Månegarm- Havets Vargar
Band Homeland: Sweden
Label Homepage: http://www.displeasedrecords.com/
Released on Displeased Records in 2000, “Havets Vargar” is unquestionably Viking Metal for Black Metal fans. This album is not for the weak of spirit, the very cover attacks ones senses with the punishing imagery of a monk shielding a fallen comrade while a pitiless Northman raises his longbeard for the killing blow. Musically the album is equally unforgiving and delivers a deep and assaulting Black Metal atmosphere that even the most hard-bitten Black Metal elitist would instantly embrace, all the while maintaining the use of folk instruments, skipping melodies, and “sing-song” chorus that personify Viking Metal. Since I am a fan of both, “Havets Vargar” delivers the best of both genres to me in one album.
Consisting of 12 tracks with a total playing time of 40:02, the album would not at first glance qualify as an “epic” effort, as the longest run time for any song on the album is 6:05. But take my word for it, what the album may “lack” in length, all the criterion for epic majesty is met here. From deep and sorrowful classically inspired acoustic instrumentals to long and heartfelt aria, those that enjoy the scope and depth of more folkish Black Metal will find parts of this album to be very inspired.
For those who demand the aural blood sacrifice, again “Havets Vargar” delivers. From blistering snare attacks to hammering blastbeats, the drumming on this album stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the best albums I have heard in recent years. The guitar work is tight and concise, and ranges from amazing single-string runs to deep and bone-grinding rhythm. The vocals, while not in English, provide the finishing touches to the overall atmosphere of this worthy offering.
Production on the album is very good, the lyrics inside the liner are legible, the artwork is original and (to me) rather inspirational. I rate “Havets Vargar” very highly, and when I’m in a mood for raiding and burning, this is one of the first albums I reach for.