Various Artists
Metal Message V

You’ve got to respect what Markus Eck and his German webzine have accomplished with the fifth installment of their Metal Message folk/pagan/Viking compilation CDs. For this lavishly packaged release, legendary artist Ed Repka (Megadeath, Death, Atheist, 3 Inches of Blood) has provided the cover and the DVD packaged material is full of endearing artwork, including photos of nature by Eck himself.

The 13 artists that contribute to the compilation, are as you’d expect mostly European (with the exception of Brazil’s Tiwaz and Canada’s Dark Forest) with a slight German lean and there is a mix of more well known bands, headed by Waylander and Adorned Brood some middle tier established but obscure acts like Tumulus, Fimbulvet, Andras, Spain’s Xerion and Belgium’s Natan and lesser known, unsigned bands like Dryathor, Vinternatt, Hromovlad.

Germany’s Fimbulvet get things going with a very solid opener “Helias Bann” from last years Der Ruf in Goldene Hallen release and its actually one of the compilation’s better tracks with a vast array of pagan/folk/Viking hues and a distinctly Finnish feel. Slovakia’s Hromovlad offer up the typically Eastern European sounding and more black metal based “Slava” with again, impressive, if more primal results. Unfortunately, Russia’s Tumulus offer the compilation’s first weak track by way of “Kochevonov Pljas” taken from the 2008 EP of the same name- it sounds like Rush and a psychedelic 70’s Disco/Prog band in a blender with various flutes and tooth harps.

Canada’s Dark Forest get things back on track with”Journey To Ever-Eternal Skies”, an epic, choral laced, eight minute mid paced number with a nod to Bathory, Falkenbach, Oakenshield and such. Though hailing from Brazil, Tiwaz deliver a rough and ready but respectable synth flocked blacked take on pagan metal with “The Battlelore”. German newcomers Dryathor offer up one of their 2008 demo tracks “Im Auge des Sturms” and while no Finsterforst or Equilibrium it offers a nice mid paced violin flocked track.

I had heard Xerion’s “No Pazo Derruido da Existencia” from their 2007 Nocturnal Misanthropia album and I’m still not all that impressed despite their grimmer out put and considerable number of releases. I’ll take Berserk for my Spanish pagan black metal fix. German veteran’s Adorned Brood show everyone how it’s done with “Sons of the Damned”, perfectly mixing ethnic charm, black shrieks and Gothic female vocals and show why they a re one of the most respected bands in the genre, despite hardly being recognized outside of Europe. Ireland’s Waylander deliver the standout opening track, “As Deities Clash”, from their 2008 comeback effort, Honour Amongst Chaos, showing that there is more to Irish pagan metal than just Primordial. Another couple of bands I’m familiar with Belgium’s blackened Natan and Germany’s Andras deliver “Volkskracht” and “Miasma Track” respectively, with “Miasma Track” being an excellent track from the band’s impressive Iron Way album. Germany’s veteran act Obscurity are more of a melodic death metal act, but they snuck on this compilation with “Nach Asgard wir Reiten” and closing the compilation out is Belgium’s unsigned act Vinternatt with the very impressive “De Zwarte Mis”.

Die hard folk/Viking/Pagan fans will more than likely already heard a majority of these tracks, heck I’m a casual fan and I had heard a handful of them. But there are some nice new finds here and the overall package is excellently presented and you get almost 80 minutes of mostly high quality pagan/folk metal. I anxiously await part VI.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
July 6th, 2009

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