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Heathen Foray - Into Battle

Heathen Foray
Into Battle
by Matt "Wolverine" Johnson at 27 May 2015, 10:18 AM

Let us just think for a moment about how awesome it would be if the music of ENSIFERUM and DRAGONFORCE got together and produced offspring. Knowing that will never happen, we can thank the quintet behind the next best thing: HEATHEN FORAY! The arpeggio-laden guitar playing combined with the thunder of Pagan Folk Metal drums create a sense of what it might be like. This Austrian Metal powerhouse list the mighty AMON AMARTH and BLIND GUARDIAN as some of their influences, and it is evident in the powerful sound produced on their latest album "Into Battle!" Not to be confused with TURISAS's "Battle Metal" though there are similarities, this album has all of the punch of Melodic Death Metal with the grace and style of a capable and unique Folk Metal band.

HEATHEN FORAY set out with the apparent intent of dominating your stereo speakers and by no means did they disappoint! The first two songs are strong examples of what this band's sound typically consists of, with insane guitar riffs set to up-tempo rhythms. The third song "Wofür ich streit´" has a ballad-style intro which finally gives way to a crescendo then to Heavy Metal power riffs about two and a half minutes in, though still set to a slower snare tap. The solo is melodic and flowing, featuring some tapping techniques and has that hook that gives it some major listenability.

The album then goes directly back into the faster-paced songs, still with the presence and might that requires the crowd to pump their fists into the air to the beat. "Tir Na nOg" is one track that certainly has that headbanging feel to it. "Unthinking" is one of those songs that seamlessly blends Pagan, Power, and Folk Metal and will no doubt strike a listener's ears as something that sounds familiar in several Metal realms.

So if you have heard any Metal song about trolls, you will probably understand the polka rhythm that usually accompanies it. Take "Knüppeltroll" and compare it to songs by FINNTROLL or TROLLFEST and you will see a certain similitude among them. Throw in some similar riffs comparable to RAMMSTEIN and you get the drift. Regardless, it will either have you tapping your feet or checking your pulse.

The "last" two songs are very structured and hold a hefty presence through the air. I use quotations around "last" because there is technically a hidden track, but I will get to that momentarily. "Freundschaft" translates to what it sounds like: Friendship. And as such it has its moments of beautiful melody and moments of heaviness. "Wigrid" is more symphonic, featuring a lovely, extended string section intro then lifting the listener to the clouds on the wings of yet another blissful crescendo on the album. By the name in Norse mythology, it seems appropriate as a theme song for the location of a battle that occurs during Ragnarok.

Ending the album is the aforementioned hidden track "Winterking". This is the rare song sung in English, and though acoustic, it features an almost hip-hop rhythm backing the choir of male voices lyricizing in almost-rap fashion. There are too many stylistic hints to list at one time. There also appears to be a mandolin featured on this track. To that, I shrugged and let my ears absorb the festive tune.

One of these days I am sure I will have heard enough German lyrics that I will be able to navigate that region of Europe without getting lost. There is no shortage of that on this album, so unfortunately without the help of a translator, I am mostly lost on the lyrics. However, not a damned thing could subtract from my listening experience across "Into Battle" and I am very excited to see how others like myself have enjoyed it! Bravo!

4 Star Rating

1. Fight
2. Silence
3. Unthinking
4. Wofür ich streit´
5. Tír na nOg
6. Knüppeltroll
7. Freundschaft
8. Wigrid
Robert Schroll - Vocals
Zhuan - Guitars
Alexander Wildinger - Guitars
Max Wildinger - Bass
Markus "Puma" Kügerl - Drums
Record Label: Massacre Records


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