Cargest: I've listened to it twice now, and I like it a lot! I AM a fan of "folkish" metal (although the genre, itself, does not have many instances of high quality successes). Besides Graveland, Bathory, Enslaved, Isengard, and Veles, folk/pagan/viking metal is pretty sad. So I actually think it's a good idea to try to operate within that "genre," for that very reason.
Let me preface by saying I have no academic background in music whatsoever. Quite honestly, I can only talk about music in vague terms and more or less explain my "feelings." Also, I am a "sympathetic" audience in that, initially, I usually have positive feelings, no matter what, regarding the book I'm reading or CD I'm listening to. I find this is the best way to BEGIN your experience when acquainting yourself w/ a new piece of art. I just get excited for something new! I'm simple and naive that way. But here we go:
1. It's unpretentious and straightforward. No goofing around - you get right into the metal.
2. I would describe the sound as "noble" and "proud" (I can, indeed, here the Graveland influence). I definitely like that it's not "Norsecore."
3. As far as I can tell, the general idea being expressed in the music is: The glorious past is still alive! (I'm being as broad as possible).
4. Too vocal-centric. I like the SOUND of the vocals (reminds me of Isengard), but there are just too many lyrics for my taste. I love it when black metal is sparse on the lyrics. Let the music do the work.
5. "Boring" riffs are not the problem, but perhaps you need some more "solemn" moments. As it is, the first 2 tracks are pretty damn rollicking. Listen to "Hostmorke" by Isengard to maybe get an idea of what I'm talking about.
OK, let's look at the big picture. Folk metal seems like a good place to do some exploration, but here's the potential pitfall that perhaps you're already beginning to fall into: amidst all the boisterous pride (which is not necessarily a bad thing) that your music offers, sentimentality and human emotion can begin to creep in. I view this as a bad thing. Metal wants to eschew the human drama. It regularly gets talked about on this forum. Most recently in this thread
. It's basically the #1 reason for why I like metal: Metal transcends the human perspective and laughs at how puny we are! Take Sort Vokter, for example, there is nothing "human" about Folkloric Necro Metal
at all! And yet there is still an "earthiness" about it. And that is a landmark album, would you not agree? Your goal should be to show us a perspective as far away from human as possible. I think cutting down on the lyrics (and, therefore, the human voice) would be a practical and literal way to get the ball rolling.
The worst thing somebody can say about your music is: "I can relate to that." You need to give us something NEW, something INHUMAN, something we CANNOT relate to - the Sublime, the voice of God, mystery, terror, the imperceivable. You need to be ABOVE the fray. You need to express something by sound that cannot be expressed by language.
One of my favorite albums ever is Thousand Swords
and you cited Graveland, so I'm going to muse: TS
expresses an enthusiasm and pride, but also a solemnity and stoicism. This results in a truly majestic
sound. Even though it's the soundtrack of war, there is so much DIGNITY. The amount of lyrics is perfect. The riffs are sometimes boring on a micro level, but it's irrelevant. Above all, it manages to sound "solar" in a "lunar" genre. The solar aspect of metal has still not sufficiently been explored. This isn't just folk metal, it sounds like the beginning of something that metal has still not managed to build.
EDIT: I listened to it a 3rd time last night and I still like it. In fact it was better than the first 2 times. I'm not sure it will stand the real long test of time, but there's enough potential here to get me fairly excited. Plus I respect that you're a fellow forum member essentially creating a metal act right in front of us (so it would seem). I would even say that perhaps there IS a sense of solemnity that I didn't pick up on before and that the lyrics aren't all that superfluous after all. I guess sparse lyrics and solemn moments are just aesthetic choices I GENERALLY prefer - nevertheless, it's still something to think about I would say.