Heart of war...
Genre: folk metal
Get ready to folk it up with the Metsatöll boys on this album entitled "Ulg" (and I must say, I love the cover art work!!!!) which combines medieval folk music with heavy metal aesthetics. Now, very often, I think that folk metal does not work, but Metsatöll belong to those bands who can create folk metal which works extremely well.
After a quite mellow and pleasant instrumental intro in the form of 'Agu', 'Sõjasüda' kicks in with fast drum beats and dissonant chords, and with its emphasis on repetition and speed, this song basically combines black metal and thrash metal, adding a folksy touch in the form of the vocal patterns. Continuing down the primitive thrash road, 'Küü' starts off combining a simply one chord groovy guitar riff with a folksy melody performed on a type of flute. Perhaps taking the listener by surprise some odd time signature passages pop up, and the remainder of the song goes back and forth between the simple groovy riff and rhythmically more complex odd metered parts, and, combined with the folksy vocals, this dynamics works excellently. 'Muhu õud' has more of a folksy drive to it, and a nice uplifting twangy sound on top of the distorted guitars, and 'Kivine Maa' is more of a traditional heavy metal / hard rock tune (with some nice use of Jew's harpes and other medieval instruments on top of the classic metal riffage). Another noteworthy tune is the rhythmically and slightly progressively oriented oriented metal track 'Kahjakaldad' (one of the best tracks on the album, for my money).
I think that one of the things that make this album work is first of all the balance between variation and coherence. Also, Metsatöll focus primarily on the metal aspect of their music, allowing the rhythm guitar to take the central role in the overall sound of the album, while the folk element primarily consists in the vocal lines and the melodies performed on folk instrumentation (I mist admit that I would have liked some more lead guitar on this album).
Overall, 'Ulg' is a quite good medieval/folk/pagan metal album which manages to draw on different types of heavy metal music, including black metal, thrash metal, and traditional metal to generate a varied, metal-focused folk metal album.