I’ve been on a metal kick recently. I have never been terribly familiar with metal as a musical genre. The only metal band I could reasonably describe myself as a fan of is System of a Down. A while ago, I had been interested in finding other music like System of a Down, but I quickly learned that S.O.A.D. is entirely unique in their own right. They’re basically thrash, but the influence of Central Eurasian music (the band members are all Armenian-American) is unmistakable in much of their music, such as in the waltz-like breakdown in the middle (2:18) of “Radio/Video” off of 2005’s Mezmerize.
Similar themes are peppered throughout S.O.A.D.’s music, but not to the extent that they could be described as folk metal. The band also has/d a habit a inserting various genres into many of their songs, absorbing those sounds into their already strange – and often highly politicized – version of thrash. In that way, System of a Down tends to occupy a subgenre of their own, much like Muse, actually.
Anyway, I stumbled upon this post on imgur listing various bands for several of the main subgenres of metal. I decided I’d take advantage and spread my metal wings a bit to see if I could find at least a few bands I could really get into. Turns out I found a new favorite subgenre of music.
Folk metal is basically metal that uses folk instruments; there are a lot of accordions, fiddles, and unconventional percussion instruments being played over heavy drop-chords and double-bass-laden drums. Korpiklaani, a Finnish band on that folk metal list, actually reminds me of a much heavier Flogging Molly with their up-tempo, jig-style music and the lead singer’s gruff shantytown voice.
Viking metal, a subgenre in itself of folk metal, is full of themes of… you guessed it, Norse mythology. I majored in history in college. I studied German. I have read most of the major Norse myths. I know who Snorri Sturluson is, and his impact on Medieval Icelandic folklore. (He quite literally wrote the book on it.) Do you see where I’m going here? Viking metal was pretty much made for me.
Enter: Týr; a Faroese band whose albums are mostly named after Norse myths. Of the bands on that imgur post, Týr stuck out to me . The lead singer’s voice is imposing but clear (I’m not a huge fan of screamo, growling vocals), and the instrumentals are fast and heavy, but not ear-shattering. I ended up purchasing 2009’s By the Light of the Northern Star, and have listened to it countless times already. I’m about ready to buy another of their albums, or perhaps that Korpiklaani album I mentioned earlier.
Luckily, it turns out the epic lyrical themes and driving instrumentals of folk metal are a great motivator when I’m writing, so I have more than a few songs to add to my writing playlist for NaNo. Win-win.
So, to any other metal fans out there, which bands/subgenres are you into? Are there other Scandinavian Viking metal bands I have to check out? I’m all ears.