Considering how popular the entire folk metal subgenre has become over the past several years, it’s a wonder how a band like Fejd can continually fly under the radar. Having been an official band for over a decade and released three full-lengths and an EP, one would think that the Swedish quintet would be more of a focal band within the scene. I mean, the more true a band is to its core sound, the better off it is, right?

As it is, Fejd plug away with their less metallic/more folk approach and they just keep getting better and better with each release. With Nagelfar, the band has hit their creative stride as the album is stellar from start to finish. As with each of the three previous albums from their catalogue, Fejd focus almost exclusively on creating as authentic a folk sound as possible, making the overall feel almost non-metal.

Though the group plays plenty of drums, guitars and bass, the overwhelming majority of their output is in the acoustic vein. With that said, Fejd also fuse instruments like the Jew’s harp, Swedish bagpipes, recorder, bouzouki, willow-pipe and moraharpa, making for an eclectic mix of acoustic metal and as-traditional-as-can-be folk music. Naturally, the lyrics are all sung in their native Swedish, adding even more relevance to their art.

Each of the nine songs on Nagelfar follow a similar blueprint of slower, melodic passages backed by a constantly haunting underbelly, though it’s not the sort of creepy, ominous type. Instead, the atmosphere that just oozes organically from the music is haunting in the sense of that almost indescribable feeling of dark serenity while walking through a dense fog. Yes, it sounds beyond cheesy and cliché, but that’s the sort of underlying vibe each of the tracks boasts.

While there isn’t a weak song in the bunch, the two standout tracks are easily the infectious, remarkable “Den Skimrande” and the brooding “Fjarrskadaren”. Both passages ebb and flow seamlessly between sweeping melodies and a sense of urgency both musically and vocally, though neither track ever truly reach their zeniths, making whatever the crescendo builds to seem that much more elusive. However, the charm within each is that neither song feels incomplete. Rather, they instantly make the listener want more, of the unobtainable closure that makes them even more inviting with each listen.

Naturally, something like Nagelfar from a band like Fejd is not for everybody. Those who fancy themselves fans of Scandinavian folk music (not folk metal, but folk music) should instantly latch onto this. The metalheads out there who aren’t too stubborn or “kvlt”, those who are always in search of something unique, have probably already found the splendor of Fejd’s music. If not, it’s highly recommended that those of that ilk seek out this album and then work backwards.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mike Sloan
August 28th, 2013


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