I had never heard a single song by Swedish Folk/Viking Metallers Vintersorg before getting my hands on the promo copy of their latest album Orkan on Napalm Records. I knew they were a band in the folk genre, but that can be a rather broad scope, encompassing a wide range of other styles from Power, to Black, to Symphonic, and Progressive Metal. I wasn’t sure at all what to expect from this, their 8th full length album since 1998, but I think I got something really good here!
Vintersorg consists of only two members: Mattias Marklund on guitars and Andreas Hedlund on everything else. Their background is heavily in the Black Metal realm, making me somewhat wary of what I really expected to find on Orkan, as I tend to avoid much music in that genre. Fortunately (for me!), Vintersorg keep the music varied, melodic and interesting enough that I truly enjoy the whole affair. The harsher vocals throughout are more in the melodeath vein than sounding like pure Black Metal, as Hedlund is probably best known for his membership in Borknagar. Orkan has a whole lot going for it that has kept me listening to it since I got it.
Album opener Istid is the absolute highlight for me. It is thrashy, folky, melodic, heavy, and even symphonic in places. The entire album is performed in Swedish (I assume), so the sing-alongs on this tune take a while to develop, trying to learn the syllables, but many of the other songs warrant it as well. Hedlund’s Death Metal vocals are a nice contrast to the clean singing on Orkan and fit very well on Istid. Ur Stjärnstoft Är Vi Komna follows as a mostly mid-paced, almost straight ahead Heavy Metal song, although there are blast beats and harsh vocals in a couple of places. The guitar melodies are nicely done, along with heavy riffing. There is a weird, almost disco-like feel near the end of the song, but heavies up again before the end. Polarnatten is one of the top three songs on Orkan (along with Istid and the title track). Starting off with plucked strings, it blasts right into a Melodeath kind of song. The chorus, however, is infectiously catchy and there are a few flutes to keep things folky.
Myren also starts off with plucked violins, almost sounding like The Hall of the Mountain King, before settling into a mid-paced track with vocal harmonies reminiscent of Queen at times. Not a bad tune, just not one of the better ones on Orkan. The title track kicks off the second half of the album. The song Orkan is exceedingly catchy and a very cool tune, one I have bouncing around my head for a while after I hear it. I can understand why this is the title track for the album. Just a spectacular track. Havets Nåd follows up proving to be a shifting creation among Melodeath, Thrash, and big chunks of melody. Great vocal harmonies are present here, as well as tremendous growling in places. Vintersorg also manage to bring in some wind instruments to keep the Folk vibe going.
Norrskenssyner reminds me, melodically anyway, of something that Ensiferum would write, especially during the chorus. It has that Northern European type of folk melody that I find so compelling. Otherwise it is a decent, slow to mid-paced song. Urvädersfången finishes off Orkan, again emitting the folk melody vibe right from the beginning. Hedlund’s lower register tenor comes through strongly (as on the rest of the album), making for an enticing sound that draws me in. The song itself is a well composed affair, again transition among styles – Thrash, Folk, Symphonic, Traditional Metal. It is satisfying, but ultimately leaves me wanting more.
Here is the album preview, Orkan:
Orkan is an outstanding album, catchy, heavy, thrashy, folky, epic and just all around well written. Vintersorg has absolutely gained a fan and, if any of what I have expressed in the review appeals to you, I highly recommend picking up this album. You will not regret it.
I hear the sound in a METAL way.