Goddamn it! Everyone was right. Taking Latin as my language requirement in high school was the total wrong decision. They all told me it was a dead language and asked what the point was. My thought was that it’s the root of all languages and it would help me understand other ones. Well, I was dead wrong. My knowledge of Latin didn’t offer a lick of help in understanding a damn word of the Icelandic language on Skalmöld’s latest album. Knowing the lyrics that vocalist, Björgvin Sigurðsson, was growling and singing would have made my listening experience even better than it already was. The again, using a Nordic language for a Viking metal album, whether you can understand it or not, adds a certain degree of authenticity that other bands in this genre are just not able to offer. Can you tell yet that I really loved this album?
Með vættum is Skalmöld’s fourth album since 2010 and once again they continue their pattern of making excellent, catchy music based on Norse mythology, poetry and sagas. There are your typical fast and heavily guitar harmonized battle hymns like “Með fuglum”,”Með drekum”, “Að hausti” and “Að vetri. This is where the album takes on an Iron Maiden meets the snowy Nordic seas kind of feel.
Now that we know the warriors are taken care of, what about the hardworking guys below deck? “Að vori”, “Að sumri”, “Með griðungum” are heavier and slower tracks that are perfect for the oar rowing commoner. Skalmöld is great at making sure not to leave anyone out. Með vættum features music that is essential to all aspects and personnel of the battle process.
The musicianship on the album is spectacular. Everything is given a little extra oomph as the band employs three guitarists. Björgvin Sigurðsson, Baldur Ragnarsson and Þráinn Árni Baldvinsson all bring kick ass harmonized riffs to the table that make you feel as if your right in the middle of a Viking battle. The entirety of the atmosphere is then brought together by the folk driven keyboards of Gunnar Ben and the methodical bass lines and drumming courtesy of Snæbjörn Ragnarsson and Jón Geir Jóhannsson respectively.
Með vættum only features eight songs but not to worry, it still clocks in at close to fifty minutes. Long, epic songs are the key here. However, the two tracks that are over nine minutes went on just couple of minutes too long for my particular attention span. Don’t get me wrong. “Með jötnum” and “Með griðungum” are both excellent but they lost me during the middle portion. The pace in these sections comes to a screeching halt causing things to drag a bit. Other than that, I have absolutely no complaints about Skalmöld’s Icelandic chronicle.
Með vættum is an all enveloping Viking adventure with influences from NWOBHM, thrash and death metal. If you are a fan of Viking and epic folk metal, the album is a must have for your collection. Even though most of you will have no idea how to translate the lyrics, Skalmöld is able to convey the subject matter of each song through the music in a way that everyone can feel. Fully engulf yourself in this album. Close your eyes and use your imagination. Only then will you begin to know exactly what I am talking about.
Með vættum will be released on November 25, 2014 through Napalm Records. Take a listen when you get a chance and sound off with your opinion of the album in our comments section.