Usually when I receive a batch of promos in the mail, I listen to each one a few times to get a feel for the album sufficient for reviewing purposes and then place them in a pile and forget about them. That is why bands like METSATÖLL are such a nice surprise – this unexpected gem definitely found a place in my collection. Epic Heavy Metal mixed with traditional Estonian folk, including the use of a variety of native Estonian instruments. Yes, this is Metal with bagpipes and it’s great!
For the most part, the tracks go by pretty quickly, as there are 18 of them during “Hiiekoda’s” running time of just over an hour. A few of the tracks are acapella or nearly-acapella chants, including the majestic ”Kui Meid Sõtta Sõrmitie” and ritualistic “Velekeseg Noorõkõsõq.” “Eestimaa Vadadiku Laul Puu Oksa Peal” is a soothing tune played entirely on the bagpipe and the longer-running “Hiiekoda” and “Ussisõnad” finish the album in truly epic fashion. As you can probably tell, all of the lyrics are in METSATÖLL’s native tongue, though they do provide English translations of the song titles in the liner notes. The lyrical topics range from Estonian myths and legends, such as in “Saaremaa Vägimees” (which translates to “The Giant-Hero Of Ösel”) to hymns of war like “Lahinguväljal Näeme, Raisk!” (“See You On The Battlefield!”). Unlike a lot of Folk Metal, there is very little in the way of Death or Black Metal influences and the vocals are mainly delivered in a clean, deeply chanted sort of way, called “Runo singing,” that perfectly fits the music.
Of course, with so many songs and such a long running time, the album does begin to drag a bit toward the end, but the mix of Metal and Estonian folk which METSATÖLL has accomplished on this album is proficient, unique and most of all, fun. If you like Folk Metal at all, you owe it to yourself to check this out. This is a band we’ll be hearing more about in the future. (Online September 7, 2005)