to both the mixing and a lack of rhythmical feeling in the vocal approach.
All in all, I think that more work is needed for SWORDS OF ASGARD to develop, and probably more members. One-man bands are seldom successful (BATHORY is one of very few). To sum up, this is some form of Symphonic/Black/Viking Metal and the people to recommend this to is probably fans of older THYRFING material, but just so you know, when it comes to quality, this isn’t near “Valdr Galga” or “Thyrfing”.
(Online December 7, 2008)