Heidevolk
Walhalla Wacht

Hailing from the Netherlands, Heidevolk are Napalm’s latest folk metal darlings. Hot on the heels of the likes of Svartsot and Alestorm, Heidevolk might be the best of the bunch, and arguably the best folk metal album I have heard since Ásmegin’s Hin Vordende Sod & Sø.

Apart from the expected gallop of Viking-tinged hymns and string/horn-glossed metal, indisputably, the main draw of Heidevolk is the dual vocals of the two front men, Joris Boghtdrincker and Mark Splintervuyscht. With both being listed as lead vocalists, the duo deliver a magnificent and epic delivery of ethnic chants and occasional growls. Splintervuyscht sports a higher register clean chant, while Boghtdrincker has a baritone voice. When mixed together it comes across like two Andreas ‘Vintersorg’ Hedlund’s singing an unreleased duet from the Till Fjälls sessions; it’s truly captivating. Especially on the more elegant numbers like standout “Wodan’s Heerst” (Wodan Prevails) and the two more campfire numbers “Hulde Aan De Kastelein” (Tribute to the Innkeeper) and “Naar De Hal Der Gevallenen” (To the Hall of the Fallen), where the vocals draw you in to smoky Beer Halls and ale-slinging warriors. Though I’ll admit I’m also slightly reminded of the Swedish chef from The Muppets…

Musically–the material reminds me of Urkraft-era Thyrfing and labelmates Svartsot–Wahalla Wacht is solid metal. Only it’s lightly flocked with a violin rather than full-on folk pomp. The opening trio of “Saksenland” (Saxony), “Koning Radboud” (King Radboud) and the aforementioned “Wodan’s Heerst” make for as good an opening trio of folk metal you will hear this year. That’s not to say the rest of the album is chopped liver, as it’s all very high quality, but I do find myself listening to the first three songs almost exclusively.

“Walhalla Wacht” (Valhalla Awaits) is a “HEY!”-filled, bouncy romp, while “Opstand Der Bataven” (Revolt of the Batvians) is the album’s only real, “meh” track, but luckily it’s followed by the very Vintersorg-ish “Het Wilde Heer” (The Wild Army), and there’s even a blast beat for penultimate track “Zwaard Gehevan” (Swords Raised), that show Heidevolk can deliver more than peppy jigs. Organic instrumental “Dagenraad” (Dawn) signals the end of the album with a nice relaxing, if fitting, mood.

Obviously, if you don’t like to whole folk metal thing, Heidevolk won’t change your mind, but for fans of the genre this is a good as it gets. Walhalla Wacht is sure to hover around my year-end list when December 2008 rolls merrily by.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
May 14th, 2008

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