Released: 2016, Art Gates Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Long, long time ago, Europe was populated by Celts, Vikings and lot of other people full of courage and willingness to fight for what they thought was right. Those times were filled with beer, blood and music. All we have left from those glorious days is history that contains many interesting legends and myths that need to be told.
In the present world we have a lot of bands inspired by those stories. The Viking/Celtic legacy influences metal scene stronger than ever. Successful bands like Eluveitie, Ensiferum, Equilibrium, Amon Amarth, Suidakra or Wintersun are great inspirations to many musicians around the globe. You would think that playing folk metal is reserved for the Scandinavians or the Irish as they carry same blood genes like their ancestors and you would think that they have the best idea how to interpret the legends and myths of their past. How wrong you could be …
Before I played this album I decided to do a bit of research first. To my surprise, Steignyr is a Catalonian band, based in sunny Barcelona. ‘The Prophecy of the Highlands’ is their third record since the formation in 2011. They’re currently under the wings of Art Gates Records, who is also representing more known Spanish black metal horde, Noctem.
There are not many details surrounding the band on the Internet and I was really trying to find out what the name Steignyr means. No luck whatsoever. I’ve decided to email the band in search of explanation or guidance in how to make a sense out of it. Kindly enough Hyrtharia, the lady responsible for the keyboards, explained that Steignyr doesn't mean anything and it's a combination of two words ‘Mjölnir’ and ‘Sleipnir’ but the band likes to describe Steignyr as community of heroes who fight the evil forces. Interesting indeed…
‘The Prophecy of the Highlands’ cover artwork has been created by the artist Ingrid Gala and it represents the death of Mother Earth at the hands of mankind and the extermination of human liberties (according to online resources).
The album begins with ‘The Valley of Dragons’, an interesting intro that gives you the immediate introduction to who Steignyr is and what they represent. ’Sons of Earth’ takes you on a magical journey to the ancient world. Death metal riffs and catchy melodies mixed with growling and beautifully sung clean vocal choruses make this track the one to remember. The next two songs ‘Wild Land’ and ‘The Last Era’ are similar in the writing approach. Orchestral and symphonic keyboard arrangements create an epic atmosphere which is hard to forget. Heavy and fast riffing mixed with great range of tempo changes makes you want to headbang all the way through.
‘Wolfs Lair’ is almost a three minute instrumental song that brings a lot of melodies that are very unique and recognisable in this type of music. If you like Eluveitie, you will absolutely love it. Next up is ‘Hammer of Agony’, probably one of the fastest songs on this album, followed by the title song ‘The Prophecy of the Highlands’. They both sound like war anthems and complement each other very well. It’s time to slow down once again, ‘Immortal Whisper’, very calm and soothing effect on the listener but don't be fooled, Steignyr hits back with fast and angry songs like ’The Warriors Path’ and ‘Awaking of Revenge’ and this one is the promotional song representing this album. Steignyr also released a video to this track so check it out. ‘Spirit of Victory’ is definitely the best song on this record. If you asked me what is folk metal about, I would play you this song. Fantastic from start to finish. Once again, like ‘Sons of Earth’ when listening to it, it takes you on a journey to places that you thought never existed. The album is nicely finished with another instrumental piece that makes it all perfectly complete.
Looking at Steignyr’s discography, this album is definitely the best sounding material so far. I think ‘The Prophecy of the Highlands’ will open many new doors for the band and will present them with a lot of exciting opportunities in future. Steignyr's hard work and commitment pays off with well produced twelve song record that is not easy to forget after the first listening.
Review by Dawid Krosnia