Månegarm – Månegarm (Napalm)Sunday, 22nd November 2015
Sweden’s Månegarm has been kicking out the blackened/folksy Viking metal jams since the late nineties. Now releasing their eighth studio album, these vets ably demonstrate their staying power in the genre, and release another work of good quality.
“Nattramn”, one of the best of the lot on this self-titled release, is a good place to start for those who’d like a glimpse into what the Månegarm experience is all about. Mighty and heroic, double kicking and battle-hardened Nordic melodies – with guitars and violin in cahoots – enriched with epic-feeling group backing vocals and the whole nine yards make this tune the pick of the litter.
True for metal residing in the Viking camp, Månegarm is a purveyor of melody. From the opener “Blodörn” they get out of the gate in due fashion, heavy guitars and plodding drums accompanied by violin and Jew’s harp, melding with aching guitar melodies and harsh-yet-melodic vocals call to mind a bit of Moonsorrow. Things progress in much of the same fashion for the first section of the album (mighty, catchy, mid-tempo’d head-bangin’), incorporating folk instrumentation into the metal. Of course, these Swedes couldn’t resist a song about a Norse god, so “Odin Owns ye All” provides that offering. It’s a meaty slab of Viking heaviness, high on the head-banging but also high on the cheese factor due to the lyrics and title. It’s trite, but effective.
Departing from the intensity, “Blot” is a stripped-back number of acoustic guitar and fiddle with clean vocals complimented by female accompaniment. This makes practically a seamless segue into “Vigverk – del II”, which stays on the same theme as the previous track, thus providing a soft middle section to the album. Wisely, the metal marches on with “Call of the Runes” yet takes another break for “Bärsärkarna från svitjod”: more acoustic and campfire stuff.
The self-titled Månegarm is a record that fans of the folk metal genre should enjoy (fans of Korpiklaani, Eluveitie, Finntroll and the like). As for originality, the album would get low marks, but that’s certainly not the point. There is definitely a little fatigue from samey-ness from one song to the next on Månegarm, but at the end of the day, it’s a solid outing.