Folk Metal

MetalMusicArchives.com — the ultimate metal music online community, from the creators of progarchives.com

Folk metal is a sub-genre of heavy metal music that originated in Europe in the early 1990’s and has since become more widespread. Folk metal, as the name suggests, is a fusion between various heavy metal styles and folk music. English band Skyclad is often credited for being the creators of folk metal for their 1991 album The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth, which featured a full time violinist alongside the more commonplace metal band setup of vocals, guitars, bass and drums. Many artists have since greatly expanded on the use of such instruments, with mandolins, banjos, flutes, whistles, bodhráns, hurdy gurdy and more all being featured in various folk metal releases.

There is no standard as to which metal genres can be merged with folk music to create folk metal, with bands ranging from more traditional heavy metal influences to extreme metal, with black metal being a common choice. Likewise there is no standard on how the folk influences should be utilised within a folk metal band. Mostly notably folk metal bands may or may not incorporate traditional instruments such as violins or tin whistles alongside the metal instrumentation. Some bands prefer to rely solely on keyboards to create a folksy atmosphere in their music (such as the first two albums by Russian band Arkona), while others prefer to play folksy lead melodies on electric guitars (such as German band Wolfchant and Norwegian band Storm). Because there are no standard norms for either side of folk metal it has grown considerably since the release of The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth to become one of the most diverse metal genres to exist. Bands can now range from the melodic to the extreme.

Since the genre's genesis, several regional variants of folk metal have also developed, the most notable being Celtic metal, Medieval metal and Oriental metal. The bands Cruachan (from Ireland), Subway to Sally (from Germany) and Orphaned Land (from Israel) are considered to be among the pioneers of each style respectively. While sometimes included under Oriental metal, metal music that makes use of folk elements from Eastern Asia is sometimes considered a folk metal subgenre of its own or distributed among other metal genres. For instance, Tang Dynasty and Fu Xi are both known for incorporating traditional Chinese instrumentation into their music, but the former are normally considered a traditional heavy metal band while the latter are considered a doom metal band.

Yet more terms have been coined that are commonly associated with folk metal: Viking metal and pagan metal. These terms however, while they can refer to folk metal, can just as often refer to another style entirely, the other style often being black metal. Terms such as these are usually used in regard to an artist based on their lyrical themes, rather than the sound of their music and as such artists labelled as such can sound very different from each other.

Folk metal has also often been crossed with other established genres of metal music to form distinct hybrids between two metal styles, where the folk influences may or may not be present in every song the artist writes, such as the power metal act Falconer. It is also not uncommon in modern metal music for folk influences to crop up as a rare occurrence such as in an introductory instrumental or even in a regular song.

The genre has become increasingly popular among metal fans over the years, reaching new heights in the 2000’s. Today folk metal bands hail from all over the world, although the genre itself remains most popular in Europe. Many bands have gained widespread attention from the metal press with bands such as Korpiklaani, Ensiferum and Finntroll numbering among the world’s most successful folk metal bands as of 2011.

Inclusive Folk Metal Genres

Celtic Metal is folk metal that draws specifically on Celtic folk music as a source for it's folk elements.

Medieval Metal is folk metal that draws specifically on medieval music as a source for it's folk elements. It is common for Medieval Metal bands to sing in German.

Oriental Metal is folk metal which draws influence from Middle-Eastern folk music such as Jewish and Arabic. The style tends to be more distinct than either Celtic Metal or Medieval Metal, which many listeners often just call Folk Metal.

- Written by adg211288 with the input of the Metal Music Archives Admin Team

Sub-genre collaborators (shared with Viking Metal):
  • adg211288

folk metal top albums

Showing only albums and EPs | Based on members ratings & MMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

AGALLOCH The Mantle Album Cover The Mantle
AGALLOCH
4.42 | 72 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
CRUACHAN Blood for the Blood God Album Cover Blood for the Blood God
CRUACHAN
4.75 | 8 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
ORPHANED LAND The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR Album Cover The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR
ORPHANED LAND
4.42 | 25 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
SIG:AR:TYR Beyond the North Winds Album Cover Beyond the North Winds
SIG:AR:TYR
4.68 | 8 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
WOLFCHANT A Pagan Storm Album Cover A Pagan Storm
WOLFCHANT
4.77 | 6 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
ELVENKING The Pagan Manifesto Album Cover The Pagan Manifesto
ELVENKING
4.54 | 10 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
MOONSORROW V: Hävitetty Album Cover V: Hävitetty
MOONSORROW
4.36 | 22 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
ELVENKING Heathenreel Album Cover Heathenreel
ELVENKING
4.38 | 16 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
EMPYRIUM Songs of Moors & Misty Fields Album Cover Songs of Moors & Misty Fields
EMPYRIUM
4.47 | 9 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
АРКОНА Слово Album Cover Слово
АРКОНА
4.38 | 13 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
ORPHANED LAND Mabool: The Story of the Three Sons of Seven Album Cover Mabool: The Story of the Three Sons of Seven
ORPHANED LAND
4.23 | 40 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
FALCONER Armod Album Cover Armod
FALCONER
4.35 | 13 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy MMA!

folk metal online videos

folk metal New Releases

.. Album Cover
Tales of a Pathfinder
Album
ATLAS PAIN
Buy this album from MMA partners
.. Album Cover
The Tribes of Witching Souls
EP
TUATHA DE DANANN
Buy this album from MMA partners
.. Album Cover
Shehili
Album
MYRATH
Buy this album from MMA partners

folk metal Music Reviews

MOONSORROW Voimasta ja kunniasta

Album · 2001 · Folk Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Considering themselves “epic heathen metal,” the Helsinki, Finland based MOONSORROW followed in the footsteps of bands like Skyclad and Amorphis to incorporate local folk music flavors into extreme metal and in the process found ways to carve a new niche for themselves. While the band began more as a Norwegian second wave black metal clone, brothers Ville and Henri Sorvali really stepped up their game for the debut “Suden Uni,” which showcased a more sophisticated approach of melding together the aforementioned elements however on their sophomore album VOIMASTA JA KUNNIASTA (“Of Strength And Honor”), MOONSORROW really took a quantum leap in quality and although i didn’t find the debut the least bit uninteresting, on this this one a new synthesis of the disparate sounds certainly did rise to the next level.

While “Suden Uni” was profound, VOIMASTA JA KUNNIASTA introduces the world to a more epic approach of black metal and ethnic folk fusion with a step towards more progressive pastures. One of the distinguishing features of this second full-length offering is the arrival of second guitarist Mitja Harvilahti who along with Henri Sorvali gives the band a much fuller twin guitar attack sound. Dare i say that VOIMASTA JA KUNNIASTA also dishes out much more memorable folk hooks as well? Everything seems to click for the band and their much lauded and idiosyncratic approach to folk metal comes into fruition here. Except for the short instrumental intro, the tracks are quite lengthy ranging from seven and a half minutes to nearly fourteen, however the repetitive folk hooks are mesmerizing even as the black metal bombast pummels the senses.

Generally speaking, MOONSORROW at this stage are clearly a black metal band with the characteristic traits of orotundity that includes incessant tempos, buzzsaw guitar action and tremolo picking as well as shred vocals, percussive blastbeats and muddy distortion however the folk elements take it into an entirely new direction and not just for novelty’s sake. This is a true marriage of ethnic folk and black metal. The folk aspects take the metal into more melodic sophistication that allow the chord progressions to carry a deeper meaning as well as the keyboard rich atmospheric backdrops that have been toned down since the previous album. While “Suden Uni” allowed clean vocal non-metal segments to find their way into the mix, VOIMASTA JA KNNIASTA is pretty much an intense black metal fusion all the way through with only a smattering of acoustic guitar intros and breakdowns popping up from time to time. Clean vocals are reserved for the backing vocals only.

MOONSORROW mastered here a nice collection of five tracks that each have a distinct personality. Some such as “Hiidenpelto - Häpeän Hiljaiset Vedet (”Field of the Devil/The Silent Waters of Shame") focus more on the melodic developments while some like “Aurinko ja Kuu (The Sun And The Moon)” break out a more thrashy metal heft and emphasis on the heaviness without sacrificing the folk intricacies. The true treat is saved for last as the sprawling epic “Sankarihauta (Warrior’s Tale)” begins with sensual ocean wave sounds and slinks on through several developing features which include a health dose of blackened folk metal prowess, a distinct folkened melodic escapade sallies forth into the heat of battle and nice a alternating mix of atmospheric oomf between the metal stomps and acoustic folk inserts. Overall VOIMASTA JA KUNNIASTA is an excellent development in MOONSORROW’s history but personally i don’t think it’s better, just a nice different path to embark upon.

KORPIKLAANI Noita

Album · 2015 · Folk Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Kev Rowland
2015’s ‘Noita’ is quite a confused release from the Finnish folk metallers in many ways, as they often seem to have far more in common with the Viking Metal or Pirate Metal movement than for the one for which they are more well-known (in many ways I guess these are sub genres of the sub-genre of folk metal, so sub-sub-genres). They even include a cover, here called “Jouni Jouni”, which is actually “Mony Mony” (originally by Tommy James and the Shondells, I still like the version by Billy Idol). Like the rest of the album, it’s not bad, but it also isn’t what I really expect from the band. This is their ninth studio album so would have expected something a little better than this.

The most positive thing that can be said about this album is that it is decidedly average, with a distinct lack of consistency and an impression of a band both going through the motions and losing their way. Once can only hope that the next one would be better.

KORPIKLAANI Kulkija

Album · 2018 · Folk Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Kev Rowland
Three years on from their last, Finnsih Folk Metallers Korpiklanni are back with their tenth album ‘Kulkija’, which means ‘Wanderer’. The band state that this album is the closest to their on stage sound, as for tracking they used their tour set up, so will be able to easily perform all of this live. As well as being their longest album to date, in many ways it is also a concept as the wanderer of the album title appears in every song, with each track representing one of his life experiences. For example, opening song “Neito” (which translates to “Maiden”) is about his woman. The road is a wanderer’s bride, a maiden who he misses and who he travels with. However, the real maiden is waiting for his return home. After a journey you may bury your carriage, but the wistful traveller’s songs and music will be carried where it lies. A traveller was born to wander.

It must be said that I am not always a great fan of the folk metal genre, as it often feels that both sides suffer, but this album is definitely one of those where it all works together incredibly well. Far more folk than “just” folk metal, the album has a musical continuity which allows it all to hang together, and although there are times when they allow themselves some metallic guitar, for the most part this feels far more about a logical progression of a musical form as opposed to two opposing styles being brought crashing together. There is a great deal here that pure folkies will find to enjoy, especially with the lyrical violin and the delicate accordion, and one has to wonder what metalheads will think of it. I can imagine this album getting far more play at Cropredy than Wacken, although for some reason I am sure there is more chance of them playing at the latter than the former. Of all their albums I own, this is the one to which I will most often be returning.

ORPHANED LAND Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs

Album · 2018 · Folk Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
The Crow
After the mediocre All Is One and after the departure of the great Yoshi Sassi, my expectations about Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs were low... What a mistake!

Because this album fully retrieves the energy and the magic that this band had in the past, offering their typical mixture between metal, death, progressive and folk with outstanding songwriting. Chen Balbus and Idan Amsalen are fully integrated in the band till the point that Yoshi Sassi is almost not missed here, while the rest of the band makes also a splendid work.

It's very rewarding to hear that while some band like Opeth or Pain of Salvation lost their sound and personality with line-up changes, Orphaned Land retrieves all their elements and characteristic sound throughout the years despite all the members that gave up.

I wish also to mention the great collaborations that this album contains, playing Steve Hackett a fabulous guitar solo in the outstanding Chains Fall to Gravity (one of the most progressive tracks in the whole band's career) and singing Hansi Kürsch (from Blind Guardian) and Thomas Lindberg (At the Gates) in Like Orpheus and Only The Dead Have Seen The End Of The War respectively.

Best Tracks: it's complicated to pick only a few songs, because the overall quality of the album is very high, but The Cave is one of the best Orphaned Land's tracks, All Knowing Eye is touching and Kobi sings great, Chains Fall to Gravity is surprising and very prog, My Brother's Keeper (pure Orphaned Land magic) and The Manifest - Epilogue (precious homage to Victor Jara)

Conclusion: Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs is not only a triumphant return of our favorite Israeli band, it's also one of their finest records. Maybe not so great like Mabool, but at least as good as ORwarriOR. A varied, touching and very well crafted collection of folk-prog-death-metal with a beautiful message inside and tons of memorable songs.

After this album, I can only wish the best of lucks for this bands in the future! You have managed to give me back my faith in you.

My rating: ****

P.S.: this review was originally written for ProgArchives.com

ORPHANED LAND All Is One

Album · 2013 · Folk Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
The Crow
I am sure that All is One was a difficult album to make for Orphaned Land... Moreover, the music shows the band's problems at the time.

Avi Diamond, their drummer in their two previous (and excellent) albums did not return this time, along with their female (and great) singer Shlomit Levi. The founder guitarist Matti Svatitzki also left the band in 2012, and the main guitarist Yoshi Sassi also gave up shortly after the releasing of All is One, being this album his less inspired work.

The result is a disjointed and irregular record, which sounds like a mixture between the epic Mabool and the more intimate and folk ORwarriOR, but without reaching the quality of none of them and showing a worrying inability to bring anything new to the band's career.

Been there, done that feeling the whole time.

The production is fine, and the sound of the album is more orchestral than ever with violins sounding all the time. However, they cannot hide the lack of inspiration (or energy) that this album has with exceptions as the energetic All is One, the beautiful Brother and the epic Our Own Messiah.

Best Tracks: All is One (splendid opener), Brother (the best lyrics of the album), Our Own Messiah (a song which almost achieve to retrieve the magic of ORwarriOR)

Conclusion: All Is One was the reflection of the problems and line-up changes of this great band at the time. I has its good moments and a pair of fine additions to the band's classic song list, but after a the seond or third listening it turns out to be boring, repetitive and not challenging at all, being a clear step back in Orphaned Land's career.

I almost lost my faith in the band with All is One... Fortunately, this would change in 2018 with the release of Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs!

My rating: **

P.S.: this review was originally written for ProgArchives.com

folk metal movie reviews

No folk metal movie reviews posted yet.

Artists with Folk Metal release(s)

folk metal Index

Member Zone

Username:
Password:
Stay signed in

Metal Subgenres

Artists Alpha-index

MMA TOP 5 Metal ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
Master of Puppets Thrash Metal
METALLICA
Buy this album from our partners
Powerslave NWoBHM
IRON MAIDEN
Buy this album from our partners
Rust in Peace Thrash Metal
MEGADETH
Buy this album from our partners
Moving Pictures Hard Rock
RUSH
Buy this album from our partners
Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II Power Metal
HELLOWEEN
Buy this album from our partners

New Metal Artists

New Metal Releases

Revelations of Oblivion Death Metal
POSSESSED
Buy this album from MMA partners
Del amor y otros demonios Power Metal
OPERA MAGNA
Buy this album from MMA partners
Del amor y otros demonios - Acto III Power Metal
OPERA MAGNA
Buy this album from MMA partners
The God Machine US Power Metal
STEEL PROPHET
Buy this album from MMA partners
Subject To Entropy Death Metal
ROGGA JOHANSSON
Buy this album from MMA partners
More new releases

New Metal Online Videos

More videos

New MMA Metal Forum Topics

More in the forums

New Site interactions

More...

Latest Metal News

members-submitted

More in the forums

Social Media

Follow us

Buy Metal Music Online