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[ALBUM REVIEW] Huldre – Tusmørke

Band: Huldre
Album: Tusmørke
Release Date: 03.11.2016
Record Label: Gateway Music
Genre: Nordic/folk/pagan metal

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Huldre is a folk/pagan metal band from Denmark. Formed in 2010, their music can be described as the elegant fusion of Nordic folk music and metal. After having released their debut album “Intet Menneskebarn” in 2012, the band played in some venues and gained a dedicated fanbase.  They have recently released “Tusmørke”.  Continue reading “[ALBUM REVIEW] Huldre – Tusmørke”

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[ALBUM REVIEW] Myrkgrav – Takk og farvel; tida er blitt ei annen

Project: Myrkgrav
Album: Takk og farvel; tida er blitt ei annen
Release Date: 26.10.2016 (Streaming)
Record Label: Pest Productions (Physical format to be released soon)
Genre: Folk metal

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Myrkgrav is a one-man folk metal project founded in 2003 by Lars Jensen in Norway. The aim of this project has been to blend the traditional side of Norwegian folk music (with the use of traditional instruments) and the extreme/harsher side of metal. The fans have been waiting for a debut album for a while; the recent release of this project has been “Vonde Auer” which has been released as a single on 2014… 2 years after this release, Myrkgrav is (kind-of) back with an interesting full-length record. At the same time, a chapter is closed in this project as this release can be considered as a farewell from Mr.Jensen. So here is “Takk og farvel; tida er blitt ei annen”, which means “Thank you and farewell; times have changed”).  Continue reading “[ALBUM REVIEW] Myrkgrav – Takk og farvel; tida er blitt ei annen”

[ALBUM REVIEW] Svoid – Storming Voices of Inner Devotion

Band: Svoid
Album: Storming Voices of Inner Devotion
Release Date: April 2016
Record Label: Sun & Moon Records
Genre: Anti-Cosmic Metal

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Svoid is a Hungarian band. Formed in 2009, they were formed with the aim to define a link between All or Nothing, which represents the formless end. Hence, their genre can be generally described as anti-cosmic metal and features elements from different genres, but their style has been associated with black metal.  Continue reading “[ALBUM REVIEW] Svoid – Storming Voices of Inner Devotion”

[ALBUM REVIEW] Mortal Peril – The Legacy of War

Band: Mortal Peril
Album: The Legacy of War
Release Date: 21.05.2016
Record Label: Self-released
Genre: Thrash metal

MP Legacy of war Cover

Mortal Peril is a German thrash metal band. Formed in 2010, the band has been delivering some fine thrash metal! After releasing 1 EP and 1 debut album and some line-up changes, they have released their second album “The Legacy of War” recently! Continue reading “[ALBUM REVIEW] Mortal Peril – The Legacy of War”

An Interview With MYRKGRAV: “Where I Begin and Where the Music Ends Has Turned Out To Be Quite the Conundrum!”

For those who haven´t heard the name MYRKGRAV, this one-man folk metal project founded in 2003 by Lars Jensen in Norway. The band is heavily concept-based, with lyrical and visual themes rooted in folklore and local history from Lars’ homelands, Ringerike and its surroundings. Myrkgrav relies strongly on Norwegian folk music (including the use of traditional instruments) in its sound, while retaining a distinct extreme metal basis, such as to aspire towards bringing folk and metal together like it’s the most natural thing in the world.

After reviewing Myrkgrav´s latest single “Vonde auer”, I had to conduct an interview about it.All in all, there was a lot to be discussed regarding the project´s sound, the album and the mainman behind the project, Lars Jensen.

So, here it is! The fun and interesting e-mail interview with Mr. Jensen! Enjoy!

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Hello and greetings from Germany!

Firstly, thanks for taking time for this interview and congratulations on the release of the new single. How has the reaction been so far?

No, thank you!  The feedback so far has been very positive, although fans and critics alike are getting antsy for a full-length record instead of these small, independent releases Myrkgrav has put out over the course of the last few years – which I can certainly understand. What makes me very happy is that many zines that don’t normally do reviews of singles have made an exception and reviewed Vonde auer despite normal practice. I’ll take that as a huge compliment!

Oh and funny story, for the first time in Myrkgrav history I got a truly horrible review, by a person who had absolutely nothing positive to say about the new release and only compared it to the debut album. 2/10 score, fuck yeah!

 

How did you come up with the idea of a single and what was the idea behind Vonde auer? Especially when I compare this single to “Sjuguttmyra” (2013), this single has more of a natural approach. Was this intentional?

As the years go by, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to bridge the gap between the sound of Myrkgrav on the debut album Trollskau, Skrømt og Kølabrenning and what the project sounds like today, especially with no full-length releases after the debut. The Sjuguttmyra EP was definitely one step on the way towards incorporating more folk music in Myrkgrav, and Vonde auer is simply an extension of that idea.

There is also the discourse on whether releasing music in album format fits into the cultural mindset of people today, as our attention spans are getting shorter and most people prefer to get into a little at the time instead of sitting down for 45 minutes and listening to a full-length release. Don’t get me wrong, there will definitely be a second Myrkgrav album, but I have to admit it’s much more enjoyable to focus entirely on shorter releases when making them as well. You can put more work into the details because the workload isn’t as immense, which in my opinion makes for a higher standard in terms of overall quality of the whole “package”, so to say.

Not to mention, it’s common practice to release a single shortly before a new full-length album, right? 😉

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What does “Vonde auer” mean and what does the song tell?

As with most Myrkgrav lyrics, titles and content rarely translate well without having the cultural context explained. “Vonde auer” literally means “evil eyes”, which is what some sorcerers and conjurers were said to be in possession of in Nordic folklore. Basically what this meant was that the person with the evil eye had the power to inflict harm upon those who wronged them, and that is exactly what happens in the lyric of Vonde auer. A poor farmer quarrels with a Finnish woman who has the evil eye, and thus falls ill. The situation isn’t resolved before the farmer’s wife visits a (good) conjurer who tells her what to do to lift the Finnish woman’s spell and how to avoid it happening again. Basic Nordic folklore!

 

What is the story behind the album cover? It looks simple yet really interesting and beautiful.

The idea was to make a cover with a contemporary layout and design, while drawing on the traditional roots that is the core of everything Myrkgrav. One of Norway’s most famous late illustrators was Kjell Aukrust, and the illustrations on and in the cover is in a similar style as Aukrust’s many renderings of Norwegian agricultural life. I stumbled upon Erich Frey Illustration “by accident” a couple of years ago, when Frey had done a sketch of a picture of me he saw on reddit. Best advertisement he could’ve done for himself, keeping in mind that I was looking for exactly his style of artistry for cover art illustrations. The drawing on the front cover itself is a scene from the Vonde auer lyrics, which I have to say is impressive for being done by an American in the 21st century with little concept of what clothing and architecture in nineteenth century Norway is supposed to look like. Nailed it.

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In the song, a very special instrument called the ‘Hardanger fiddle’ is played by Olav Mjelva, which is really captivating! How did you collaborate with Olav and can you tell me a bit more about this instrument?

The Hardanger fiddle or Hardingfele is Norway’s national instrument, which is a highly decorated fiddle with 5-10 sympathetic understrings that ring together with the 4 strings being played by the bow; which creates a very unique tone that makes Norwegian folk songs stand out in regards to sound. Olav is a renowned professional musician who is very active with his own solo project and other bands, and is often featured on TV and such back in Norway, but I somehow managed to snag him before his career took off a few years back – seeing the potential in combining metal with more genuine folk music than many other folk metal bands were doing at the time. We’ve been working together ever since, and he already recorded all the Hardanger fiddle parts for the upcoming album in 2010. I can’t think of a more professional musician really, all I had to do was give him the instrumental songs and lay down some ideas as to what I wanted things to sound like, and he mostly came up with perfect phrasings on the first try for every damn song. He wrote the Vonde auer traditional version in about one hour the day after he came back from a tour in Scotland with his other band!

myrkgrav

 

Speaking of folk instruments; I have an interesting question. What is your favorite folk instrument; which folk instrument captivates you musically?

It’s got to be the willow flute. It’s such a simple design, and keeping in mind that you can make one for yourself in early spring that will only last a week or two before it dries out, it resembles the sound of spring itself for me. It’s got this uniquely airy, wooden tone to it that brings me back to simpler days – both in terms of it being an instrument I heard a lot of when I was younger, and because it’s featured in traditional Norwegian music. Listen to Fejd’s Vid Jore Å at the 03:20 mark and you’ll see what I mean.

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You are also studying besides music. How do you keep the balance between studies and the project?

My studies and Myrkgrav pretty much fall in line perfectly, in the sense that I study folkloristics at Åbo Akademi University in Turku, Finland. From my own personal prior research in the area combined with the new knowledge I gather from studying the field at the university, both give something to each other instead of cancel each other out. I know from firsthand experience that combining work and time-consuming hobbies such as music can be the worst inspiration killer ever, but I must admit that I find my studies only contribute positively to everything that is Myrkgrav. Besides, I don’t really work with Myrkgrav all that often anyway – although I certainly spend way more time with the project now than when I had a full-time job that sucked the very essence and life out of me, haha.

 

As a folk metal project, what do you think about today’s folk metal genre? Are there any folk metal bands or projects that you find interesting?

To be honest, I haven’t kept track of what’s new in the scene. There are a few bands that I listen to, such as Fejd, Dunderbeist (hardly folk metal) and Glittertind (now more like Mumford & Sons), but I have to admit that the genre doesn’t hold that much appeal for me personally. That was also one of the reasons why I founded Myrkgrav; in order to make the music that I wanted to hear – as it is with most musicians. One thing I will absolutely never understand the appeal of, is all the party folk metal. It’s hardly any folk in it at all, and a lot of bands seem to spend more time singing about partying and actually partying than composing decent music. Maybe I’m just getting old, but what the hell.

 

Myrkgrav has been formed initally as a ‘black metal’ project but with the previous and also with the latest single, we see a different style. How did this ‘change of style’ evolve?

I’ve gotta be honest, and the reason why Myrkgrav started as a black metal band is because I didn’t yet have the knowledge and musical ability to write more melodically complex music with folk music incorporated in it. I’ve always strived to evolve the project’s sound towards the latter, and that happened only after the debut album was released really. Trollskau was written by a 17 year-old idealist, and it definitely sounds as such too. Not to criticize the past, but personally I think I’ve come a long way since then in terms of musicianship and such.

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Myrkgrav was formed in 2003 and you are still active all these years with a good fanbase. Do you have any wish/wishes for the project that you want to fulfill in the upcoming years?

Mostly I just want to finish the sophomore full-length album, after working on it on and off for almost eight years. As my musical preferences have shifted significantly, it would be a great to be able to get some closure and move on from the past in order to open doors to new soundscapes and musical realms. Whether or not that will be anything in line with Myrkgrav that will be easy to get into for old fans, I guess time will tell. Either way it always sounds peculiarly Lars-y, where I begin and where the music ends has turned out to be quite the conundrum!

 

Any last words to say to your fans?

I would simply like to say thank you to all the fans for the continued support throughout the years! Without a record label backing you up it’s pretty difficult getting the word out in terms of new releases and such, so I would simply encourage fans to help me do the dirty work and spread the message of Myrkgrav still being alive and well! Also, the second album is coming – I promise!

 

Special thanks to : Lars Jensen and Markus Eck!

More info:

Myrkgrav Official

Myrkgrav Facebook

 

[ALBUM REVIEW] Toxic Waltz – Decades of Pain

Band : Toxic Waltz

Album : Decades of Pain

Release Date : 23.01.2014

Record Label : Self – released

Genre :  Thrash metal

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Toxic Waltz is a German metal band formed by the lead guitarist Jimi and the former drummer Tim in 2009. The band’s diverse songwriting and aggressive music style, which can be defined as thrash metal, earned the band bigger audiences and with the rising success, the band played live shows with bands such as Debauchery and Six Feet Under.

Toxic Waltz recently released their first debut album called Decades of Pain and the band caught my attention. Moreover I was curious about the potential of this young band.

Album Review

What caught my attention from the first second was the melodic intro that led way to full-on, thrash-y songs. The passion and rage in the songs never stop for a second in the whole album and this is what makes Decades of Pain a good record when it comes to a thrash metal album. Soundwise, the record is really smooth; the vocals sung by Angelo are really fierce whereas the guitar riffs and the drumbeats played by Jimi, Alex and Flo are in full harmony. Although I would have loved more guitar solos in the album, I have to say it’s not bad considering that it’s the first record of these German thrash metallers. The listener will truly see that the band made a great effort for this album; this is not an album recorded ‘just for the sake of it’ but the band really poured their anger and their heart into every song. Personally, I prefer the first half of the album as it truly reflected the band’s style quite well.

Decades of Pain will attract every listener who loves thrash metal. However, I should mention that although the album shows the good potential of the band, it lacked originality. When it comes to thrash metal, being original and ‘different’ from others are the important elements to become more known and I kinda feel that Toxic Waltz has a long way to go. “Decades of Pain” is a good record for a start and I am sure the band will keep improving their sound in the future and attract bigger audiences. “Decades of Pain” might be an average record but it sure is hell of a good start for Toxic Waltz.

Rating: 7/10

DECADES OF PAIN Tracklisting:

  1. Intro
  2. Decades of Pain
  3. World of Hate
  4. Toxic Hell
  5. Suicide Squad
  6. Green
  7. Morbid Symphony
  8. Priest of Lie
  9. Obsession To Kill

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More Info :

Toxic Waltz Facebook

An Interview With CALADMOR : “The New Album Can Be Set As A Milestone”

Swiss epic folk metallers CALADMOR released their second debut album Of Stones and Stars on August 2013 and with the release of the album, they have immediately caught my attention. Normally, when it comes to folk metal bands, I have to admit that not all bands are quite unique but what I loved most with Caladmor was the fact that they are female fronted and the diversity in their sound

After reviewing the album, I also decided to do an e-mail interview with Babs (vocals)  and Maede (drums, growls, clean vocals, synth).

Check out their answers below! 😀

Hello! Firstly, congratulations on your new album „Of Stones and Stars“. How do you feel?

Babs:  Hey! Thank you very much – actually we feel very good about the release of Of Stones and Stars. We are especially happy about all the awesome reviews and the fact that our fans seem to love the album as well. We worked almost two years on the album, gave all our time and hearts to it –so we feel of course also a bit revealed that all went that well and the result is convincing.

Maede:  We are happy and a bit tired! 🙂

You guys have recently played a gig with Swiss metallers ELUVEITIE. How has the feedback on the album been in the gig? How was the whole atmosphere?

Babs: Ah it was overwhelming. The audience was amazing – open minded and open hearted – and we rocked our asses off to let them have a great time with us.  🙂

Maede: It was fantastic to play in front of 1000 People! I think people liked us very much, we got a lot of good feedback and sold a lot of merch. 🙂

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It’s been 3 years since you released a new record and I think the band’s evolution can be clearly seen in this album. What changed in these 3 years musically? How did you evolve as a band in this time?

Babs: Well thank you!  Indeed we improved a lot in our instrumental and vocal skills. I feel more confident with my voice now than I did on Midwinter. Concerning songwriting I guess we also made some progress as the songs might sometimes show more depth and emotions than on Midwinter – at least in my opinion.

Maede: Songwriting and arranging have become more complex during the continuous improvements of our skills and experience.  We can also say that we even grew stronger as a ‘family’. We still are quite different when it comes to our personal styles and this explains the variety in our music.

When I listen to the album, a lot of legendary folk/pagan metal bands like ELUVEITIE or WINTERSUN come to my mind. What were your musical influences for “Of Stones and Stars”?

Maede: Well, when I (and the others too I guess) write songs, I don’t have specific bands or songs in mind I wanna sound like, that would be cheap. But bands I most listen to are Ensiferum, Turisas, Amon Amarth, Amorphis, Eluveitie, Therion, Tyr and quite a few others, so I think you are automatically ‘influenced’ by those big bands. 🙂

We try to get our inspiration from not only bands but  different sources;  literature, philosophy, history etc.

Another thing that got my attention is the stories behind the songs; every song tells a story. How did you get inspired for that?

Babs: Well observed 😀  This is truly one fact behind the motivation to call our music “Epic” Folk Metal – the songs are indeed lyrically inspired by some old greek or medieval epic poems. When it comes to tales I kind of never really grew up – I love every kind of tales, stories and mythological legends and since I’m studying German linguistics and literature at the university, I’m happy to come in touch with lots and lots of legends, tales and epic poems, and they often inspire me to make a song or to weave them in our lyrical content.

Speaking of ELUVEITIE, two bandmembers from Eluveitie were also featured in this album. How did you get to work with Chrigel and Päde?

Babs: Actually Päde was only involved on Midwinter (1405 A.D.) while Chrigel only supported us on the new album on ‘Dawn of the Deceiver’ and ‘Heralds of Doom’.

Maede: When I composed ‘Dawn of the Deceiver’, I knew that only Chrigel could play those flutes as I intended to. We know each other from earlier days (a few beers long time ago) and I just ask him if he would play flutes and bagpipes on a few tracks. He liked our songs from the preproduction and consented.

The name of the album is also interesting. What does “Of Stones and Stars” mean?

Babs: Actually it first was the name of the song and then became also the title of the album because we loved its poetic sound. But I really also love the lyrics of the song ‘Of Stones and Stars’ because there are several stories woven into it. Maede wrote the song and came up with a part of the lyrics. His first intention was to make a song inspired by the fable of the greek philosopher Thales of Miletus who fell into a well because he did observe the stars while walking, not taking care what was lying in front of him (so the ‘stones’ in the title of the song are metaphoric for the wall). We changed the meaning of this a bit into “When you look upon the stars, you realize you are nothing compared.” We added also some other aspects to the lyrics, for example such as “free your mind from all that dies”, which is reminding of the baroque Vanitas poetry (memento mori).

What is your personal favorite from “Of Stones and Stars”?

Babs: Hmm that’s a difficult one! 🙂  ‘Mimirs Born’ is the one I love most to do on stage because of its energy and the singing passages. ‘Helios Sky’ also means a lot to me because I wrote the whole choir and I just love how the result is sounding. And ‘A Nymph’s Lure’ is the most interesting song to sing as it demands a certain interpretation of the Nymph done by the vocals.

Maede: I like all songs very much. ‘Of stones and stars’ and ‘Alvissmal’ are great. I really love Babs’ vocals on ‘A Nymph’s Lure’ and on ‘Laudine’s Lament’.

A lot of fans will wonder about the touring schedule for sure. Is there a possibility of a tour in Europe? I would personally love to see you play in Germany!

Babs: Sure we would love to tour through Europe! We already checked some possibilities and as usual it unfortunately is a question of money which we do not have. So we’re thinking about a crowd funding action to collect some and conquer at least our neighbor countries! Would be a blast of course!

You guys are from Switzerland, which is a country that is kind-of known when folk metal is considered. What can you say about the Swiss metal scene?

Maede: The good thing about the swiss metal scene is that it is very small, the bad thing is that it’s quite intolerant and not very open. Most people just listen to death and thrash metal. For some idiots, female fronted metal is still not real metal, that’s just bullshit. But we made the experience, that our fanbase is constantly growing and very loyal, so we stick to them!

A big problem is also the organizers. You always see the big names on stage and you have no chance as a ‘smaller’ band to play on big stages, if you don’t have very good connections and lots of money. And quite a lot of organizers book only death/thrash and black metal as I said before.

CALADMOR has a long history; you guys have been formed in 2001 and it’s been 12 years now. When you look back, what can you say about the biggest achievement on your career so far?

Babs: Yes it is a long history indeed. I think the new album can be set as a milestone as we really feel comfortable with it, feeling that we have made an album that is really representing us.

What lies in the future of the band? Do you have any plans?

Babs: Yes, one plan is as mentioned to tour different countries outside Switzerland. Caladmor wants to see the world! 🙂 Also we plan to write new songs, Maede has already some stuff in mind. And who knows, maybe there will some side projects, too…

Lastly, what do you wanna say to your fans? 🙂

Babs: Hey ya crazy fellows out there! We’re coming to get you as soon as possible with one of our shows!! Thank you for all your support so far! Keep visiting us in our virtual homes for any news from the Caladmorian lands.

Thanks to :  Babs, Maede from Caladmor and Markus Eck from Metalmessage! 🙂

http://www.caladmor.ch
http://www.facebook.com/Caladmor

[ALBUM REVIEW] Caladmor – Of Stones and Stars

Band : Caladmor

Album : Of Stones and Stars

Genre : Epic Folk Metal

Release Date : 30.08.2013

Record Label : Self-released

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Caladmor is a band from Pale, Switzerland. The band was formed in 2001. The meaning of the name – ‘dark light’ – is a significant paradox marking the music of CALADMOR.

The band’s first album “Midwinter”, which was released on 2010 via Twilight Zone Records, already made the band quite convincing and successful and now the band continues their musical journey with their second album “Of Stones and Stars”, which features the famous musicians Chrigel Glanzmann (Eluveitie) and the virtuoso Joel Gilardini (The Land of The Snow, Lunatic Fringe and Mulo Muto).

Epic tunes creating epic wideness, thundering guitar riffs and striking melodies meet the vocals of Babs and drummer Maede, leading the listener on a philosophical path through the land of myths from exhilarating heights down to the edge of the abyss.

The band has caught my attention as soon as I read that the new album was going to be released and how I enjoyed the album!

Album Review

The first song „Curse of the Gods“ greets the listener with an awesome melody and powerful riffs. At first listen, the song has a strong resemblance  of the early Ensiferum era – especially the Ensiferum songs “Iron” and “White Storm” . I really loved how the female and male vocals are in perfect harmony; the listener will especially admire the female vocals sung by Babs. I always love metal female vocalists who are a bit different and unique from the typical female singers and Babs can also be counted in this category.

With “The Raid”, the vibe of the album gets a bit ‘harsher’ and the successful and smooth growls sung by Maede definitely matches with the song title.

One song, that can be considered as a highlight is definitely “Dawn of the Deceiver”. The song is special since Eluveitie’s Chrigel Glanzmann took part in it and I think this shows, because the song has a huge Eluveitie resemblance. Furthermore, the clean vocals totally surprised me and I am sure the listener will really enjoy how smooth these vocals are and how they add another flavor to the essence of the band’s sound.

Another highlight of the album, which is also the first video, is “Alvissmal”.  Compared to the previous songs and also the rest of the album, this song can be considered as one of the harshest songs along with “Mimirs Born” and “A Nymph’s Lure”. Surely the melodic elements are there but the strong black metal influences make “Alvissmal” and the other two songs quite different and catchy for the lovers of the darker side of metal.

With “Loudine’s Lement”, the listener will – once again- be surely amazed by Babs’ voice. I think this song also represents the symphonic/melodic/folk side of the band and it shows just how diverse and entertaining this album is. Speaking of diversity, something has to be said about “Heralds of Doom”. For a folk metal fan like me, who loves bagpipes and male choirs, this song is just undescribable and it made me shiver for sure. Apart from that, “Taberna Trollis” can be considered as the most joyful song in the album; its fast rhythm and the power of the e-guitars will make the listeners dance and headbang for sure!

Generally, “Of Stones and Stars” is an album full of beauty and diversity. What I liked most about the  was how the band managed to create this diversity with the male and female vocals rather than the folk instruments or the e-guitars. While listening to the album, I got that feeling that the female vocals and the clean male vocals/choir, which are truly unique, represented the symphonic/folk/softer side of the band whereas the growls, which resemble the vocals of Chrigel Glanzmann (Eluveitie) and Jari Mäenpää (Wintersun), represented that harshness and brutality and this made the album much more entertaining and catchy. Surely, the same thing can be said about the different styles throughout the album; some songs have black/death metal influences while the other songs have the pure folk/symphonic atmosphere and I think that this is something that Caladmor has successfully managed to do by integrating different styles into their essence.Another thing I liked was the stories told within each song. This is always a plus for me with bands like Caladmor.

 “Of Stones and Stars” is definitely one of my favorite metal albums of 2013. I am so glad to have discovered this band. If you love melody, harshness and that folk atmosphere, you will love Caladmor!

Rating : 9/10

Tracklisting :

  1. Curse of the Gods
  2. The Raid
  3. Of Stones and Stars
  4. Dawn of the Deceiver
  5. Alvissmal
  6. Laudine’s Lement
  7. Mimirs Born
  8. A Nymph’s Lure
  9. Heralds of Doom
  10. Taberna Trollis
  11. Helios Sky

CALADMOR is :

Barbara – Vocals
Maede – Drums, Growls, Clean Voice, Synths
Nick – Guitar
Mäsi – Guitar
Mäcka – Bass

http://www.caladmor.ch

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