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ANN S. REVIEWS – DALRIADA AND SKYFORGER! FOLK ON!
DALRIADA – ‘ĺGÉRET’, AFM RECORDS; 2011
Much as it does feel disconcerting to see that they’ve adopted a warrior- based image this time around like much of the status quo, it seems safe to say that this has little to no impact on how Dalriada have approached their sound on newest offering ‘ĺgéret‘. Unlike most other names in the folk metal circuit, the band seem to be amoung the relative few who know what folk music is and how to make it run with their metal; rather than shove it in as a novelty tune now and then.
Not only does ‘ĺgéret‘ see Dalriada raise their folk stakes considerably higher, but they throw a few surprises to the mix – one of which being the use of growls by frontwoman Laura Binder. Though they don’t feature on most of the tracks other than second number ‘Hajdútánc‘, what does get heard suggests that Binder could be a more versatile talent than previous audiences were well aware of.
Another interesting turn, as mentioned before; is that Dalriada have raised the bar for the folk side to their sound with local musicians Fajkusz Band and even Korpiklaani’s Jonne Järvelä providing more traditional elements than previously. Though as further away as sami yoiking seems to be from Hungarian melodies, they are careful to not distract enough to be completely jarring.
It could say a lot about Hungarian folk as it does about Dalriada‘s own metal capabilities, that ‘ĺgéret‘ thus comes across as a stronger, even catchier release than their other works. This may be due to the lack of what feels like musical filler, as with last outing ‘Arany – Album‘; or that they’ve gone for much tighter songwriting. Whatever the reason, this looks to be an interesting new chapter in the band’s journey together; and as a label debut from AFM Records it could be a step forward in spreading more awareness of non-Nordic folk metal.
SKYFORGER – ‘KURBADS’, METAL BLADE, 2010
Seven years since their last LP ‘Thunderforge‘, Latvian folk metallers Skyforger return to the scene with new album ‘Kurbads‘; which not only sees a brief departure from their historical-based fare but a slight change towards a thrashier direction through their black metal-infused sound.
Compared to ‘The Battle of Saule‘ and ‘Latvian Riflemen‘, ‘Kurbads‘ is a continuation of the war theme established by them. As with its predecessors, this comes forth in the lyrics, instrumentation and overall atmosphere (not including the bonus cover song); yet unlike these albums there is another aspect that affects the musical output here. Whereas ‘Latvian Riflemen‘ for instance had an ongoing sense of fear and uncertainty for the soldiers’ fate by the end, this more recent release has at least the asset of closure – throughout the songs, the audience is introduced to the world that the title character is born into, his trials as a hero and then finally his death when he kills the evil Snake Witch.
As a result, the entire record plays with a set motion from one condition to another – the dark, rashly tuned and angry riffs and syncopation eventually give way to heroic glory while the story runs along. Skyforger‘s performance in turn reflects this mainly through choosing a thrash-based style which allows such closure to come out more freely than their own, previously darker approach to metal. Even the traditional folk instruments and melodies follow this; leading to moments where they give more space to the guitars and vice versa.
Though it may not carry as much fear, suspense or even mythos as the rest of the band’s solid discography, ‘Kurbads‘ remains a consistently good album from Skyforger. Since this marks their return to recording full records since 2003, it is a certainly well-played comeback.
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