Icelandic folk/Viking metal band have released Skálmöld have released their 5th studio album titled Sorgir via Napalm Records. Sorgir was released on the 12th of October and it is one of the finest folk metal album you will hear in 2018.
Sorgir, which translates as “emerge” is an astonishing good piece of work, chock full of ice cold anthems and glorious instrumentation. Following on from their excellent 2016 release, Vögguvísur Yggdrasils, Sorgir should end up being the must have album for any self respecting fan of folk metal in 2018. Skálmöld formed back in 2009 in Reykjavik. Not messing around they have managed to record a new album every two years bringing us to 5 in total as well as a live album, Skálmöld og Sinfóniuhljómsveit Íslands, in 2013.
Skálmöld are Björgvin Sigurðsson on main vocals and guitar. All other members also provide backing vocals in different styles but in regards to instruments, Baldur Ragnarsson and Þráinn Árni Baldvinsson are both also on guitars. Snæbjörn Ragnarsson is on the bass and Jón Geir Jóhannsson is on the drums. Finally, on oboe and keyboards is Gunnar Ben.
Sorgir is 9 songs and a good 54 minutes in length. Yep, there are some anthems on here. The whole album has song titles in Icelandic and as far as I can tell, all the lyrics are Icelandic as well but that does not take any enjoyment away at all. Of course it would be nice to know what they are saying but you kind of feel what they are saying anyway so we are all good.
Sorgir is basically a brilliant album. It is packed full of momentous riffs and melodies, powerful drum sections that move between rhythmic and blasting. Vocally they are predominantly unclean with a few different pitches and tones and lots of gang vocals and choir like sections. The big takeaway though is how strong the riffs are. Opener Ljósið is a fine example of this with a riff that has you headbanging from the first note. Barnið is similar, utilising a slowed down, deeply tuned riff to slow headbang along too.
Gangári goes for a quicker, thrashier sound with some expert drum blasts on show. Brúnin also hits you with a speedier riff and a ton of groove. Skotta, Móri, Mara – hell, every single song on this album has a riff that makes you quickly interested and will have that head moving. It isn’t just all about great riffs though. There is so much more on offer. Highlighting the riff, you often find higher, melodic guitar lines coming in over the top early on into the song that are just perfect. Sverðið is a fine example of this with a bass heavy riff topped off by a melodic, weaving lead guitar that spins out a gloriously catchy folk melody.
There are plenty of great solos and instrumental sections with switching pace and timing. Mara has one of my personal favourite instrumental sections which sees it move from a gentle acoustic melody into a catchy and long electric guitar driven section. It lasts for a couple minutes but goes by in seconds. Vocally it is strong, and heavy too. Most verses are delivered with a gruff, almost monotone style and then backing vocals come in to add harmony and chant like elements. There are a few occasions where the delivery changes to roars and a few where the pitch turns to a higher screech, to keep it fresh enough. Loads of well sung choir sections add to the folk bit. They often come in choruses giving a sense of epic to each one.
The folk comes more in the structure of the songs, the melody played on the lead guitar and keys and the mix of vocals in choruses. This isn’t folk with a huge array of never before heard instruments. It is a bit more like Amon Amarth played to folk like song structures and speeds. While a few songs do lean more heavily on that folkish sound, a vast majority of them dabble in other genres, like thrash and traditional metal. My favourite song you ask? Well, I am torn between two at the moment. Mara is brilliant. Heavy and catchy and full of instrumentals that switch between powerful riffs and catchy hooks.
The other, that would be Sverðið. This one leans more on folk than any other song on the album and it is catchy it is unreal. I promise you, if you like this sort of music, you will love this song within 3 seconds of it starting. The guitars are perfect, there is load of choral esque backing. Harmonised vocals, wicked drum rhythms – it has it all.
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Sorgir is one hell of an album. I absolutely love it. It is heavy, rough sounding and gets you pumped up. The guitars are mixed between deep and dirty to bright and melodic. The drum work is exceptional and a real driving force on the album. The bass is slamming, the vocals are strong. All of the songs are seriously well composed and structured in an exciting and intriguing way. I wouldn’t change a thing on Sorgir. This os right up there for album of the year for me. Amazing job!
You can, and should, check out Sorgir on all the usual streaming services now, like Apple Music and Spotify. You can also grab a copy from the band’s Bandcamp page here. Find out more about Skálmöld at their Bandcamp page, on Facebook, at their website and on Twitter.
Sorgir by Skálmöld (Napalm Records)
The Final Score - 10/10