Russian label Stygian Crypt is slowly getting somewhere, LITTLE DEAD BERTHA, SHAMBLESS, MYSTICAL GATE, RADIGOST, DEVIL-MAY-CARE, DIATHRA and now with FOLKEARTH they have the, as far as I know, first band that does not hail from the Russian language region. But then again, to call this a band is maybe a bit far-fetched, as the two creative heads of FOLKEARTH are Greek Marios Koutsoukos, who was responsible for the majority of the lyrics, while Swede Magnus Wohlfart (YGGDRASIL, BROKEN DAGGER, ex TRYMHEIM) composed most of the music. With that we get a whole whack of other musicians (mostly Swedish) from bands such as TRYMHEIM, YGGDRASIL, BROKEN DAGGER or BODY CORE plus guest musicians from RAVENCLAW, ELUVEITIE and another quite well-known band, but more on that in a moment.
The musical direction is a mix of Folk Metal and some Viking Metal, while the lyrics deal with the Nordic mythology while also grazing the Celts on the way, so the whole thing should pretty much be right up my alley, shouldn’t it? Well, it basically is. After the Celtic intro with Uilleann pipe, tin whistle and bodhran “Wolfsong In Moonlight (Fenris Unbound)“ shows the marching route of the album: very melodic, with quite strong keyboards, mostly growled/screeched vocals, choirs and an altogether very epic atmosphere. And something else strikes right away as well: The unfortunately pretty low and at times dull production, which takes away quite a bit. Still a good start, making appetite for more. “Horned Trolls And Mystical Folk“ basically continues this as well, but a lot more predictable, before reaching that already mentioned track, which is “Rhyming With Thunder“. The two musicians are none other than Athelstan and Wulfstan from the brilliant FOREFATHER, who have taken over the songwriting and most of the instruments, most probably the highlight of the album, borne by Wulfstan’s characteristic, expressive voice, slow rhythm, true epicism, even with a bit of violin, very strong!
Unfortunately the quality of the songs can’t really keep this up, be it due to weaker melodies, more mundane Black Metal influenced passages (with a lot of generic screeching) or simply a lack of tension, which in the end makes “A Nordic Poem“ a pretty uneven experience. The BATHORY inspired “In Odin’s Court“ clearly shadows a “Eldritch Sorcery And Faery Runes“, just like “Storm Ravens Come“ dabbles by pretty much harmlessly, yet “Gaelic Valor” manages to realise the epic lyrics with ease and class.
At least partly the weak production might be attributed to this as well, but who manages to create songs such as “Intro (The Pipes Are Calling)“, “Rhyming With Thunder“, “In Odin’s Court“ and “Gaelic Valor“ should not drag that down with mediocre song material! (Online November 20, 2005)