Genre: Epic Metal Folk Death Metal Viking Metal
Label: Stygian Crypt Productions
Back in 2004, several musicians from different countries around the world had a very interesting idea to begin a new epic folk pagan metal project, where everyone will contribute. The project got the name Folkearth and its debut album “A Nordic Poem” was released in 2004. Since then, countless musicians have participated to this project, but there is also a basic “permanent” line-up. Folkearth have been over-productive and for example in 2008 they released 3 albums! “Valhalla Ascendant” is their latest full-length album, their 11th so far, and it was released on the end of 2012 by the Russian label Stygian Crypt Productions, like all their previous works.
In this new album there are totally 14 musicians from 11 different countries (Greece, Monaco, USA, Switzerland, Germany, Argentina, Lithuania, Italy, Poland, France and Russia). “Valhalla Ascendant” is a metal album and I say this because there are also some totally acoustic releases in their rich discography. The “base” of the band is together for many years now, so their compositions have become much more tight than their first works and their albums don’t sound anymore as a compilation of various artists. They have created a personal characteristic sound, which they follow without any surprises in this album too, playing a combination of epic heavy metal and folk metal, with some epic death metal elements and some acoustic parts. Folkearth found the right balance between epic riffs, melodic lead guitars and traditional instruments like mandola, flute, cello, accordion and tin whistles, so that their orchestrations sound very solid and rich. As always there is a wide range of vocals in their songs, from brutal death / black metal screams, to epic clean male and female vocals, of various styles and of different singers. This adds a lot to the variety of their sound, but on the other hand some of the singers are better than the others and I think there is still something missing in the “balance” of the vocals. I should say though that the overall improvement in the vocals is huge, compared to some out-of-tune songs of their early works. The production and sound is also improved, far from some somehow amateur efforts of the past… As always lyrics are written by Marios Koutsoukos (Dol-Amroth), except for the third song, written by Michaël Fiori. All of them are in English, dealing with epic mythological themes.
If you are familiar with Folkearth’s music, then you know what to expect from them. If you don’t know the band and you are into epic folk metal, then this is a great way to get introduced to their music, since I believe this is their most complete, solid and professional work so far. “Valhalla Ascendant” is released by Stygian Crypt in a standard jewel case edition, with a 12-page booklet, including all lyrics. The cover artwork and layout is by the one and only Kris Verwimp. For more info and sound samples you can visit their official Facebook and MySpace profiles.