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.

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


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

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

BATHORY Hammerheart Album Cover Hammerheart
BATHORY
4.22 | 48 ratings
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BATHORY Nordland II Album Cover Nordland II
BATHORY
4.21 | 15 ratings
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MOONSORROW Kivenkantaja Album Cover Kivenkantaja
MOONSORROW
4.18 | 19 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
4.19 | 8 ratings
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BATHORY Twilight of the Gods Album Cover Twilight of the Gods
BATHORY
4.01 | 27 ratings
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BATHORY Nordland I Album Cover Nordland I
BATHORY
3.98 | 17 ratings
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STORM Nordavind Album Cover Nordavind
STORM
4.08 | 6 ratings
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FALKENBACH Heralding: The Fireblade Album Cover Heralding: The Fireblade
FALKENBACH
3.86 | 7 ratings
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FALKENBACH Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty Album Cover Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty
FALKENBACH
3.75 | 6 ratings
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FALKENBACH Tiurida Album Cover Tiurida
FALKENBACH
3.68 | 6 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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BATHORY Nordland II

Album · 2003 · Viking Metal
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Warthur
Nordland II offers up the second crop of songs from the same sessions which yielded Nordland I. For my money, I like this one just a bit better. Both albums are in Bathory's epic viking metal style, but whereas Nordland I seemed to put a bit of a Hollywood soundtrack spin on it to give it a bit more of a widespread appeal, this album feels like it has more aesthetic callbacks to Bathory material past.

Quorthon didn't know he would die before producing another Bathory album, but if you asked him to craft a final album to conclude his career, I suspect it wouldn't be that much different from Nordland II. As an album with one foot in the cutting edge of his final viking metal sound and one foot in earlier iterations of that sound, it's as good an aesthetic retrospective as you could hope for. Flights of valkyries speed thee to Valhalla, Quorthon.

BATHORY Nordland I

Album · 2002 · Viking Metal
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Warthur
The two Nordland albums represent Bathory's late-career return to viking metal; having spent a few albums in a more thrash-oriented style, Quorthon picks up where he left off at 1991's Twilight of the Gods. (Remember, whilst Blood On Ice had come out in 1996, it was originally recorded in between Blood Fire Death and Hammerheart.) Whilst the first Nordland album isn't without its more raucous and extreme moments, such as some sections of Dragons' Breath, by and large the lo-fi evil of early Bathory is well and truly gone here, replaced with viking metal suitable for any Hollywood Norse saga soundtrack album. It's no classic, but it's stirring stuff in its own right.

MOONSORROW Kivenkantaja

Album · 2003 · Viking Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
MOONSORROW had already come a long way after starting as a laughable lumpen gathering of pissed off stray cats that found their way into the lo-fi underworld’s recording studio but quickly found that black metal sounded a tad more original when played with Nordic folk and quaint drinking songs. While not the inventors of the style, the band nevertheless channeled its potential into more fertile grounds and added epic atmospheres, irresistible melodies and legendary subject matter revolving around Norse mythology, paganism and the world of the Vikings. While concocting a satisfying anthemic and heroic style on their first two albums “Suden Uni” and “Voimasta Ja Kunniasta,” MOONSORROW suddenly got the progressive bug and created an even more intense larger than life album with the third release KIVENKANTAJA (“Stonebearer") which showcased a triumphant evolution in compositional fortitude and a knack for pulling out all the punches. Folk tinged extreme metal would never be the same.

In addition to the now established folk remedies and black metal bantering MOONSORROW found a new source of inspiration from neighboring Sweden in the form of Bathory’s Viking metal classic “Hammerheart.” Gone are the blatant drinking song jigs in grim reaper fashion and in are more nuanced compositions that offer the grandiloquence of galloping guitar riffs, epic percussive drive, synthesized cumulous cloud covers and chanting vocal exchanges that alternate between the raspy harsh metal vocals of Ville Sorvali and the powerful clean vocal style of Henri Sorvali backed up by a cranking choir effect. Vikings may have been Norse in origin but MOONSORROW with Finno-Ugric origins proves they have what it takes to summon the proper aural spectres to join their Western neighbors in a good game of pagan ritual worship and pilfering plunder but despite the Viking metal tag so carefully attached to their resume, the band itself insists that their style is nothing more than “epic heathen metal.”

Epic indeed right from the getgo as vocal chants and atmospheric creeping is suddenly rudely interrupted by the twin guitar stomping power of Henri Sorvali’s and Mitja Harvilahti’s pristine precisionism as they navigate the choppy progressive Viking waters and chug out the percussive counterpoints in rhythmic mode save the stray guitar solo fluttering into the sonicscape. Likewise the melodic development is provided by the one two punch of the myriad vocalists in cahoots with the keyboards which provide not only the proper ambient brume of mood setting schemata but also cranks out the extra touches of horn instrument sounds as well as wild woodwinds. Sticking to the Viking metal playbook despite contempt for the term, MOONSORROW bedazzles and enchants with the lush tapestry of folk instrumentation heard from the accordion, jew’s harp and fiddle (through the dirty little finger’s of guest musician Jaakko Lemmetty "Hittavainen.) Add the fretted and fretless bass of Ville Sorvali, the multitude of electric, acoustic and 12-string guitar strums and the percussive prowess of the skin and cymbal smasher in chief, Marko Tarvonen and most a exciting sonic storm is guaranteed to please the metalhead’s sensibiltiies.

Stretched out into five tracks of epic heathen metal splendor, KIVENKANTAJA is stuff that far reaching progressively inclined metal dreams are made of. While the Gregorian chant rich opening “Rauniolla (At The Ruins)” provides a rather gentle false sense of tranquility, the following “Unohduksen Lapsi (Child Of Oblivion)” provides the proper soul crushing metal bombast to keep the headbangers happy all the while layers of synth-drenches atmospheric touches ooze by in the background as the guitars stomp their way into the heat of battle. KIVENKANTAJA is where the classic sound of MOONSORROW gelled into its permanent state of awesomeness as all the ingredients and simmered down into a delectable stew of metal palatability. While the album keeps a great pace of mixing the heavier elements with the softer more sensual folk remedies, the final track provides a departure with a pure Pagan folk ritual along with the feminine divine goddess charm of guest vocalist Petra Lindberg. KIVENKANTAJA is equally as divine without missing a beat and cemented MOONSORROW’s status as one of the premier folk metal bands of the millennium.

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.

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