Mulmets Viser

Written by: EW on 21/03/2010 10:10:51

For all the bands that idolise the Viking era for the creation of their heavy metal tapestry surprisingly few come from one of the countries at the heart of the ancient Viking era - Denmark. We could all state a thousand Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish bands, yet I could only name you a handful of Danish examples and Svartsot would be the only recognisable as 'Viking metal', or to be more exact relative to the flute-led rhythmic overtones on "Mulmets Viser", folk metal. When somewhat surrounded by Germany, Britain, Sweden and Norway the reason for Denmark's lack of great contribution (King Diamond and Lars Ulrich aside) to metal is hard to fathom, but perhaps the answer lies here in "Mulmets Viser".

I know not of Svartsot prior to this engagement, but in researching the band they are clearly not the most deadly serious about their craft, using the template of folk metal to make fun songs that will get heads banging and beers a'drunken. Nothing wrong with that, but from the outset such a mentality is clear as day across a collection of songs which take residence in being averagely-constructed and similarly-natured, never threatening to separate the band in any artistic manner from the numerous other (Scandinavian) bands out there. Thanks to the benefit of an accompanying 'track commentary' sheet I have some idea of what these Danish sung tracks are about, and this comes as an almighty relief: had I digested songs like "Lokkevisen" without ever knowing it was based on "folk stories about mortal men being lured into the forest by groups of dancing elf-women" or "Laster og Tarv" and its depiction of a "man who just can't be tethered by his wife!" I feel my life would be significantly poorer because of it. The mixture of light-hearted topics and more serious (though typical of the genre) fare makes for an interesting read in conjunction with the consistent and simplistic folk metal being played alongside with it's rich reliance on the sounds of flute, whistles and mandolin to be the main driver for most of the album's 50 minutes.

Everyone's favourite Vikings Amon Amarth come across as the main influence to Svartsot, at least when they choose to lead by guitar in songs like "Højen på glødende Pæle" and "På Odden af hans hedenske Sværd". In contrast to the typically BM-derived vocals common within the genre those of frontman Thor Bager are primarily a death metal grunt, bearing strong resemblance to Nathan Explosion of Dethklok fame, a style which will be common ground to all extreme metal fans but it is the act of hearing it alongside the inoffensive sounds of flutes and whistles that provides one of the biggest hurdles to overcome here. Unlike Amon Amarth, who throughout their career have continuously battered the listener with riffs both heavy and catchy, these defining moments do not come round frequently enough in the works of Svartsot and with 12 songs offering little in the way of song structure or duration "Mulmets Viser" will end up better in the live environment and when drinking merrily with mates, as a more thorough analysis of its treasures is only likely to end in a bout of disappointment at it's lack of variation and depth. I'm sure Denmark must be able to offer something better in the genre...


Download: Højen på glødende Pæle, På Odden af hans hedenske Sværd, Lokkevisen
For The Fans Of: Amon Amarth, Manegarm, Black Messiah
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 26.03.2010
Napalm Records

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