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Folk Metal Essentials

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Agalloch - The Mantle:

Agalloch are a dark/folk metal band from the USA, specializing in making very moody and serene sounding music. Their sound is akin to a mixture of Ulver's Bergtatt with bands like Opeth, Katatonia (Brave Murder Day), and Anathema (The Silent Enigma), though they definitely expand upon these influences. There are lots of acoustic guitars, clean vocal passages, and beautiful sections to contrast the harsh dark metal vocals and riffs. A very captivating band, and this is my favorite album of theirs. This is much more somber and serious sounding music than that created by most jovial and upbeat sounding folk metal bands, and I quite enjoy it.

 

Asmegin - Hin Vordende Sod & So

Asmegin are a Norwegian folk metal band that combine black/death metal with more traditional folk metal, to a pretty unique effect. Most folk metal bands have a power or black metal back drop, but hearing the lower vocals and heavier riffing of Asmegin painting across their folk canvas isn't very common, but they execute it well. Especially of note here are Lars Nedlund's clean vocals, which are wonderful as always, but that's not to say that the harsh vocals are bad. Good stuff here, though I can't comment on their second album.

 

Bathory - Twilight of the Gods

Bathory are most well known as a black metal band, however, they were also the first viking metal band starting with Hammerheart, and were one of the earliest metal bands to incorporate folky influences into their music. Their sound here is slowed down a great deal from their black metal period, focusing on an epic heavy metal base, but made even more grandiose. There are lots of acoustic guitars and folky melodies here, in addition to the pagan/viking imagery. Bathory were one of the best metal bands ever, and being innovators and masters of two very different styles (black and viking/folk metal) would count as one of my reasons why they're so highly revered.

 

Borknagar - Empiricism:

Borknagar are one of the best known folk metal bands from Norway, and are also one of my favorites. Their early sound was much more black metal aligned, when Garm of Ulver was their vocalist, but he was replaced by Vortex (Dimmu Borgir), and then Vintersorg. This is from their first album with Vintersorg, who was also instrumental in making their music much more progressive, and increasing the presence of clean vocals. Vintersorg's clean and harsh vocals are both great, and provide an additional layer of awesome over the complex, progressive folk metal on display here. This is top notch stuff, and though I don't have all of their albums, I can say that I love all that I've heard from Borknagar.

 

Crimfall - As the Path Unfolds:

Crimfall are a Finnish symphonic folk metal band, which emphasize heavy usage of keyboards and female vocals, but there are still harsh male vocals to offset this. They're not the heaviest folk metal band out there, but their compositions are engaging and their music is definitely well performed. This would definitely be good for power and symphonic metal fans who don't mind harsh vocals and folk music mixed with the aforementioned styles, or people into more keyboard heavy folk metal bands like Turisas.

 

Cruachan - Tualha na Gael:

Cruachan are one of the more well known folk metal bands out there today, but their sound has certainly changed since this, their debut album. The production here is not very good, but buried beneath a crappy mix is a actually a very good black/celtic/folk metal hybrid, and the black metal element would be phased out of this band's sound almost entirely after this album. I haven't heard more than a few songs from the band's newer sound, but from what I remember, I definitely liked this style better. This is well written black/folk metal, with a pretty solid integration, as opposed to black metal bands that use random folk passages between songs.

 

Einherjer - Blot:

Einherjer are one of many Norwegian viking/folk metal bands, but are a bit different than many of their peers, as they don't have anywhere near as much black metal in their sound as many others. The vocals could certainly fit the bill, but the musical backdrop is more akin to heavy/thrash metal, with a few progressive and technical touches, and would end up starting a thrash metal band after Einherjer disbanded. This is good stuff though, very catchy and memorable folk/viking metal, and with enough originality and variety to stand out from the pack.

 

Ensiferum - Ensiferum:

Ensiferum are a very well known folk metal band, and while I do feel that they're overrated, I still like some of their music. Their debut, in particular, as a pretty catchy and fun folk metal album, with the base of their sound lying in the realm of harsher power metal ala Children of Bodom and melodeath. Their melodies here are pretty well written though, and actually remind me of melodies that Amorphis frequently uses (not surprising as they covered an Amorphis song later on), which can't really be a bad thing. Not my favorite band, but they have their moments, and their debut probably contains more of them than any of their other albums.

 

Enslaved - Frost:

Enslaved are often grouped into the black metal category, and while that's not entirely incorrect since they do have a great deal of black metal in their sound, they were actually one of the first viking metal bands. Bathory would be the first to claim that epic, triumphant viking sound, but Enslaved coined the term on this, their second album Frost. While the vocals, production, and some of the instrumentation may remind you of black metal, the gallop of these riffs, the native Norwegian melodies, and strong pagan imagery paint a much more viking picture. It's also worth noting that Enslaved are probably my favorite metal band all things considered, with stunning songwriting, a totally original and constantly evolving sound (becoming much more progressive starting with their fifth album), and a startlingly consistent track record. These guys come with the highest recommendation, all of their albums are great IMO, and you can see many of them on my top 10 lists throughout the years.

 

Falkenbach - ...Magnr Blandinn Ok Megantiri:

Falkenbach are one of Germany's oldest folk/viking metal bands, and also one of the most respected in the entire genre. They don't do anything wildly different from many of their peers, but they do still have their own identifiable sound, and are experts at crafting engrossing and epic songs that conjure images of viking ships and massive battles. Not really much else to say about this band, except that I would definitely call them essential for any folk/viking metal fan.

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Weirdly enough, I'm sort of in the mood for folk metal right now, which hasn't struck me for some time. Seeing as I've only ever posted one batch of videos here, I may as well do another:

 

Finntroll - Jaktens ho:

Finntroll is probably a super obvious choice, but I don't care, they're still one of my favorites in the folk metal genre. Their early work is their best work, especially this album, where the synthesis of aggression and goofy, fun as hell folk metal come together. Is it goofy? Fuck yes, but take off the corpse paint, remove the inverted cross from your sphincter, and try having some fun for once.

 

Hades - The Dawn of the Dying Sun:

Hades was one of the earliest viking metal bands, along with Bathory, Enslaved, Helheim, etc..., and are one of my absolute favorites. The sound here is quite simple and repetitious, similar to Bathory's Hammerheart, but the atmosphere here is just massive. This was recorded at Grieghallen in the early 90's in Norway, so it bears some sonic similarities to Norwegian black metal, but one listen to the folky melodies, riff structures, epic songs, and old-world pagan mood will tell you that this is viking all the way. They were more raw than most who followed, but in the best way possible.

 

Helheim - Av Norrøn Ætt:

Helheim is another one of those often forgotten early viking metal bands, along with countrymen Hades. The sound on their early works is akin to a more bombastic early Enslaved, with a bit more of a folk drive in their melodies and compositions. They were also more experimental early on, with some less straightforward passages found here than on an album like Frost. The drumming here is a bit sloppy, but I feel that the songs don't suffer from it. Definitely a great addition to the collection of any viking metal fan.

 

Hellveto - Zmiersch:

Hellveto is a one man symphonic viking/black metal band from Poland. Playing in this style and hailing from Poland may bring acts like Graveland to mind, but while I can definitely hear the influence, there is a lot more going on here than on the average Graveland song. Other than the keyboards, the pieces themselves tend to be fairly basic, but the strength of Hellveto is in weaving many layers together into a rich and beautiful tapestry, with some magnificent keyboard work being one of the highlights of the sound. Now, I love keyboards when done correctly, but seldom will you hear me describe them as one of the best parts of the band, but that's definitely the case here. In conclusion, this is more symphonic and layered than your typical viking metal album, but it still retains all of the epic feeling and rousing atmosphere of a more basic release despite its more elegant approach.

 

Isengard - Hostmorke:

Isengard was a fairly short lived project from Fenriz of Darkthrone. Isengard wasn't massively different from Darkthrone musically, but the biggest difference has got to be Fenriz' clean baritone vocals. Also, while you can still hear plenty of Celtic Frost and other influences in the riffs, they're constructed with a more folky outlook and fit the vocals well. One of the more black metal entries on this list, but the feeling evoked here is much more folk oriented than standard black metal, so I felt it belonged here.

 

Kampfar - Heimgang:

Kampfar is another of Norway's early entries into viking/pagan metal, and are one of the few from that time that still exist in a largely unchanged way (Helheim, Enslaved, and Hades all became much more futuristic and modern sounding). I use the term "pagan metal" to differentiate this from viking metal, as this doesn't feel as grandiose and epic as viking metal, but also uses just as much, if not more, folk influence in their melodies. Pagan metal aesthetically shares the most with black metal among these genres in structure and technique, but as you can tell, this has much more in common with Moonsorrow than Darkthrone. Anyway, Kampfar is a simplistic, but rewarding band that should win over both black metal and folk metal fins with their catchy riffs and melodies, regardless of what you want to call them.

 

Kivimetsän Druidi - Shadowheart:

Kivimetsän Druidi is a Finnish (unsurprisingly) folk metal band with a bit of a different take on the formula. Most folk metal either focuses more on the black/death side of the side, while others opt for a more melodic and symphonic/happy take, while these guys mash both together. The result is kind of chaotic, but has a great way of combining the fun aspects of folk metal with a larger metal base to sink your teeth into. Lots of blastbeats and speedy passages contrast the keyboard and clean female vocal driven sections, and it really makes for a surprisingly enjoyable listen.

 

Mithotyn - In the Sign of the Ravens:

Mithotyn were yet another great early Swedish viking/folk metal band, and one that is too often relegated to a historical footnote due to the success of Falconer, the band that they would form after Mithotyn's demise. Falconer isn't bad, sort of a power/folk metal hybrid, but I vastly prefer Mithotyn's more raging formula. You can hear some power metal in the sound as early as their debut here, which set the apart from the pack and gave them a more accessible identity to their peers, without sacrificing the more extreme vocals and drumming. As usual, if you like the style you should find plenty to enjoy here, but this would also be a good gateway band for those into the less harsh sounding side of folk/viking metal to cut their teeth on.

 

Moonsorrow - Kivenkantaja:

Moonsorrow is one of the most well known and respected names in viking metal for a good reason, they're one of the most consistent and awesome bands in the genre. While the genre is known for building an epic atmosphere of grandeur, Moonsorrow takes it t another level, with a sound that's as engrossing as it is massive. Heavy riffs, excellent keyboards, and simply stunning songwriting across their entire career. Even when writing sprawling epics, some of which are over 30 minutes long, there is so much to hear and indulge in that my attention never wanders. Simply one of the masters of their craft, every viking metal fan should have own their whole discography IMO.

 

Suidakra - Crogacht:

Suidakra are a bit unusual for a folk metal band, as using a melodic death metal base to integrate folk influences upon doesn't happen very often. However, they do so quite impressively, with excellent musical chops, seamless integration of folk melodies into their guitar and bass lines, awesome acoustic breaks, and a great deal of energy and enthusiasm. The folk metal used here is of a more Celtic variety than the typical Scandinavian sound that you would hear, adding another element of originality to their already varied and unique sound. I could definitely see this being a good fit for both fans of folk metal and melodeath.

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I'm very surprised you like Kivimetsan Druidi' date=' I used to like them a fair bit.[/quote'] Me too. I bought it without having heard much when my friend was selling a ton of folk metal, and he didn't have much else that I wanted at the time. I didn't think I would like it when I came back to it, but was surprised that it still did something for me. Sent from my HTC PH39100 using Tapatalk 2

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I know that RO had requested some more folk metal videos, but I may be out of suggestions at this point. I got burned out on the genre several years ago and am just recently getting to where I can listen to it again, so I haven't really been updating that portion of my collection for some time. Maybe I'll start work on something else until I have more to post here.

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With a risk of posting this on the wrong spot, but i think Summoning fits as good here as in the BM category. The Atmosphere is like no other, And this Austrians love for Tolkien is hard to miss. CHQJNix6oUc
Summoning is pretty folky, so I could see placing them here.

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Some great bands mentioned already here, dont think anyone's said eluvetite, they're a folk metal band with a female vocalist. Recently been listening to the pagan manifesto by elvenking and they use a lot of folk influences in their music. They're a mix of power/folk metal. Tyr uses some folk elements in their Viking metal, although they also sound quite power/symphonic metal as well. Also heidevolk are a Dutch pagan/Viking metal who are really cool. They sing mostly in Dutch or something but I think they're amazing. Oh and if u just want something cheesy and fun check out alestorm, Scottish pirate folk metal

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Some great bands mentioned already here' date=' dont think anyone's said eluvetite, they're a folk metal band with a female vocalist. Recently been listening to the pagan manifesto by elvenking and they use a lot of folk influences in their music. They're a mix of power/folk metal. Tyr uses some folk elements in their Viking metal, although they also sound quite power/symphonic metal as well. Also heidevolk are a Dutch pagan/Viking metal who are really cool. They sing mostly in Dutch or something but I think they're amazing. Oh and if u just want something cheesy and fun check out alestorm, Scottish pirate folk metal[/quote'] I would be sincerely surprised if all of those weren't mentioned already, they're among the most popular bands in the field.

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