Among many of the Metalheads who have followed the Viking Metal movement from the beginning, MITHOTYN have acquired something of a cult status with their heavy onslaught of different Extreme Metal influences (with Black Metal at the bottom, but adding much more) and catchy, folk-tinged riffing. After the breakup of MITHOTYN, guitarist Stefan Weinerhall went on to start FALCONER together with drummer Karsten Larsson, while the other guitarist, Karl Beckman, played in several projects, for example INFERNAL VENGEANCE. Now, however, Beckman has returned to the folk influences with his new band KING OF ASGARD. He has also managed to get Karsten Larsson to play the drums, as of old.
The history lesson is rather relevant to understand this album, because KING OF ASGARD sounds very much like MITHOTYN without the influence that is now in FALCONER. What we have here is an album of Extreme Metal, often in a high tempo, varied thunderous drumming and growling somewhere between a Black and Death Metal approach. KING OF ASGARD are not as firmly rooted in Black Metal as MITHOTYN were however. The flagship of the record is, nonetheless, the folk-tinged riffing that made MITHOTYN great and which is found in a more melodic form in FALCONER.
All musicians perform well. Karsten Larsson is a high-class drummer and feels enthusiastic about hammering away some blastbeats as well as drum patterns from both Death and Traditional Metal. Beckman’s guitars are, as mentioned, awesome and Jonas Albrektsson’s bass-work leaves nothing to wish for. Karl Beckman is the one doing the vocals here, as well and his raspy and very audible growling works well. Lyrically, this album is slightly above average in the genre and actually includes some guest writing by Stefan Weinerhall. A fun detail is that the lyrics of “Vämods Tale” are a translation of the text on the Rök stone (a Swedish rune stone featuring the longest rune inscription in the world).
Many songs are good on this album. “The Last Journey”, “Never Will You Know Of Flesh Again”, “Brethren Of The North” and “Lingering A Sacred Ground” are all admirable songs. The absolute highlight, however, is “Einhärjar”, which kicks in right after the intro. Its straightforward guitar-work, catchy yet raw build-up and awesome chorus convinced me on first listen and still work after many, many spins.
Fans of folk-influenced Metal should rejoice, for this is almost as if MITHOTYN were back. What does not quite reach that level is that Weinerhall’s song-writing is not present (making the song structures a little less sophisticated) and that the vocals aren’t as varied as in MITHOTYN’s later days (when many choir parts were used). Helene Blad’s guest vocals on “The Last Journey” are a positive variation in the vocal department though. All in all, a very solid record, which is a must-buy for MITHOTYN fans but also something worth to checkout for fans of Extreme Metal with melody and the whole Folk Metal bunch.
(Online February 15, 2012)