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Skálmöld: Med Vaettum

Iceland’s folk metal heroes prove well worth their weight

If Trollfest and Eluveitie can still pull massive crowds then we can surely have some more rollicking mythic metal that melts the frosty climes of Skálmöld’s native Iceland faster than a volcano.

But if you’re expecting jolly songs to drink to, look away; this thunderous six-piece are as barbarous as the longboat-sailing axe-wielders they sing about. While their debut, Baldur, toyed with scene-setting (a crackling hearth, babies wailing) and folk instruments, in recent years Skálmöld, who boast three guitarists, are all about the riffs. There’s the odd oboe but otherwise this is an album thick with killer licks that stretch from deathly chugs and tremolo via Maiden-esque dual-harmonies. All of these ingredients come to a head in Með drekum and the grim offering of Með griðungum; while the vocals are a powerful mix of Gregorian-style chants and bloodcurdling screams, not least at the very start where the singer sounds like he’s trapped his fingers in a car door. Powerful stuff from North of the wall.

Via Napalm