Dutch HEIDEVOLK are one of the shooting stars of the international Folk/Viking Metal scene and in 2010 offered their third full-length in form of “Uit Oude Grond” as a continuation of their acclaimed Napalm debut “Walhalla Wacht”. And technically not much has changed, but that is exactly what I love about this album :)
The Dutchmen have crafted their own unique niche within the genre, where the vocals are the stars, not because of stellar technique or anything, but because of their employment of only deep, epic, clear vocals that fit the mood and nature of their songs perfectly. Joris Boghtdrincker and Mark Splintervuyscht play off each other and convey their stories with fervour and power, here and there supported by more choir and shouts, creating the image of sitting around a fire in a big camp, where the whole horde is joining in or a longship, where the crew is intones the battle hymns to inspire their own confidence and strike fear in their opponents.
Musically we are treated to the whole gamut of slow-paced and brooding to up-tempo and urgent, with pretty much anything in-between and if you try to nitpick, then the music on its own, while good and varied, is not necessarily anything outstanding or too original, yet as so often it is the mix that makes the cake tasty (just the flour, sugar and other dry ingredients make for a rather dusty dessert, don’t you agree?) and once the vocals come into play, the magic of HEIDEVOLK unfolds, since they add such an epic and earthy element that marks each of the tracks as uniquely HEIDEVOLK, something invaluable these days, even though they use the violin sparingly and do not run the whole gamut of Folk instruments to bolster their sound.
Be it the mid-paced epic opener “Nehallenia” to draw you in, the uptempo fury of “Vlammenzee” or the brooding slow “Een Geldersch Lied” (my personal favourite), together with the vocals it all creates a very cohesive whole that will draw you in, even if after the middle things maybe start to drag just a little, but the strengths definitely overpower the weaknesses. Oh, and before you think that without the vocals HEIDEVOLK are nothing, with “Alvermans Wraak” they prove that they do not have to solely rely on the voices either.
Aided by a clear and warm production, “Uit Oude Grond” overall is a bit more focused on the epic side, less on the faster stuff that we had found more of on “Walhalla Wacht”, but they master it well and I am looking forward to their next effort “Batavi” that is due to hit in early March of this year!
(Online January 25, 2012)