To say that I’m a fan of Pagan/Viking Metal is a gross understatement and international project FOLKEARTH had been one of the most ambitious endeavours of the scene, having been founded in 2004 as a conglomerate of musicians from all over the place. They also are a very productive bunch, as they’re really belting albums out with a whopping three of them in 2008 alone (among them one acoustic album), the first of which is titled “Father Of Victory”, their fourth overall, and I had quite high hopes for it, as in the past they had some very find Metal on offer.
Well, it seems as if the longship has struck a sandbank this time around because while there are some enjoyable tracks and passages to be found, others more resemble a shipwreck, at least to my ears. One of the main gripes is the quality of the production, which is inconsistent throughout the album, at times bordering on abysmal, a clear sign that during the mix process things didn’t quite work out. The sound quality even seems to be different between instruments on the same tracks, which shows that apparently not everybody had recorded at the same level and that during the mix those variables have not been equalized, which is never good. Also the quality of many of the songs leaves quite a bit to be desired, as many riffs and rhythms seem run of the mill and lack fire and passion. I am not sure if that is due to the musicians coming from lesser known bands now, as the sparks of brilliance that we could find in their earlier works seems to have been snuffed out, but it might be one reason.
I guess that one of the worst attributes you can give an album is “uninspired” and that’s what good parts of “Father Of Victory” seem like. Be it the boring violin of “The Purest Breed”, which doesn’t serve any purpose, or the awkward break in the same song, which definitely takes away from the good melodies of the track. In other tracks the production (or lack of) drags down the composition as well, as the beginning of “Sleipnir” sounds very thin and the drums have no power whatsoever, and the tin whistle/flute sometimes screeches over the songs, drowning it out, the song itself would not be bad, if it wasn’t for those shortcomings. One of the things that you rarely find in Viking Metal or Folk Metal is dissonance, unless it is called for by whichever Folk influence you are processing, but never without a purpose. “What Glory Remains” is a good, acoustic song, but the vocals sound as if they’ve been recorded down the hall, once more harming a good song.
So far sounds pretty annihilating, doesn’t it? Well, it is not AS bad as it may read right now, because there is quality to be found, like “The Will Of Odin”, which is one of the best tracks that I have heard by FOLKEARTH so far, with only the weak production (which especially hurts the chorus) and the rather generic blastbeat eruption hurting the track, but here the folks show dynamics, energy and passion, so they know how to do it! “The Iron Wolf” also displays these qualities and definitely stands out. Unfortunately, though, that is the minority on this album. Not that the songs were outright bad, no, most of them contain some great melodies or vocals or Folk interludes, but only few manage to shine from beginning to end, many bogged down by the production and/or shortcomings in the songwriting department.
Overall “Father Of Victory” definitely is a disappointment, because it falls flat in too many areas, maybe a usable production might have saved some of the songs, but overall it leaves the stale taste of lackluster behind, so I can’t recommend this album, try their older stuff, which should cater to your tastes way more!
(Online February 20, 2009)