Genre : Pagan Metal
Website : www.metalmessage.de
Location : Germany
Release title : Metal Message IV
Release type : CD compilation
Release year : 2007
Label : Metal Message webzine
Buy : see www.metalmessage.de/releases.html and www.metalmessage.de/releases/mm4_mediasheet.pdf
for more info
1. GJENFERDSEL (Norway) "Svik"
2. FOREFATHER (UK) "Engla Tocyme"
3. THARAPHITA (Estonia) "Lidsetel Sünkjatel Radadel"
4. GALAR (Norway) "Hugin Og Munin"
5. OAKENSHIELD (UK) "Ginnungagap"
6. IRMINSUL (Sweden) "Vinterskald"
7. SLECHTVALK (Netherlands) "On The Eve Of Battle"
8. FOLKEARTH (Int.) "The Riding Of The Queen Boudiccea"
9. THEUDHO (Belgium) "The Journey To Lyngvi"
10. ALKONOST (Russia) "Darkness"
11. SLARTIBARTFASS (Germany) "St. Cuthbert"
12. SKYFORGER (Latvia) "A Crested Bird Sings"
13. SIROCCO (Ireland) "Forsaken Shores"
Metal Message is an exceptional Metal webzine specializing in featuring international Metal bands in the Folk/Pagan Metal genre as characterized by Vintersorg, Skyclad, Korpiklaani, Cruachan, et al. It is an excellent resource for fans of this unique Metal phenomenon. The Metal Message compilations were released as limited edition CDs from 2004 to 2008, in five individual volumes. I recommend bookmarking Metal Message at www.metalmessage.de and value highly my copy of the "Metal Message IV" CD, which was limited to 1000 copies.
Metal Message IV featured bands that draw upon traditional music from Estonia to Russia, a gathering of our Pagan Metal tribes as it were. The Black Metal influences are indeed in ample supply, and the Folk styles weave in and out of the BM approaches with frequency and ease. Only two bands reflect more of a classic British Heavy Metal approach to their traditional Pagan roots, as in the Skyclad vein; mainly we find bands that harken to Nordic BM forefathers such as Borknagar and even a touch of Mayhem.
Metal Message IV opens with Norway’s GJENFERDSEL and "Svik" - no Folk to be found here - just an earth-shattering Heavy Metal riff that will get you headbanging psychotically right away. The BM style of rich chord-centred strumming on a dirty unadorned electric remains the basis, however, in the true Norwegian style. The UK’s FOREFATHER follows with "Engla Tocyme", employing a decidedly English-sounding Folk vocal style, and yet somehow manages to end up sounding like Vintersorg, complete with decidedly earnest clean vocals that have a Gnostic chanting quality to them, reverberating Medieval-style in the great stone monastery. Those dirty chording guitars and some well-placed double bass beats complete the picture of Norwegian influence. Next we are treated to the great THARAPHITA from Estonia, who had reformed after an absence of several years. This potent and extremely unique Metallic force bring the house down with "Lidsetel Sünkjatel Radadel". Introducing the song with a classic European Folk melody on acoustic guitar, the band soon erupt into a mountain-crushing epic Black Metal vamp, and barbaric tales of subhuman warrior tribes ensue. Only for the true troglodytes among us, who simultaneously value the strength of Pagan melodies.
We are then brought back to the domain of True Norwegian Black Metal with GALAR (Norway) and "Hugin Og Munin". Suitably vicious and full of Nordic savagery, GALAR innovatively end the piece with some great Folk ruminations, grim and sober with acoustic guitar and bassoon. Brits OAKENSHIELD continue on with Druidic magic emanating from pennywhistle or flute. A clean keyboard backdrop creates an atmosphere of forested, mountainous expanses in the Norwegian conceptual tradition again. The wind instrument refrain keeps bringing us back to an ancient time we secretly long for, and ominous clean vocals trade off with BM fiendishness effortlessly. IRMUNSUL (Sweden) follow, with a strong Folk-based epic BM track sung in their native tongue, with a Celtic Folk acoustic line that brings up the question of similarities between Celtic and Scandinavian Folk styles, something I haven’t clarified for myself to be honest. Either some Scandinavian bands are influenced by Celtic music, one of the world’s most popular ethnic musics, or their native traditional style is essentially similar. However, I have perceived many musical elements in Scandinavian music which are clearly individual to the Norse, so perhaps this cross-cultural adaptation is due to the popularity of Celtic styles. Irish and Scottish music certainly lend themselves well to new directions in Metal!
The Netherlands' SLECHTVALK contribute some brutal Viking-flavoured battle Metal with "On The Eve Of Battle", employing ominous male choral vocals in the refrain and sick-sounding barbarian spittings in the lead vocal, bringing their piano-based melody to an intriguing close by fading out the band to reveal the sombre tale told by the keys. One of my very favourite bands in this genre, FOLKEARTH, include "The Riding Of The Queen Boudiccea" from their "Drakkars In The Mist" album, and at first I thought this might be the first Folkearth song I didn’t like, due to the incongruous use of a drum machine in their characteristically organic music, but upon further listening, the incredible power of this perhaps 40-strong Metal ensemble thunders through. Based on a perfect Celtic theme introducing the piece on penny whistle and recorder, the rest of the band erupts mightily into an unshakeable epic Metal fanfare, seguing into an ultra-evil verse that is some of the most vicious Black Metal you’re likely to hear. The authentic texture and tasteful heaviness of their collective sound is something to savour and to treasure. Folkearth are undoubtedly one of the greatest Metal institutions to emerge in many years, heralding a new era in Metal creativity and achievement. You’ll be hearing more from me about Folkearth, mark my words!
THEUDHO from Belgium continue METAL MESSAGE IV with "Journey To Lyngvi" and create an imposing Nile-like, imperialist-empire feeling to their massive keyboard introduction. This leads into some aggressive BM that conjures up images of military violence and an absolutist society of the ancient world. Following are Russia’s ALKONOST and "Darkness", and all I can say about Russian Metal is HORNS UP time and time again! Russian Metal never fails to impress me, from Mental Home, to Pagan Reign, to Rakoth, to Vicious Crusade (who would be a great addition to a METAL MESSAGE compilation along with Pagan Reign), and now to ALKONOST. They seem to have a way of writing musical arrangements and creating atmospheres that makes me wonder if they were all personally instructed by Mussorgsky! The Russian musical mind is a brilliant one, from a technical sense, and full of Pagan Folk authenticity as they draw upon their country’s traditional music. ALKONOST are no exception, great barbaric Pagan Folk feel here in the form of more vicious Black Metal, while Alena Pelevina’s Class-A operatic vocals neither detract nor distract from the Metal, but enhance and add absolute brilliance and distinguished character to the affair. I look forward to hearing more from this exceptional group.
The German SLARTIBARTFASS score big with an excellent Highland bagpipe intro (nothing like the pipes to get a Scotsman’s blood pumping!) and Folk basis to their song, and rock things at maximum level with "St. Cuthbert", another great track. Latvia’s SKYFORGER build on their growing reputation with "A Crested Bird Sings" a sophisticated warrior-Folk piece with traditional male vocals and a serious deep viola sound and variety of Folk instruments. Top notch. Finally, Ireland’s SIROCCO end this heroic tale with "Forsaken Shores", an excellent NWOBHM-type piece based on a classic traditional Irish jig as befitting their extraction. Taking their arrangement further, they break into some great back-in-the-day Heavy Metal guitar solos, bringing not only the Irish tear to my eye but the Headbanger kid’s as well! Love the hammer-ons in the final solo, the undeniable Metal melody here brings back memories of the classic Heavy Metal era.
Not much to criticize with this ground-breaking compilation, only that I know this superlative concept could be resumed with more great releases, therefore it stands as a vision which will continue to hold promise. I can't commend Metal Message enough on its efforts to bring this unique and original Metal genre to the masses, a Metal genre that must be taken to the forefront.
I’m keen to hear Metal Message’s previous volumes, and learn more about this great Metal organization. Now a collector's item, I feel that any review of Metal Message compilations is worthy of the Vile Ent archives. The cover artwork envisioned by Metal Message founder Markus Eck and painted by Jean-Pascal Fournier is priceless, as is learning about these great bands from the info and photos provided in the booklet. A must-have, if at all possible!