In many ways it is both unusual and perfectly normal to include a band such as Sweden’s Fejd in a metal/rock website. Fejd technically does not play metal or rock music, although its musicians come from a metal background. However there is a strange sort of metal atmosphere about the band’s music. Stylistically this is folk, and very authentic sounding folk at that with the band singing in their native language and using instruments such as Bouzouki, Swedish Bagpipe, Jew's Harp, Hurdy-Gurdy, Cow Antler, Recorder, Willow-pipe and Keyed Fiddle to boot and not an electric guitar to be heard. The folk instruments are backed however by a more common setup seen in metal bands, bass, keyboards and drums. On paper this isn’t metal and even when you listen to it you know it’s not metal and yet somehow it has the passion and the feel of metal in it, to the point that the band often gets tagged as being folk metal and included in metal listings on websites, despite that fact that technically they have no metal element. Even I, someone who likes to be very accurate with what tags I use with my music, often feel inclined to call Fejd a folk metal band. So what’s it all about I hear you ask? Well let me do my best to tell you as I review the group’s 2010 release Eifur, their second album and their best release to date.
Eifur opens up with the excellent Drängen Och Kråkan, starting off it sounds very folk then you get a few stabs that could just easily have been some power cords in a metal band. Early hints at their metal influences there. The drumming is also more prominent in the mix of these songs that I’ve heard in other folk music, as I said earlier the rhythm section of Fejd is pretty metal a standard setup for a metal band. Couple with the way the folk instruments are played it doesn’t that make much to imagine songs such as Drängen Och Kråkan being translated and working as full blown metal songs. There can be aggression in Fejd’s music, not so much in this opening track but its there and when it comes to the fore you can really hear what is meant when people say Fejd is metal. Farsot for example starts with some solo bass with is joined by a Jew’s Harp and when the song gets going it really does have the same effect with folk instruments as metal ones would. Sometimes when one thinks about it too much it’s as bizarre as it is pretty awesome. To further clarify the point there are even sections in the music that almost feel designed for headbanging, such as the part in Yggdrasil where after the second chorus (about two and half minutes in) things hit a real groove that I for one find myself nodding my head to as if I was listening to a metal band.
Enough about what genre they may or may not be. Let’s talk about Eifur as an album. In short this is a really impression record with highlights in abundance. First few songs Drängen Och Kråkan, Farsot, and Jungfru I Hindhamn really set the pace of the record and are all top notch tracks, especially the latter. After these three is the short instrumental Alvas Halling, which is great in its own right, I especially like the atmosphere of the piece. These are all new songs for the album, there are a few which I’ll discuss later that are remarks from the band’s demo releases I En Tid Som Var... and Huldran. I’ll finish this section by talking about the new songs though. The remake of Arv is thrown in between them and then we get three more new tracks, the title track Eifur, Ledung and lead single Gryning. Eifur is the one of the album’s shorter vocal pieces and the vocals of frontman Patrik Rimmerfors are particularly good here, though he keeps up a very high standard throughout the album. Ledung fits it well with the album but is perhaps one of the few moments on Eifur where I don’t dig it so much. Gryning however is another great track and one of my favourites from the album. The album then gives time to some more redone tracks before finishing up with Trollfärd, another instrumental, which provides an excellent piece to lead us out of this excellent Nordic journey.
Now to talk about these redone songs. Before Eifur was released I was of two minds about their decision to do this. I consider the band’s demos to very good releases as they are the band allows people to download these demos for free from their website so in a way we’re not getting anything new here and I was worried that they didn’t have enough material to make an album, which in turn worried me than the new songs wouldn’t be as of high quality as the demos or their first album Storm. As I’ve said the new songs are very good so obviously that was not the case. On a positive note for these songs inclusion as I said the demos were very good and I for one as a fan of this band feel very happy to have versions of them on an actual CD now, however if they were going to do this it would have been nice to see some personal favourites from the demos, namely their title tracks I En Tid Som Var... and Huldran respectively appearing on Eifur. However the ones we get are Arv and Yggdrasil from I En Tid Som Var... and Varstäv and Äring from Huldran. Varstäv is pretty much just the intro to Äring, which makes me wish that Fejd had made the two songs into one track this time around, seeing as Äring has been altered to include a reprise of Varstäv at the end. Äring however is an excellent song, as is Yggdrasil, which features the lead vocals of Niklas Rimmerfors instead of Patrik’s. This was always one of my favourites from their demos and naturally becomes a highlight for Eifur as well. As for Arv, the first of the remakes that we get to hear, well Arv was never a true favourite of mine from the demos. It’s a good song and all but like Ledung from the new tracks, I just don’t dig it so much.
In summary I find Eifur to be a fantastic release. It has a couple of moments where the pace seems to take a bit of a dip but other than that it’s of a masterwork quality and I would recommend it to metal fans without a shadow of a doubt. This both is and isn’t metal, and you got to hear it to believe it and you know what? Even if you don’t get it you may still just enjoy Eifur, but I know that I, for one, would be mighty stumped if I ever saw a metal site not at least acknowledge Fejd as one of our own.