Månegarm – Legions of the North (Napalm Records)Sunday, 14th July 2013
Enslaved’s Eld make it possible for Scandinavian bands to play Viking/folk inspired death/black metal without having to resort to native instrumentation as a point of focus. From there (read: early 90s), the various manifestations of Viking and folk metal has blossomed; blossomed to the point where it’s virtually impossible to place a set definition on what is what, which is which. Snuggling between those cracks is Sweden’s Månegarm, who have made the jump to Napalm Records for the release of their seventh album, Legions of the North.
Bearing some rather generic hallmarks (cue the album title, Swedish lyrics, themes, etc.), Legions of the North comes across as a less stylized version of what fellow Swedes King of Asgard are doing. Portions of the album take a dip in the extreme metal pool, enabling black metal blasting to work in concert with swerving chord patterns, while the pepped-up frolic of “Hordes of Hel” was clearly designed to show Månegarm can have a good time while singing about their forefathers.
Finding something remarkable over the course of Legion of the North’s 12 jams might prove to be fruitless, for the album positions itself to be by the book. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with gobbling up the history of folk/Viking metal into one album, you’d think a band seven albums into its career would at least take the time to put certain, overly-familiar ideas to bed.