Here s a pleasant little surprise in what’s been a pretty dry run of folk/Viking /pagan metal over the last couple of years, as only Blodiga Skald’s 2020 effort, The Undrunken Curse got me remotely excited for that genre recently.

Arise is the second album from newish Swiss act, Nidhoeggr (the dragon that’s eternally chewing on the roots of Yggdrasil in Norse Mythology), and it’s a fun, catchy little record that mixed two of my favorites and two of the genre’s better bands Heidevolk and Svartsot.

By that, you get crunchy melodic death metal of Svartsot, with deeper, gruff vocals and the cleaner, bouncier aspects of Heidevolk’s folk instrumentation/keyboards and occasional clean vocals. You also get the occasional more despondent vibe here and there (i.e “Onwards”, the first half of “Rise and Fall”) and a few injections of more impish Svartby-like romps, and it all comes together for a varied and impressive, but more importantly enjoyable album.

These guys are definitely are a bit more fun than the pagan/Viking/folk serious subject matter they sing about (they had an EP in 2013 called… Ragnarok n’ Roll…). Especially in the album’s first half where after the intro you get “The Journey”, which has a great little Svartby/Finntroll stomp, which surfaces again in “Twilight Zone” and the playful bounce of “Scorched Earth” and urgent, catchy canter of “Mighty Willow”, and is clearly when the band is at their best.

But the latter stages of the album take a darker, more depressive turn with “Desolation” and “God of Lies” which both have more of a recent Thyrfing sternness to them, even with the lush keys, they are far less uplifting than the earlier songs. The last 2 songs, “Winter’s Wight” and the title track, cement the late album mood swing with the latter being an almost 6-minute ‘dark’ ballad which rally imbues a sad Heidevolk .

Art Gates has dabbled in Viking/folk metal before with the likes of Sovengar and recently, the solid Havamal, but with Nidhoeggr and Arise, they might have found a real gem in a genre that really needed an injection of fresh new blood.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
December 14th, 2021


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