SKÁLMÖLD - Börn Loka

Skálmöld - Börn Loka

10 songs
52:35 minutes
***** ****


Usually I am not overly fond of Viking metal bands. Back in the late Eighties, I was of course also more than just a little awed by Bathory’s two groundbreaking pioneer albums Hammerheart and Twilight Of The Gods, which both showed how a once black metal band could evolve into something entirely different. But most of the bands that followed that trend were just plain uninteresting to me. But sometimes there are exceptions to the rule, like Skálmöld from Iceland. Founded in 2009, they released their debut Baldur the following year on a small Faroese label. Last year, it was picked up once again by Napalm Records, to make it available to a wider audience. I was instantly awed, but frankly, I doubt that it can keep up with their second album Börn Loka which has just now been released.

The sextet from Reykjavik is still using Icelandic lyrics, and the new album’s title can be translated as "Loki’s Children". It is a concept album, dealing naturally with Nordic mythology, and while that in itself is hardly original, you should still consider giving these guys a chance. Beginning with the kind-of intro Óðinn, the CD gets a bombastic start by mixing orchestral arrangements with vicious thrash growls. Sleipnir, the first regular track, continues in that majestic fashion. Instead of simply copying tried and tested folk metal recipes, Skálmöld rather concentrate their energies on muscular thrash riffs with only occasional folk melodies that thanks to their relative rarity unfold even more power. The staccato thrash vocals may be monotonous, but boy are they effective! The fantastic guitar work, which stands out especially during the sublime solos, should also be mentioned, as well as the keyboards that add some nice touches from the background. Gleipnir is a regular folk metal song with a recurring guitar melody reminiscent of a children’s song, while the vocals still maintain their out-of-this-world gruffness. In the middle of the album stands a two minute track which is more effects than actual song, and then the second half of Börn Loka surprises with more melodic vocals, without neglecting the rough parts though. It is here where I felt reminded of Týr from the Faroese Islands. The final highlight comes with the ten minute closer Loki, an incredibly dramatic piece of music which towards the end reprises the initial melody introduced by the intro, and when all is said and done, the listener should find him- or herself in quite a state of elation.

Börn Loka may not actually reinvent Viking folk metal, but it certainly shows an alternative way of interpreting that genre. Furthermore Skálmöld have proven themselves to be undeniable masters of songwriting, and their technical prowess stands without a doubt, too. Fans of Nordic metal who are unafraid of a rougher orientation will have a field day with this marvellous second album of this Icelandic sextet in peak shape!

Back to Reviews