FOLKEARTH — Sons of the North (review)

FOLKEARTH — Sons of the North album cover Album · 2011 · Folk Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
2/5 ·
Sons of the North is the ninth studio album from super-productive super group project Folkearth. It was released in 2011, not even twelve months after their prior album, Viking’s Anthem, following on the usual trend for the project to release an album a year since their 2004 debut, which they only broke between the first two albums when 2005 saw no Folkearth release, but was more than made up for in 2008 when the project released three albums in one year.

This super-productivity, coupled with a revolving roster of musicians, is what is actually becoming the problem with Folkearth. Like with 2010’s Viking’s Anthem, Sons of the North is a textbook example of mediocre. If the musicians involved with Folkearth only got together once in a while to make a new album, I’m pretty sure that they could produce a much stronger result, but they seem pretty content to throw out average offering after average offering, each of which may have one, or if lucky two or even three really decent tracks, but otherwise not have a lot else going for it other than being listenable, and in a world where the sheer amount of metal music about is considerable, just being listenable isn’t going to cut it.

Sons of the North is something of an exception to recent Folkearth however, and not in a good way. That’s because it lacks even the standout tracks that saved Viking’s Anthem from total mediocrity. The album is listenable enough, but as I stated above that just isn’t going to cut it anymore and as I listen to Sons of the North I can’t help taking exception to it, as the album annoys me a lot. Imagine the concept on paper, a project made up of this many musicians (15), some of them from other folk metal bands, making an album together should, in my mind, sound a lot better on the folk side of things than Sons of the North does. Some of folk melodies here are just downright laughable due to how generic they are, and there are many parts in the music where even these generic melodies are completely absent. For an album that does actually use an assortment of actual instruments to produce the folk sounds rather than just a keyboard, the sound that is produced sounds somewhat synthetic.

Things are somewhat better on the metal side of things. Vocal wise the album is generally dominated by some deep growls that do not fit with the music very well at all, but the music itself contains some really good riffs and some decent leads aplenty, but what praise worthy parts are found within Sons of the North are killed by that lack of decent folk melody. The effort is messy and completely inconsistent, with the only track that comes remotely close to being actually pretty good is Taking Arms. The rest just either passes me by without note, or I notice it for the wrong reasons.

Sons of the North as a whole doesn’t deserve a really low score, but neither does it deserve one that pushes towards the positive end of the spectrum, even by a narrow margin. For being listenable enough with a few good ideas dotted around its duration Folkearth deserves a score straight down the middle of the scoring range. I can’t really recommend this, if you’re reading this review and are at all serious about folk metal I suggest you try out actual bands such as Cruachan or Аркона instead, as opposed to projects such as this. I think you’d find the listening experience much more rewarding. For me Folkearth just need to stop and take a break already, before their output stops being just average and becomes really dire and embarrassing.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scoring 5.0/10)
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