Heathen Foray
Armored Bards

Austria’s Heathen Foray are a new act to me. Being relative newcomers to the Viking metal scene, but already they have released two quality albums: 2009’s Passage and their stellar new effort, Armored Bards.

Like easy comparison Amon Amarth, Heathen Foray use the backbone of crunchy, melodic death metal and deeper vocals to deliver their Teutonic pride rather than flutes, synths, accordions, harpsichords and beer hall frivolity of their peers (Equilibrium, label mates Adorned Brood, etc). However, they do manage to gloss it with some bouncier melodies and arpeggio/solos that remind me of Ensiferum, making for an up-tempo but still sternly death metal take on Viking shenanigans.

With a vocalist that’s virtually a dead ringer for Amon Amarth’s Johan Hegg, a robust, chunky guitar production and an abundance of rousing , cantering riffs, it would be easy to simply write off Heathen Foray as a Amon Amarth clone. Yet, the band’s sense of melancholic melody and song writing give them their own, enjoyable entity.

For example, halfway through the opening title track, a nifty little solo injects a little bounce into the other wise gritty rumble. The same can be said for the likes of the somberly melodic “Bifrost”, “Ascension” and “Carthage’s End”, the urgent gallop of “Messenger of God” and horribly catchy duo of “A Brothers Tale” and “Hopfen & Malz” (where the band take their only real turn into beer hall silliness) where energetic little solos or just subtle use of acoustics  and atmospherics give the material just a tiny slice of shredding Viking cheese, but still keeps thing generally stoic.

Numbers like “Endless Sorrow” and “Walls of Vienna” chug and churn with aplomb, bringing the Amon Amarth -mood to the forefront, though still glossed with the little dash of happiness that makes the album incredibly enjoyable. Along with the equally solid Passage (which I grabbed after hearing this), this is a very fine release from a very promising, young act in a tough genre.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
October 15th, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    I really enjoyed their first album, but found the new one to be absolutely abysmal. Contrived, regurgitated, half-assed crap.


  2. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Really? I thought they are basically the same album.


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