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The Flight Of Sleipnir: Saga

Epic pagan doomsters with a rueful, rustic edge

Their fifth record in barely as many years, Saga confirms the ascendant trajectory of this Colorado folk-doom duo. A rugged platter steeped in Norse mythology and rooted in the same patch of damp woodland where Primordial, Solstice and Viking-era Bathory spread their gnarly branches, but TFOS have a free-ranging looseness of their own.

Melodic bluesy solos, shoegazey cadences and the delicate emotive surge of 70s Pink Floyd rub up against flurries of droning black metal amid the blend of mournful epic doom and acoustic pagan folk, while Heavy Rest The Chains Of The Damned sounds like heavily sedated gothic bluegrass with pacey soloing and Planet Caravan vocals.

The voices are simple but solid, alternating between 90s black metal rasps and plaintive monastic harmonies. The production is satisfyingly raw and intimate, while the intros and outros are permeated with sounds of wind, sea, fire and birdsong. Bracing and immersive, Saga is a worthy bid for the oaken throne of a beguiling musical form.

Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.