Crime Records

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Drakwald - Resist Fatality review

Band: Drakwald
Album: Resist Fatality
Label: Self Released
Genre: Folk Metal
Country: France
Release Date: 1st Feb 2014

Firstly I should mention that on the band's official homepage they claim to be influenced by, and I quote "Scandinavian Death Metal and Pagan Folk". OK, so I'll give them Pagan Folk, but I hear very little Scandinavian Death Metal on this album. To my ears it comes across as a (brilliantly delivered) cross between Svartsot and Eluveitie - and yes, it is every bit as good as it sounds. There are plenty of nods to the Irish Pagan Metal scene and especially Waylander and Cruachan, yet at the same time this album evokes the (ancient) spirit of countrymen such as Bran Barr and Heol Telwen.

Although their influences are worn proudly on their collective sleeves, Drakwald have recorded an album that positively shines with personality and their passion for the genre is very much evident. A cursory glance at the song titles and it becomes abundantly clear that English isn't the band's first language and to be honest, I think that this just adds to the charm of this superb little gem.

I do, however, have a couple of gripes. For their debut release, you might expect that a band would want to go all out with the presentation to grab the attention of potential punters. Instead, it appears that Drakwald have opted for a forgettable, drab effort. So "nul points" then for the artwork which is irredeemably terrible. This is a real shame as dull, forgettable and drab are words which couldn't be further from describing what this excellent French act have to offer - which is actually a really solid, classy and exciting take on the Folk Metal genre. But my biggest issue with this album - the Eluveitie-aping "Enter in The Den of The Night" aside - would be the running time. It is far too short for an album - clocking in at only slightly over 31 minutes (including an instrumental intro), this is barely an EP, let alone an album and just as you start to really get into it, it's all over. But to turn a negative into a positive, this just gives you an excuse to do as I did and put it on repeat.

Overall though, this is a fantastic effort and a wonderful debut album from a band I am looking forward to hearing a lot more from in the future. If they can follow this up and maintain their momentum, then Drakwald will be a band to watch within the Folk Metal scene. The best Folk Metal band you've never heard of. Probably.

Total Playing Time: 31:42



The Drowning
Let The Slaughter Begin
Diving In The Depth Of Agony
Escape The Claws Of Fate
When Beer's Flowing
Enter In The Den Of The Night
Giant With The Axe
Raise Our Swords
Inhale The Ashes of Honor

Official Website:

Monday, March 3, 2014

Kampfar - Djevelmakt review

Band: Kampfar
Album: Djevelmakt
Label: Indie Recordings
Genre: Pagan Black Metal
Country: Norway
Release Date: 27th Jan 2014

Losing a founder member can derail the best of bands and when said member has also formed part of the core songwriting duo for the best part of two decades, then it can be truly disastrous. A lesser band would have been forgiven for taking the easy route by merely regurgitating and recycling what had come before. Well, clearly then, Norway's Kampfar aren't just any band. Instead of letting this unfortunate development phase them, they refocused their energy, wrote some great songs and have come out of the experience a leaner, more streamlined beast and one that, in hindsight, may have been overly reliant on its core members. On listening to Djevelmakt, it would appear that the band's creativity may have been stifled for too long. That a band almost 20 years into its career - and with members now in their 40's - can release an album with this much passion, energy and pure heart is testament to their tenacity and shows that they genuinely enjoy what they do.

Anyone familiar with Kampfar will have a fairly good idea of what to expect here and for those who haven't heard this superb band yet, I would say the likes of Vreid and Thyrfing could be listed under "similar artists" and whereas all three bands belong firmly in the Pagan Black Metal sub-genre, they also have a special sound that distinguishes them from the crowd.

So what does it actually sound like? Well, the overall sound and feel of this album is almost trance-like and enraptures the listener in a way that is hard to convey in words -  the thundering, hypnotic and almost martial drumming can be a little overpowering on occasion, but they also fit perfectly with the distinctive, harsh rasp of vocalist Dolk and the guitar tone throughout is suitably ice cold. Sharp, ferocious riffs vie for position with the often sublime melodies (just listen to "Kujon") and acoustic guitars and the piano are used sparsely, but to wonderful effect. Not only do these calmer moments counterbalance the heaviness of the more raw Black Metal moments, but they also add the perfect amount of atmosphere to the proceedings, giving the album a more rounded feel and prove that Kampfar have been around long enough to know when to slow it down.

The songs themselves are perfectly crafted, almost to the point of being truly beautiful - a word not often, if ever, associated with the Pagan Black Metal scene - and the production is as good as it needs to be - crisp and clear without being too polished, so the album retains its extreme edge. Despite the underlying and undeniable Black Metal sound, Kampfar have a similar progressive edge to their music as fellow Norwegians Enslaved and although this is without a doubt an extreme metal album, it also manages to be strangely accessible and very easy to listen to (over and over again in my case). Djevelmakt is a genuinely rewarding and remarkable album that keeps improving with each and every listen and stands as a reminder of just how good the Pagan Black Metal sub-genre can be when done properly and a clear indication that there is still a lot of life left in it yet. As their countrymen did before them, back in the infancy of Black Metal, Kampfar are again pushing the boundaries and taking the sub-genre in new and exciting directions.

This is very possibly the finest moments in their long, illustrious career and is absolutely guaranteed a (high) spot on my "best of 2014" list. In fact, this is an early contender for album of the year.

Total Playing Time: 47:17

Overall: 9/10


Blod, Eder og Galle
Swarn Norvegicus
De Dødes Fane
Svarte Sjelers Salme
Our Hounds, Our Legion

Official webpage: