The Glorious Dead

Written by: MN on 07/04/2015 23:13:05

I initially got acquainted with Vanir at a metal event called Hellbound in which I volunteered. This being the first edition of Hellbound, and probably the first real metal event to feature in the communal student house of Copenhagen, Vanir where set to test their abilities with Viking lore-inspired metal upon a crowd largely mixed of metal and non-metal heads. Initially bewildered by the bad sound at the gig, I soon, however, came to like their fantastical take on metal, all in all raising swords, boars' heads, hammers, mead by the litres and whatever other viking relics one can imagine. Vanir has thus far released 3 records of which their latest effort is named "The Glorious Dead", a 49-minute savagery of a record, that has some clear-cut highlights but also its setbacks. It's a real shame, considering Vanir have immeasurable potential. The production of the record is not particularly sharp, but rather deep, morose and raucous, which given their inspiration from the berzerk Vikings, is actually a suitable mix. The drums are thunderous throughout with plenty of potency in the omnipresent double pedals while the dual guitars have the distortion cranked up to create a somewhat lo-fi quality, but again, this should be taken as a quality.

Vanir is a band who hail from Roskilde, Denmark which is famous for its festival but also for its impressive Viking ship museum. The fields of Roskilde and the fjords are plentiful in inspiration for these youngsters to produce folk metal that, with a hint of humor, makes for a decent feel-good metal experience. Opening track "Fall Of The Eagle" opens with the guttural snarls of Martin Håkan, who clearly has made a conscious effort to sound more menacing than on previous releases. One element that seems to flow endlessly throughout the record is the addition of bagpipes, which at times is very successful, but at others, frankly annoying. In this case, my advice would be to consider the cliché of "less is more". "March Of The Giants" employs a death metal attitude where the bagpipes melodically work really well, but the production makes it sound less than potent enough to come across.

"Written In Blood" is one of the better tracks with a pummeling double pedal and wicked guitar work. Definitely one of the more angry tracks on the record. "I Valkyriernes Skød" sets the tempo down a bit and could benefit from omitting the bagpipes, perhaps add some other folkloric instruments to the mix. Again, the bagpipes just don't come across with enough force! This song is also sung in Danish though, which is refreshing and very Viking-like! "The Flames Of Lindisfarne" is one of my personal favourite tracks, with some clear thrash elements present.

Vanir are becoming a staple of the Danish folk metal scene and their productivity will hopefully not decrease. I am hoping to see even more border-breaking experimentation, more folk elements (perhaps in the form of other instruments than the bagpipes) and for Martin Håkan to continue to challenge his vocal abilities. His vocal performances can, at times, astound, but his performance does also become monotonous. Vanir have produced a worthwhile record, but it is not something I found myself spinning relentlessly.

Download: Blood Sacrifice, Written In Blood, The God Emperor
For The Fans Of: Ensiferum, Finntroll, Furor Gallico

Release date: 10.07.2014
Mighty Music

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