There has got to be something wrong with the Metal gods in France, because not only BRAN BARR had to battle with problems releasing their second album “Sidh”, but also NYDVIND and their second album “Sworn To The Elders”. Already recorded all the way back in 2005 and 2006, it only sees the light of day now and that is not the only thing that NYDVIND and BRAN BARR have in common, no they also share the gentlemen Richard Loudin, Loic Courtete (who has since left the band) and Nesh, which play in both bands, so there seems to be something going on with them then...
Anyways, while BRAN BARR covers more of the Black Metal influenced Folk Metal side of things, NYDVIND are more Folk Metal influenced Black Metal, so rather Pagan Metal, as the dark foundation is there, but they add acoustic guitar, some tin whistle and flute as well as some choirs, with a stronger emphasis on the heavier side of the spectrum, since the Folk elements are used only sparingly, while the defiant spirit seems a little stronger running through their veins under the NYDVIND banner.
The intro “Gates To A Distant Past” is not your usual starter, as it is somewhat ominous with dark keyboards and the sounds of crows or ravens, setting the mood nicely for the Pagan Metal firework of “Son Of Fire”, which tears you out of tranquillity with a blastbeat barrage, before settling more into a mid-paced rhythm with some choir, some growls and some half-clear vocals, a very epic track with plenty of variability and a very audible bass, something fairly rare in this genre, but a welcome change.
Dynamics and variability are two of the strong suits of the Frenchmen, as well as atmosphere. The title track is maybe my favourite track, slow-paced, very epic with both growled and clear vocals and with acoustic guitars sprinkled in throughout the track, which really adds, I wish that more bands would do that (Canadian SIG:AR:TYR are one of the best example for this!), but also the faster “Upon The Throne Of North” falls into a comparable category, with a calm interlude where the song breaks down into acoustic mode, and the Folk element really only comes to the fore on “Icewinds Unleashed”, where the Folk instruments are utilized fairly strongly, but always within the Pagan Metal context.
I have no idea, why both BRAN BARR and NYDVIND had such immense problems getting their albums released, because both of them are very, very strong pieces of French Metal, in the case of “Sworn To The Elders” we are treated to a great piece of powerful, dynamic, epic and variable Pagan Metal that should not disappoint any genre fan.
(Online October 17, 2010)