Viking Metal

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Viking Metal is one of the sub-genres of metal music. As a style it takes ideas also found in Black Metal and Folk Metal, so can be seen as a descendent of them, similar to how power metal descended from speed metal, or stoner metal from doom metal. While this mix forms the basis for viking metal, the genre has diversified over the years, with some artists incorporating symphonic metal, doom metal, death metal and even traditional heavy metal. The genre takes its name from the common lyrical theme of the Viking Age, as well as Norse Mythology in general, which is also regular represented in the artist's imagery and artwork.

The viking metal sound is defined by taking elements of black metal music, though with more clean vocals typically applied than in actual black metal styles, and adding anthemic keyboards and influences from Nordic folk music. Due to its close relationship, many artists can fairly be describing as both viking and black metal or both viking and folk metal, if not all three. Although accepted as a fully-fledged genre in its own right, these crossovers with black metal and folk metal do make it so that what may be considered a 'pure' (or close to it) viking metal release to be comparatively rare next to other genres of metal.

Bathory, a Swedish act that started off by playing black/thrash metal, was a pioneer of the Viking Metal style and remains its best known act, being especially known for the albums Hammerheart (1990) and Twilight of the Gods (1991). Other notable acts of the genre include Mithotyn and Falkenbach.

The viking metal term is often confused with any metal act who writes with a viking theme, the most notable act erroneously identified as viking metal being Sweden's Amon Amarth, who play melodic death metal. The style has also incorrectly been considered to be restricted to Scandinavian artists, another misnomer as viking metal is a musical style and a band can hail from anywhere in the world.

- Style definition written by adg211288.

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Important: The Viking Metal sub-genre on Metal Music Archives is new and as such its contents may not fully reflect all the viking metal artists and releases currently in the database at this time. If you spot something you feel needs moving, please report it via our forum. Thank you.

viking metal top albums

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BATHORY Hammerheart Album Cover Hammerheart
BATHORY
4.21 | 46 ratings
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MOONSORROW Kivenkantaja Album Cover Kivenkantaja
MOONSORROW
4.18 | 18 ratings
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DARK FOREST Land of the Evening Star Album Cover Land of the Evening Star
DARK FOREST
4.21 | 8 ratings
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FALKENBACH ...Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri... Album Cover ...Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri...
FALKENBACH
4.21 | 7 ratings
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BATHORY Twilight of the Gods Album Cover Twilight of the Gods
BATHORY
3.96 | 25 ratings
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STORM Nordavind Album Cover Nordavind
STORM
4.08 | 6 ratings
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BATHORY Nordland II Album Cover Nordland II
BATHORY
3.97 | 12 ratings
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BATHORY Nordland I Album Cover Nordland I
BATHORY
3.89 | 14 ratings
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FALKENBACH Heralding: The Fireblade Album Cover Heralding: The Fireblade
FALKENBACH
3.83 | 6 ratings
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FALKENBACH Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty Album Cover Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty
FALKENBACH
3.70 | 5 ratings
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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!

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viking metal Music Reviews

MOONSORROW Kivenkantaja

Album · 2003 · Viking Metal
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Warthur
I tend to find the whole "folk metal" thing highly hit and miss, particularly when bands don't integrate the two halves of that formula but simply play mediocre metal and mediocre folk music together and hope that the charms of both sides of the equation smooth over the holes. Moonsorrow's Kivenkantaja, on the other hand, absolutely does not do that, integrating the sounds and motifs of Scandinavian folk music into a majestic, sweeping, almost cinematic metal framework. The compositions tend towards longer tracks with epic, progressive rock-esque structures, and the overall effect wouldn't seem out of place as the soundtrack to an adaptation of some pagan saga of ancient days.

FINSTERFORST Mach Dich Frei

Album · 2015 · Viking Metal
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adg211288
Mach Dich Frei (2015) is the fourth full-length album by German folk metal act Finsterforst. I first heard these guys with their previous album Rastlos (2012) and was left with mixed feelings: here was an album made up of mostly long epic length tracks but rarely felt as if the band were justifying such durations even though they had plenty of good ideas scattered throughout the album and the end result was that it dragged on for me. You can understand therefore why I approached Mach Dich Frei with a bit of caution, as here was another album from Finsterforst made up of mostly long tracks, including the near twenty-four minute band titled track closing the album.

Fortunately whatever went wrong on Rastlos has been ironed out of the Finsterforst formula and I've found myself treated not only to an album which doesn't drag in the slightest but one which improves on everything its predecessor did on every level. Idealistically this is much the same as last time but the execution is very much improved. This music instantly shows itself to be really quite powerful stuff, conveying blackened intensity mixed with both atmospheric and epic moods. The symphonic metal elements that the band use in some songs are loud and dramatic while the folk elements sound much more tastefully done than they did on Rastlos. Like with that album you won't be hearing folk sounds all of the time, Finsterforst aren't going to be letting you forget they're a metal band anytime soon (though they do serve up the pure folk instrumental Reise zum.. on here), but I'd still call this a folk metal release overall. Some may prefer to say it has a so called viking metal sound but I never liked that term all that much, though this does certainly fit the description of it I have to grudgingly admit. Fans of either should be lapping Mach Dich Frei up though.

One thing that Mach Dich Frei really does have in common with Rastlos though is that Finsterforst save the best track for last which again is a twenty plus minute epic. Sharing it's name with the band, Finsterforst conveys even more varied ideas within the album's already quite varied style to the point that one could even call it a more progressive take on what the band does. The album is excellent up until this point but the band really pulled out all the stops here. It's quite fitting that the track and band share a name, as I can't name any better song from Mach Dich Frei that really puts across everything good about Finsterforst.

To cut a long story short Finsterforst may have frustrated me with their last album but they've more than made up for it with the release of Mach Dich Frei. Consider this reviewer 100% won over. 4.5 stars.

DARK FOREST Land of the Evening Star

Album · 2012 · Viking Metal
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Warthur
Offering a folksier, gentler vision of symphonic black metal than the bombastic fare offered up by the likes of Emperor and others, Canada's Dark Forest is a one-man project handled by the capable David Parks - one of the few black metal practitioners out there who doesn't lurk behind a spooky pseudonym. This is appropriate enough, since the tone of the album is less dark, less angry, less deliberately hostile than much of the black metal that has preceded it.

Purists might turn their nose up at it as a consequence of this, but I say it takes the genre in an intriguing new direction, riffing on the common black metal desire to celebrate nature, history and heritage without treating hate and negativity as a necessary component of that. Indeed, on his official site Parks describes the musical style of the project as "epic metal", rather than black metal, and you could probably make the case that it's the epic soundscapes crafted here which are the definitive quality of Dark Forest's music rather than the black metal foundation the music is built on.

FINSTERFORST Rastlos

Album · 2012 · Viking Metal
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adg211288
Rastlos is the third full-length album by German folk metal act Finsterforst. It’s been a few years since the release of their prior album ...zum Tode hin (2009) but with the exception of a couple of shorter interlude type tracks which appear on Rastlos, Finsterforst returns with another album comprised of long drawn out tracks, this time ranging from 10:20 to 22:10 minutes in length. With seven songs including the interludes Rastlos is a truly mammoth album.

The pity here is that Rastlos generally doesn’t feel as if each tracks uses those epic durations to the full extent of their potential. Musically speaking Rastlos is the sort of folk metal album which builds upon a black metal base through the lead vocals and instrumentation and then introduces folk elements through instruments such as tin whistles and accordions to provide the more melodic sections, while keyboards and clean vocals also play a role to create this side of the sound. You aren’t going to specifically hear an obvious folk element all the time in an album like Rastlos but you don’t necessarily need to have it for every second of a release for it to still be folk metal, so Rastlos is best described as the sort of folk metal release which favours its metal side over its folk side, which ultimately makes it end up sounding like a true black/folk metal hybrid than some other albums which have combined the styles. The thing is it seems that most of the songs just plod along, utilising some good ideas here and there but ultimately overstaying their welcome.

It’s the sort of album where, while listening to it its very enjoyable for a couple of tracks but by the time we’re getting towards midway through it starts becoming something of an ‘I’ve heard this before experience’. The clean vocals have a nice tone to them which works with the folk side of the band well but they also lack variation, sounding the same pretty much every time they are used while the album is general feels quite formulaic. All the main songs carry the same kind of melancholic approach to making folk metal and while this works for the band it would be nice if they threw a few surprises into the mix. If you think the long songs mean you’ll get something progressive on Rastlos then think again, as the album is decidedly un-progressive. If it had been, it may have worked better than it does. Additionally the interlude tracks come across as somewhat useless.

Ironically by the time we get to the end of the album and the 22:10 minute track Flammenrausch, things seem to suddenly go right for Finsterforst and they produced not only the best song on the album, but also proved that they can use such long running times to their full potential. I’m just rather flummoxed as to why it took until the final song for everything to come together for them. I still wouldn’t call the track top tier material, but it comes a lot closer than everything that comes before it.

Rastlos is one of those albums which is truly frustrating as with a bit of trimming I may have come away from this one feeling a lot more positive. Although they featured shorter songs on their debut album Weltenkraft (2007) the whole long songs thing seems to have become a Finsterforst thing over the last couple of albums and while I can’t say how well it may have worked on ...zum Tode hin, as I haven’t heard that album, I’m quite disappointed by the ultimate execution of Rastlos, where all the songs have some great stuff to offer but the album as a whole just doesn’t quite manage to sit right with me. Still, Rastlos is a satisfying album in small doses, so a good album tier rating is deserved.

73/100

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))

DARK FOREST Land of the Evening Star

Album · 2012 · Viking Metal
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adg211288
Land of the Evening Star is the second album by Canadian one man black metal project Dark Forest. The album was released in 2012 and is a long awaited release for Dark Forest’s fans since the debut album, Aurora Borealis, was released back in 2006. David Parks is the man behind the project, performing all instruments and vocals, and in Land of the Evening Star he’s produced an album that should be very well worth the long wait.

Dark Forest’s music is easily placed at the most epic end of the black metal spectrum. Atmospheric, symphonic, progressive, and even vaguely folksy in some parts, Land of the Evening Star is a one-man tour de force of epic black metal and forty-five minutes of pure listening pleasure. This is not typical black metal by any means; featuring a clear sound, a focus on melody with a mix of growling and clean vocals. The best way to describe the land though is a musical journey. One that begins with the introductory track Rediscovery of the New World and proceeds to take the listener through the various moods of black metal music mentioned above until it’s conclusion with Bjarne Herjúlfsson ca. 985CE, having kept the quality on a consistently high level throughout with excellent tracks such as Like Towers They Reach To The Sky, Vesperia, and the just shy of nine minute piece A Few Acres Of Snow, a well varied piece that holds many claims to being the best on the album.

It’s funny for me, but I only discovered the existence of this Dark Forest while exploring a complete different one; one that is rooted not in black metal but traditional metal and is found in the United Kingdom and ironically seems to be the less well known band. Having become a fan of that band already for some reason I ignored the existence of the Canadian Dark Forest for quite some time, which was ultimately my loss, which is ultimately the point of this little story; Dark Forest (yes, that’s this Dark Forest) has made the sort of black metal album that I don’t come across very often, one that pushes the boundaries of the style into something quite far removed from the template left by the early Norwegian bands, and skipping over an album like Land of the Evening Star, no matter the reason, will only be to one’s own loss. An exceptional grade rating is easily deserved.

9.0/10

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org) on 08/09/2012)

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