Månegarm – Legions of the North

manegarm_legionsWhen Viking/Pagan Metal lacks any strain of Black Metal (or Death Metal/other extreme Metal variants), I tend to lose interest quickly. The harshness of the latter genre(s) grates the potential cheese-flesh right off the bones of the former. Månegarm straddle the divisions between the subgenres with relative ease, and though I prefer more filth in my production, their latest, Legions of the North, lights the sky proudly as any flame for the old conquerors should.
Harbingers of Norse mythology and Paganism since the late ’90s, Månegarm have honed the blades of their craft long enough to create a sonic sharpness few armored musicians can match. Medieval melody lines abound, taking you back to era when stone and steel were as likely to determine fates as scarcity or disease. When the BM tempos arrive heralded by a slit-throat delivery, the clamor of death-dealers rampaging over the hillside can be felt as well as heard. The clean ‘whoa-ohs’ can unfortunately inject a little dairy back into the proceedings, but as their inclusion is intended to diversify rather than stultify, they are easily ignored in favor of the album’s strengths. And strengths abound: opener and title track ‘Legions of the North’ boils the blood properly, preparing you for the pillaging that is to come with its warlust-filled battlecry of a chorus. For a Metal march of the highest order (literally and figuratively), join the scourge hailed in ‘Hordes of Hel’, a track that would have been appreciated in any mead hall for its catchiness and celebratory cadence. Along with the welcome electric and vokill clamor, violins, acoustic guitars, female vocals and choirs help forge the unblemished Scandinavian swords brandished herein.
That self-same cleanliness, however, also happens to be one of Legions of the North few weaknesses. A few dents in the polished helmet, a chink in the glinting broadsword, and Månegarm’s latest would fully embrace the grit of those they pay homage to. The unnamed Viking berserker made famous at the crossing at Stamford Bridge would have preferred their 1998 debut Nordstjärnans Tidsålder for its more hate-fueled dynamics methinks (as I do). Nevertheless, Manegarm’s quality-level, as shown on Legions of the North, remains high as before, and shows no sign of depleting. -Jim

Napalm Records

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~ by cliftonium on July 10, 2013.

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