Reviewed: December 1, 2022
Released: April 15, 2022, Napalm Records
Reviewer: The Elitist Metalhead
Swedish viking metal legends MÅNEGARM are one of the innovators of the sound that we know today as viking/folk metal. The genre takes black metal, a pinch of death metal, and a lot of folk influences and combines the sounds to create something truly magical. Their 1998 debut, Nordstjärnans tidsålder, was one of the best debuts in the genre, save for maybe MOONSORROW or ÁSMEGIN. This past spring they released their tenth full length album, Ynglingaättens öde, and I have to say this is their most ambitious album to date with some amazing songs and special surprises.
When I said ambitious, I meant it. Having a ten minute epic open the album could be a good decision or an awful one depending on the outcome. “Freyrs blod” was actually a great decision. Everything that I ever loved about this great band is summed up in this killer song. Starting off with the speed its the riffing that sets this band apart, especially the melodies of those folk inspired tremolo riffs. The vocals are a deep and guttural growl during the verse but the clean vocals come in on the bridge and chorus. We slow it down with a folk interlude about four and half minutes in taking you back to ancient times; which, I believe, is their goal. Good epic folk metal should be able to take you on musical journey into ancient times and natural landscapes. The violin solo adds another dimension and almost reminded me of early SKYKLAD. “Ulvhjärtat” follows right behind it and this is another scorching track. Starting with some acoustic guitars and violin, the violin accompanies the main melody throughout the song. The riffs are crushing and the vocals sound evil until those unmistakable cleans vocals make this a great chorus. There is an English version of the song as well.
Again, when I said ambitious I meant it. One of the most beautiful folk metal “ballads” is this special song, “En snara av guld.” This features the beautiful vocals of Lea Grawsiö Lindström, the daughter of vocalist Erik Grawsiö. She contributed the main melody in the verse and and does a duet with her father. And the suprises don’t stop there. “Stridsgalten” feature guest vocals by three legends in the folk metal genre, Jonne Järvelä of KORPIKLAANI, Robse Dahn of EQUILIBRIUM, and Pär Hulkoff of KULKOFF and ATOMKRAFT. In fact, Järvelä’s voice was one of the first I heard chanting “ODIN!” over the mouth harps. I don’t know about you but I wanted to raise a horn of mead in that moment! The song is based on an ancient war with the Geats and the warrior calling on Odin for luck in battle! And as with the last three albums, Ellinor Videfors graces us with her beautiful female vocals on “Hågkomst av ett liv.” Another ballad but with such a strong emphasis on the folk influences making this such an emotional song and closes many versions of the album out. My version, however has a bonus track and is an English version of “Ulvhjärtat” translated to “Wolfhearted.”
MÅNEGARM is one of the bands that got me started with folk metal and I’ve been a fan of this band since first hearing them around 20 years ago now. For whatever reason, their previous album did not grab me like their previous and I was a bit disappointed. However, with Ynglingaättens öde, MÅNEGARM made an amazing return to form and shows that they still have some pillage left in them!