Review: Månegarm – Månegarm – Napalm Records – Release: Out Now.
Fans of the heavier kind of folk will no doubt be very familiar with the wolves of Månegarm. Songs with the fury of a rabid wolf, often laced with catchy folk melodies via use of a violin make this one hell of a violent party band. Whereas almost all of their work has been in Swedish they released an almost fully English album in 2013 with “Legions of the North”. While it’s always a risky move to make such a change I really loved the album, so I was very interested in hearing what “Månegarm” could bring.
Erik Grawsiö – Vocals, Bass
Markus Andé – Guitar
Jonas Alkkvist – Guitar
Jacob Hallegren – Drums
I’ve always had a fondness for the longer epic songs by Månegarm and the band starts off with a real treat with the eight minute journey of “Blodörn”. While you softly start with an acoustic piece that the band really excels in, you soon get greeted with a damn heavy wall of guitar sound and Erik’s wolfish growls. And we’re back to the Swedish language! While the English songs made for a great singalong I prefer the more raw sounding Swedish language myself as it really fits the tone of the songs. There’s still more than enough wordless singing around to belt out your lungs though!
The production this time around feels very smooth and I do kind of miss a raw edge to the guitar work. It did actually take a bit for it to really click with me, but the trademark vocals of Erik and the sublime violin parts, which were once again done by Martin Björklund who also provided them on the previous album, still give it that Månegarm sound, albeit with a modern paintjob.
After the epic opener the band goes back to a classic Månegarm violin guided party song with “Tagen av Daga”. It’s catchy and it’s sure to make you bang like a madman whilst singing along with the typical woohooo’s. And to keep the fire going you get thrown right into the first single “Odin Owns Ye All”, the first of the English songs on the album. At first I thought that the song was a bit too slick and accessible, but it really has grown on me and the chorus will be fun at shows of course.
And now we come to a rather daring move with two acoustic songs right after each other. Does it extinguish the wildfire that had been raging? Well, it does turn down the heat, but anyone familiar with Månegarm’s acoustic pieces will be right at home with the soft vocal, later on accompanied by the pretty vocals of Ellinor Videfors.
“Legions of the North” had two very short folk acoustic songs which really left you wanting more and “Vigverk – del II” is the continuation of one of them. Again we get to enjoy the vocals of Ellinor Videfors alongside to Erik’s gruffer ‘clean’ vocals. It will be very nice to see if we’ll be able to hear her on future albums or even live shows!
It appears that the band has had enough of the softer stuff, because with “Call of the Runes” we dive right back into the folk fury with the second English song on the album. A typical fast Månegarm song with some great singalong parts and some damn catchy lead guitar works, reminiscent of classic heavy metal anthems. “Kraft” goes back to the slow and heavy part of Månegarm’s sound with a big emphasis on the violin making it an almost ethereal coupling of heavy metal and folk.
“Bärsärkarna från Svitjod” once again drops the metal part altogether in sound, but while it’s fully acoustic it does manage to retain the typical metal heaviness in its heart. With “Nattramn” we get to enjoy some prime NWOBHM-inspired folk metal which is one final power packed send-off before we can make our last farewell to the band with the soft and emotional acoustic “Allfader” which has us enjoy Ellinor’s vocals one last time.
“Månegarm” is a lot more polished than before and with a heavier emphasis on pure folk music, but it still has all the typical elements of a Månegarm album. Fans of their heavier work might be a little bit disappointed by the lack of more heavy songs, but if you enjoy their folk side you will love the new album!
2. Tagen av Daga
3. Odin Owns Ye All
5. Vigverk – Del II
6. Call of the Runes
8. Bärsärkarna från Svitjod
Score: 4.4 out of 5
Text by: Robert Popovic