Oakhelm
Betwixt and Between

You know it’s a slow year in Viking metal when a band from Portland, Oregon that consists of ¾ members of Fall of the Bastards on a label run by a guy in The Funeral Pyre (Prosthetic Records) delivers the best Viking metal album of the year.

Truth be told though, Betwixt and Between, with its fitting Kris Verwimp digipack artwork would be a great Celtic/Viking metal album whatever year it had been released. 6 Songs (two interludes and 4 epic, 8+ minute songs) of Kings of a Distant Forest era Mithotyn (especially “Immran”) sounding Viking metal with a blasting black lean, a tad of Primordial’s early sound with replete with lots of beer hall “whoa-ohhh-oooohs”, foresty acoustics, epic structures and well written, tangibly Viking riffage.

This is just a damn good Celtic/Viking metal album all around. The 4 songs are all perfect examples of blackened heathen fury that matches some of the Celtic inspired French metal (Aes Dana, Belenos, etc), and the 2 interludes (“Skaal Shanty” and “Maybon Shore”) are well placed ambient, ethnic breaks (wood instruments, female singing, etc) in the surging music. The 4 superb tracks (that are simply too long, varied and brilliant to individually dissect), opener “..Of Wood and Blood”, “As The Murder Flies”, “These Boundaries” and the brilliant 10 minute closer “Immran” deliver some of the most impressive Celtic/Viking ferocity of the last few years sans chain mail or face paint.

However, if you do enjoy chain mail clad romps, pillaging and an austere sense of Celtic history, Oakhlem should be your new favorite band. It is mine

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
October 9th, 2007

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