The Difficulties of Folk Metal: Part II


Article by Johan P.

This text is a continuation of the previously published article, The Difficulties of Folk Metal. As stated in Part I, the threefold aim of this multi-part article is, in rough terms, to: 1. Give a short introduction to the subject, 2. Point out some of the difficulties connected with integrating folk music into metal and finally, 3. Provide alternative methods of integration. Part II will be dedicated to the second part of this quest.

Naturally, there are limits regarding the scope of my endeavor – the most obvious demarcation being that the article primarily focuses on Swedish folk music. In my view, the critique of folk metal is an ongoing project, and this article should not be seen as an exhaustive treatment of the subject at hand.

So, if someone else out there finds the subject interesting, you are more than welcome to make contributions. It could be in the form of additional material (metal or folk related) and complementary ideas to enhance the project. For example, the depth and applicability of the arguments presented below would surely benefit if the scope could be expanded to include other forms of traditional music.

I. Points of Departure

Synergy – The Holy Grail of Folk Metal

In an ideal case, the merging of folk and metal would result in a musical synergy effect, meaning that the interaction between the respective parts (folk and metal) leads to a mutual strengthening and consequently results in a product that is qualitatively better than the sum of its parts. If this is not the outcome, the mission has failed to some degree. As it is now, the metal/folk-mix has almost exclusively resulted in a negative synergy. By bringing together the worst aspects of respective genre – and severely distorting the better aspects – both parts are weakened. This relates to the argument Fenriz presented in the interview referred to in Part I, and it seems like a reasonable case in point to why the world of metal and traditional music should not mix. However, this is an obstacle that could be overcome if dealt with properly, but it has to be recognized to begin with.

Melody – The Road to Hel

One of my main objections against what has previously been produced under the banner of folk metal – as defined in the first article – concerns folk metal bands’ simplification, adulteration and general misuse of traditional music when incorporated into their compositions. This negative distortion reveals itself in different ways to varying degrees.

In cases where an influence from traditional Swedish music manifests itself in metal, the most frequently occurring misapplication occur when melodic material is lifted from folk music. This includes cases where bands use melodies directly borrowed from traditional sources, as well as original folk-influenced melodies composed by the band members themselves.

The tendency of folk metal bands to mistreat folk-tinged melodies often results in their music being hampered by that influence instead of enhanced. Their melodies sound too happy, bouncy, simple, one-dimensional, obvious, or just goofy. Naturally, weak melodies have negative effect on the music as a whole. The list of unwanted results could go on and on. So, what is it that leads these bands on a dead-end road? Below, I’ve tried to construct a model of explanation based on these issues.

II. A Model of Explanation

The failures of folk metal bands to compose a convincing blend of metal and folk manifests itself in different ways, but most of them can be traced back to the following:

1. Lack of understanding or disregard of the constituent parts of the genres at hand, in this case traditional Swedish folk music AND/OR the type of metal music played. Limited knowledge or lack of effort to understand the construction and function of, for example, melody in each respective type of music results in, among other things, clumsy, block-headed melodic adaptions with zero recognition of folk music’s melodic refinement or what makes a good metal riff for that matter.

2. Inabilities to merge the respective musical styles in an adequate and relevant manner. A forceful bringing together of musical worlds and customs. Like taking a melody out of its original context and inserting it into a pre-formed template with mechanisms that are completely alien to it. It could also be the case that the original melody is severely altered to fit into the new context. Leaves the listener with a sense of the music being an arbitrary, synthesized product.

3. Want of purpose or inability to fulfill a purpose permeates the music. Why bring these disparate genres together in the first place? The only visible purpose with the “imported” or self-composed folk melodies often seems to be a quest for novelty.

To test the validity of this little homespun model, I’ve used it as a mental checklist of sorts when listening to (and suffering my way through) a handful of folk metal albums. Dealing primarily with the difficulty of using melodic ideas in a metal context, this article conclude with a review of an album by one of the more popular Swedish folk metal acts.

III. Månegarm – Vredens Tid (2005)


Among the steadily growing horde of Nordic folk metal bands, Månegarm can be regarded as veterans at this stage. The band officially began their activities in the mid-90s as a melodic black metal band, but have since then drifted closer to a pseudo-folk influenced traditional metal sound with traces of extreme metal technique. This stylistic makeover, combined with their Viking aesthetic have brought them an increased popularity, and they are today one of the Nordic standard-bearers of the folk metal genre. On their fourth full-length album Vredens Tid (The Age of Wrath) they clearly settled into their current mode of expression. It is an ambitious and professional production, emblazoned with conceptual art done by the respected metal-artist Kris Verwimp. However, the slick surface cannot cover up the weakness of the music for long.

As a premonition to what awaits the listener, the front cover is drowned in genre tropes. The center of the fold-out cover art depicts a grumpy troll smashing a church tower, while a flock of panicking Christians flee towards a pagan rock formation situated on a slope in proximity to the church – a symbol of the people returning to their roots? The violent scene depicted here – with all the usual pro-pagan/anti-christian connotations found in more extreme forms of folk metal – is actually narrated in one of the album’s songs. Quite good for a chuckle, but the visual, lyrical and musical depiction of pagan triumph presented on the cover and in the song “Kolöga Trolltand” is more akin to a Hollywood-style movie than folklore-inspired storytelling.

This streak of artificiality and gimmick runs through most musical aspects of the album. When it comes to the metal side of things, everything here has been done better elsewhere. Vestiges of disparate genres of metal are present, but they have been neutered in order to fit them into a larger scheme. Buzzing extreme metal rhythm-riffing, galloping power metal tempos, late Iron Maiden-melodies, Swedish punk rock, hockey choruses, angry Viking guy vocals and whatnot are crammed into a shell of harmless heavy metal.

Most songs on Vredens Tid lack individual character and powerful momentum – it is not a good heavy metal record. The persistent employment of simple tricks like sing-along sections makes this even more obvious. So, in order to spice up a hopelessly mediocre stew the band resorts to the age old solution of bringing in a novel, preferably exotic element – in this case Swedish folk music. Månegarm have played this card for most of their career, and not without ambition. They’ve experimented with folk-influenced melodies ever since their second demo as far as I know, and their line-up even includes a traditional violinist. Still, there is something suspicious about the whole affair.

The folk parts are more like souvenir versions of the real thing, simplified and easily digestible. This attempt to achieve a credible mix of metal and folk fails on two grounds. First, the individual folk derived parts found on the album (primarily melodies) aren’t good enough and second, these parts are badly integrated into the composition as a whole. Månegarm are not alone in this, it seems to be the most common set of mistakes perpetrated by aspiring folk metal bands. Therefore, it is a phenomenon worth taking a look at.

Faux-Folk Melodies & Simplification as Adaptive Tools

There are melodies on Vredens Tid that – at best – bear an outward resemblance to actual folk music. A folky surface is created through the use of certain timbres (produced by a fiddle or a guitar), and rudimentary techniques (playing within certain scales). However, since there is no underlying firmament to support the construction, these hummable but shallow melodies pass by as though nothing ever happened. It doesn’t help that they are designed for instant gratification, they are too bland to even work as hooks.

Once or twice during the album a longer melody unfolds itself and lights a glimmer of hope. But without the internal dialectic or developmental potential of a good folk melody (or a good metal riff, for that matter), these melodies have nowhere to go, and end up sounding flat and uninspired. Since these are often performed alone “on top” of the metal music, without other complimentary melodies to interact with, they quickly grind to a halt, only to be repeated again without variation.

The deceptive nature of these quasi-folk melodies affects the eventual merging of metal and traditional music on the album. Once again, on the surface things proceed relatively smoothly. There are no visible seams or major clashes between the two musical genres – harmony seems to prevail. These songs do not suffer from the same degree of episodic song writing as Satyricon‘s Dark Medieval Times for example, where the metal and folk parts are clumsily separated from each other. There is a different, perhaps more serious flaw in the integration on Vredens Tid.

Instead of bridging the two musical worlds, the folk melodies have been radically simplified – as described in the paragraphs above – to fit easier into metal songs. It is this manipulation, rather than a thoroughly done integration that makes these songs so easily digestible and ultimately forgettable. It would require serious work for Månegarm to bring a real traditional melody into their music without too much simplification. The result would probably be more interesting than this.

Since the melodies lack clear character, they could try giving them a more pronounced rhythmical feel, which would bring them closer to real folk music. In their current form, the melodies sound too obsequious towards the rest of the music. They constantly fall in line with the rock-stomp and what else is happening around them, maybe out of fear of exposing their inherent blandness. It is probably too much to ask for better melodies here, but at least they could have been performed in more interesting ways. Listen and look at the videos presented below. The first one features a performance by a modern trio of Swedish musicians called Frifot, which gives a glimpse of melodic folk music that is also rhythmically intense.

So, is there really any point in merging folk music and metal other than as a quest for novelty? It is easy to succumb to fatalism regarding the potential of folk metal after spending too much time with albums like Vredens Tid. The desired synergy effect I mentioned earlier is reversed. Combining mediocre metal with an abundance of faux-folk elements in the form of cheap, instantly gratifying hooks results in something far worse than a bad, but plain heavy metal record – at least to my ears. However, this does not mean that composing folk metal should solely be a quest for authenticity for its own sake. If that was the case, I can see no point in mixing two genres like folk and metal to start with. The point is simply to import those aspects of folk music that can in any way enhance metal. The difficulties lie in figuring out what to use, how to use it and why to use it.

III. Eastern Alternatives: Nokturnal Mortum

nokturnal mortum the voice of steel

I’d like to end this article on a slightly less pessimistic note. Against all odds, there’s one album bearing similarities to Vredens Tid that is at the same time its opposite in terms of content and quality. In 2012, Ukraine’s Nokturnal Mortum released what is arguably their most ambitious and listenable album: The Voice of Steel. It features a similar mix of musical and aesthetic elements that Månegarm have worked with for most of their career – a blend of black metal, heavy metal and folk music draped in traditional symbolism. They do sound somewhat alike on a surface level, but Nokturnal Mortum is the superior band, much thanks to their compositional skill and ability to make something meaningful of their influences. Personally, I had given up my hopes on these Ukrainians after Nechrist, but after reading David Rosales’ splendid review of The Voice of Steel, I decided to give them a second chance.

At a quick glance, it is tempting to dismiss the compositions on The Voice of Steel as hopelessly rock-derived, with their grating guitar solos, inviting choruses and timbrel similarities to whatever is on FM rock radio at the moment. Repeated listening has – at least for me – resulted in a readjustment of judgement. As the initial aesthetic shock of this monster of an album begins to wear of, the finer aspects of composition and creative vision reveals themselves. The eclectic, but gradual revelatory nature of Nokurnal Mortum’s compositions – I’d prefer to call the songs vivid rather than overblown – are reminiscent of the best of progressive rock and fits very well with this style of metal.

Judging from the steady stream of dissappointing albums produced within the folk metal field, it is tempting to dismiss the genre at large. However, Nokturnal Mortum shows that there is still hope for a potential creative re-birth of folk-inspired heavy metal music.

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42 thoughts on “The Difficulties of Folk Metal: Part II”

  1. Ludvig B.B (vOddy) says:

    Scandinavian folk music has such different melodies compared to metal that they have to be simplified to the point of not sounding like folk melodies any more, in order to fit.

    At that point they’re just the same as anything else, but with a different timbre.

    1. Rainer Weikusat says:

      If you look at the folk example, you’ll note that it has three voices (or two voices and an accompaniement) which collectively make the music happen. I’m tempted to call this polyphonic but I’m probably misusing the term. In contrast to this, metal usually has one leading voice and the other instruments add colorations to that (I’m tempted to call this homophonic but …). This implies that metalling a folk will cause it to sound flat: It’ll end up as one voice playing a simple melody plus auxilliary background which doesn’t really fit. Manegarm is a good example of that (I couldn’t stand this for long, hence, that’s based on scant knowledge).

      1. Johan P says:

        Can you imagine the suffering I had to endure while listening to that Månegarm record all the way through, several times?

      2. Johan P says:

        Yep, that is one of the things metal musicians could learn from folk music. Like learning contrapuntal composition from Bach.

      3. LostInTheANUS says:

        There are metal bands which really mastered contrapuntal composition (look at Far Away from the Sun, for example). Thing is, good use of polyphony in metal is extremely rare and I don’t know one such band that plays folk metal.

      4. Ludvig B.B (vOddy) says:

        Månegarm is not good. Sometimes they border on rock rather than metal, and they don’t actually have what is good about Swedish folk music, not even the parts that I think are compatible with metal.

        A lot of metal is monophonic (it’s a real word), especially death metal. Death metal focuses less on creating lush counterpoint and polyphony. Instead, the value comes more from which order things are arranged in.
        There are exceptions, but it’s a real trend.

        However, metal is such a wide genre, as it is an attitude which then colours the music, that the very opposite of what I described also exists in metal. Summoning, for example, gets away with very simple tune structures, because they have so many instruments playing different things in consonant polyphony.

        1. C.M. says:

          Somebody (one of the authors around here, perhaps?) made this distinction between “vertical complexity” and “horizontal complexity”, those two imaginary axes referring to notes and their temporal position. So, as you said, death metal (and most metal in general) is horizontally complex (having lots of changes over time) but vertically simple (having the strings play only one or two notes at any given time). Meanwhile music like that of Bach is vertically complex because its dynamics come as much from harmonic development as horizontal movement.

          I can’t think of much music that is vertically complex but horizontally simple. Hip-hop, maybe, or some other style based on stacks of looped samples.

    2. Johan P says:

      You should keep developing this idea of yours. How did it go with your text?

  2. Ludvig B.B (vOddy) says:

    The influence of folk music in metal should be like any other influence. Many creators of good metal were influenced by orchestral music, but they didn’t try to make it so obvious. They just took what they learned from it and applied it to metal.

  3. dude could you not says:

    The spirit of European (let’s be real, metal is mostly for white people) folk music best manifests in metal that doesn’t TRY to have a folk influence: Absurd’s Facta Loquuntur, Burzum, early Gorgoroth, etc. This sort of music is an archetype, you don’t TRY to channel, it emerges naturally when you write music in an honest way.

    Out of all the metal that consciously adopts folk, Isengard is the best. No carnival shit, Fenriz was able to live inside the idiom in a way the Ukrainian/Finnish ewok music bands can’t. I’m also enjoying Goatmoon’s Finnish Steel Storm quite a bit lately, even though the melodies can be a bit too “high fructose.”

    1. C.M. says:

      That Goatmoon album is indeed a cool one!

    2. Johan P says:

      You make some excellent points. I tend to agree with you that the best folk-influenced metal are the less obvious ones. Someone pointed out that I should write about Following the Voice of Blood, which is probably one of the best examples of this. I haven’t heard the Goatmoon rec, so I can’t comment on that (I will check it out though).

      And yes, most bands in this genre fails – with the finnish/eastern bands topping that league. This music is, as you wrote, post-modern in the worst way possible. The reason for including the Nokturnal Mortum album was to show that it is still possible to make a decent album even within a highly flawed style.

      1. Johan P says:

        Haha Sorry man you did not write that it was postmodern (that was in your other comment).

      2. dude could you not says:

        How do you rank Carpathian Wolves and Immortal Pride? Two very good albums that nowadays seem lost at the wayside as a result of sharing a discography with Thousand Swords etc. The former probably where the potential of Darken’s repetitive “cyclical” songwriting was most fully realized thanks to great riff micromanagement (check out that floaty ambient guitar-synth counterpoint in Pagan Samhain Night, or any of the galloping classic metal parts littered through the album, or…). Graveland never sounded more like some savage nocturnal beast.

        The latter a naive but moving and elegiac reflection on war with equal ugliness and suffering as much as glory (which is what makes Blood Fire Death so powerful) that transcends its own limitations: obvious synth, weird lumbering e-drums.

        1. Johan P says:

          Carpathian Wolves is very much overlooked. If another bm-band had produces this, it would in most cases rank as their prime material. In a way, it is also Darkens most atmospheric album IMO. Especially that track you mentioned, “At the Pagan Samhain Night” – one of his best in the older style. I’ll have to listen to it on repeat for some time if I’m to elaborate on eventual folk influences though since I haven’t listened to it for a long time.

          Immortal Pride must be Graveland’s largest tribute to Bathory. It was a letdown for sure after his/their earlier series of classic albums but it ain’t as bad as some want it to be. Like C.W., I haven’t given it a spin for years so it’s about time!

          Thanks for mentioning GOATMOON btw. Pretty good hardcore-ish (NS) black metal! Some parts remind me of VLAD TEPES’s brief moments of brilliance. I’m not sure I like the more explicit (and fruity) folk-parts, but they do add some dynamics and variation.

  4. dude could you not says:

    another thing, a big problem this genre has is how buried our own heritage is. When you listen to recordings of Chinese or Indonesian traditional music played by people untouched by postmodern academia, it’s a revelation: it’s not new agey weepy NPR wallpaper music, it’s brutal, it’s raw, and has an aura of reverence. Westerners don’t really have the liberty to hear their own folk music in such an authentic way, at least the pre-Christian era kind. Our cultural references for what the European Pagans’ music sounded like are sanitized Hollywood bullshit.

    1. Ludvig B.B (vOddy) says:

      I can only speak for Scandinavia, but the reason we don’t have our pre Christian music is that it was never written down before that culture died. We know from texts that they had music for various occassions, like rituals and festivities, but we don’t know what the music sounded like.
      We do, however, have two sources which complain about the growling vocals of the Norse: One Arabic and one Roman.

      I speculate that their music was melodically driven, possibly with a developed rhythmic side to it, like medieval Nordic folk music, and most likely with very primitive harmony. If what came later didn’t have it, what came earlier probably didn’t either.

      My hypothesis is basically that it was a more primitive, simpler version of what came later.

      1. Norse religious rites also had falsetto chants.

      2. LostInTheANUS says:

        It’s the same deal with Slavic and Finnish pre-Christianity. Almost all sources on Nordic, Slavic and Finnish culture in all its forms (rites, mythology, music, mentality etc.) has been written by Christians.

    2. Johan P says:

      So called “viking metal” is a good example of this. I’d like to do a little treatise on the idiocy of trying to play viking music.

  5. Power of will says:

    This is the closest folk(ish) metal comes to folk music to my knowledge. It also lacks the cheesy beer metal party music connotations, or third-rate black metal quasi-grim posturing that most acts possess, while still being upbeat.

    1. Ludvig B.B (vOddy) says:

      This is genuinely related to folk music. I’ve only heard 60 seconds of it so I can’t say whether I think it’s good or not.

      1. Rainer Weikusat says:

        Yes. And we’re genuinely related to round lettuce. All just a matter of perspective.

        1. Ludvig B.B (vOddy) says:

          Take this nonsense out of here.

          All life is related on our planet, but some life is more closely related.
          Rattus rattus is more related to Rattus norvegicus than it is to homo sapiens.

          This music is more closely related to Scandinavian folk music than, for example, Ensiferum.

          1. Rainer Weikusat says:

            I went through about 15 minutes of this and to me, this seemed very much like bad metal with gimmicky folk elements (or vice-versa), just more elaborately constructed than Ensiferum (which is IMHO completely beyond discussion). Take the sung two voices opening part (I’m close to the limits of my English here): As one of the voices is high and the other low, this appears as if they were doing different things but they actually aren’t as they’re moving in tandem. In contrast to this, the Loudest Whisper track has some independent movement in different voices in the 2nd and 3rd part.

            1. Ludvig B.B (vOddy) says:

              I didn’t say it was good. I said that unlike many folk metal bands, they actually have elements of folk music.

        2. Power of will says:

          Some prog just sounds very pompous, while others don`t. How can this be?

    2. Johan P says:

      Every time I hear Otyg mentioned, their cover of “Holy Diver” starts ringing in my head. For those who are familiar with the Swedish language and its dialects, this band is kind of entertaining to listen to. The singer has a heavily northern accent IIRC.

  6. Rainer Weikusat says:

    Melk or fotal or metak or foll?

    This is going to become an attempt at an argument why folk metal is a lost cause and why it would be undesirable if it wasn’t.

    How dou yo want to do that? Folk is not only a certain musical style, it’s also closely associated with traditional instruments used to play folk. For obvious reasons, electric guitars don’t belong into this category. It’s possible to play folk-style stuff with ‘metal instruments’ (or ‘rock instruments’, for that matter) to create hybrids which can be more or less well-done (IMHO, the Children of Lyr Overture belongs into the »rather well-done« category) but the result is really going to be neither folk nor metal: It will be annoying to people who are into folk because of the absolutely un-folk instrumentation and annoying to those who are not because of the folk style. At the very best, the end-result will appeal to anonymous Manowar fans who have yet to find their true calling if it leans more towards metal or to boy-friends of girl-friends who consider themselves folkies otherwise. It’s really Dylan gone electrict all over again.

    Folk is dead. This kind of music is really associated with the predominantly agrarian villages and small towns culture of the past, especially, with its small audiences and technical limitations. People used to make (often badly played) music with acoustic instruments at village dances in the past because there was no other choice and this worked because 20km used to be a large distance. Nowadays, everyone living in the countryside has a car or at least knows someone who has one and it’s impossible to have an acousting dance band for large audience of people from all of the nowadays neighbouring villages because it’s simply not loud enough to be heard. Present-day country dances rely on simple-minded techno instead of badly played traditional instruments and the audience wouldn’t care if this was different. They want something upbeat and simple (this is not a condemnation) for drinking, dancing and socialising and boys-meeting-girls events.

    Academically revivelled folk is for dead people. It sounds nice and isn’t too loud, making it the ideal background for people who care more for self-sophistication and drinking the right wines than for music. They also like the cultural connonations but only for as long as they are a mere talking point. Insofar the music happens to be good enough that it would deserve attention, it won’t get any as it’s status is the same as that of pictures on the wall or a picturesque scene outside of a window.

    Folk is nice. But life typically isn’t unless it happens mostly on a sofa carefully isolated from the real world.

    Primitive song about murderous vampire whores to go with that:

    1. Johan P says:

      That doesn’t mean that it is impossible for a metal band to learn from folk music, does it? Authenticity for its own sake is not desirable, however.

      1. Rainer Weikusat says:

        Using some music which doesn’t exist as example:

        In my honest opinion, there’s no way to play this on an electrically amplified guitar without destroying its character completely and likewise, there’s no way to play ‘metal’ in this style without it ceasing to be metal. And I happen to like both so I want neither.

        1. Ludvig B.B (vOddy) says:

          That’s American (settler, not native) folk music. Nothing that applies to American folk music necessarily applies to Scandinavian folk music.

          I have heard a folk tune, Barkbrödslåten, played with electric guitars, and it kept the character just fine.
          It would work on many instruments: Acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, harpsichord, violin, and nyckelharpa, to name a few. The instrument will always colour the tune, but that’s not a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with transcribing a violin concerto to harpsichord, or in changing the instrument in a folk tune. It’s been done for a long time.

          Barkbrödslåten, violin:
          Barkbrödslåten, harmonica:
          Barkbrödslåten, electric guitar:

          Hårgalåten, electric guitar and violin:
          Hårgalåten, choir:

          Playing this folk music on electric guitar is completely feasible. But, doing so isn’t metal. It’s folk music.
          In its pure, unmutated, undiluted form, it can not simply be superimposed on to metal.

          1. Ludvig B.B (vOddy) says:

            Putting metal and folk in to the same music as they are is not what any one is in favour of. This article makes that clear.
            What I am saying is that if people insist on taking inspiration from folk music (which is a valid source) for their metal, then they should apply higher level synthesis to only take from folk music that which would work in metal, or to synthesize it in a way that creates something new.

          2. Rainer Weikusat says:

            Restricting myself to the first example: This may be based on three different groups of people doing something with different kinds of instruments someone defined as resulting in the same melody as transcribed on a sheet but it’s different everytime. In particular, the violin track sounds good, the harmonica experiment makes me think the guy must be drunk or something as he keeps falling out of the melody into ‘strange noises’ (I’ve spent quite some time of my life playing harmonicas and I claim to know a little about that from a practical standpoint) and the ‘electrified folk’ group is just awful: Schlagermusik as that would be called in German, a cheap plastic imitation in pleasantly unexciting pastel colours.

    2. C.M. says:

      I’d rather sit on my sofa and listen to Finntroll than a band with a song called “Mephistophallus In Occultopussy”. That’s a band for people who care more for sounding clever in the comments section of a metal blog than the music.

      1. Rainer Weikusat says:

        I can’t stop the vocalist from coming up with song titles he and his girl-friend/ wife (both very likely native speakers of Portugese) consider cute word plays in English, although I admit that the sheer silliness of this one has something going for it.

    3. Ludvig B.B (vOddy) says:

      It’s in a healthier state than metal in Sweden.
      Those musicians at least play the classics live, instead of pumping out mediocre album after album.

      1. Ludvig B.B (vOddy) says:

        In response to: “Folk is dead. This kind of music is really associated with the predominantly agrarian villages and small towns culture of the past”

      2. Rainer Weikusat says:

        I’m unsure if »play the classics live« is supposed to mean that’s all they play. The first part of the answer is based on the assumption that this is so (or at least the the classics predominate):

        That’s pretty much a definition of dead: The canon is closed, there’s a more or less unanimous consense about the relative merits of each piece it contains and people who have proper musical training before »Best of Swedish Folk« for an audience interested in exactly that. In contrast to this »pumping out mediocre album after album« implies alive: mostly newly created things are – at best – mediocre, just like all the already existing things created earlier. But people keep recording new music as other people are still interested in that, as opposed to retreating into a shed whose walls are lined with »the classics« and (grumpily) slamming the door shut on the world.

        I started caring for metal again around October last year (after years of entertaining the thought that I should really rather do that). Swedish release which accumulated here so far would be (from the back):

        Firespawn, Shadow Realms: I like Folkare’s guitar playing. LG Petrov is in imminent danger of becoming the Joe Cocker of death metal, though. Nevertheless, the are times when Lucifer Has Spoken is just right.

        Entrails, Obliteration: Better than the last but average at best. Pretty bass-heavy, something I do like. Epitome of Death is a cool track, though.

        Unleashed, Dawn of the Nine: For Folkare, see above. Took me some time to get used to that because I loath NWOBHM but I like it meanwhile although I don’t listen to it very often. Very rocky in certain parts.

        Bloodbath, Grand Morbid Funeral: I need to listen to this again. Anne is very cool, also Church of Vastitas. I like Nick Holme’s voice but Paradise Lost not so much. Very dissonant. I like that, too.

        Interment, Scent Of The Buried: The first three tracks are very traditional Swedish death metal, afterwards, the albums turns into something completely different. I like all of this.

        Miasmal, Tides Of Omnisicience: Newer band (3rd album). Very melodic but I like it nevertheless, especially the lead guitar. Not suitable of people who get mental ulcers when exposed to (hard) rock styled solos. Also interesting because the drummer plays a fairly downsized kit for a death metal band.

        Gutter Instinct, Age Of The Fanatics: New band (debut, actually). Very noisy on the surface but absolutely incredible in the (so far rare) moments when the music unfolds. Reminds me of Norwegian black metal in its dissonantness. I expect better stuff from them in the future.

        Grave, Out Of Respect For The Dead: Some people don’t like Grave. Other people like blueberry muffins. Yet other people like watching telly. Or whatnot. I don’t have to understand all of the craziness of this world.

        I’ll be 44 in two months but I don’t quite feel like turning into museum artefact weekly dusted off by professional carers yet. Maybe in future. We’ll see what that brings.

  7. theheaviestbanjo says:

    The real difficulty is finding a cvlt tunic.

    1. OliveFox says:

      Or a Crwth crafted from the hewn pieces of a tree Ent’s face.

  8. You know... says:

    The world needs more polka metal.

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