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Midgard – Tales Of Kreia

Tales Of Kreia
by Matt Bozenda at 12 October 2020, 12:28 PM

To one degree or another, the ancient Viking tendrils that reached out from Europe’s far north permeate history and inform much of the modern culture which exists today. Along the area of what we now call Eastern Europe, the Vikings who continued to dwell there came to be known as the Varangians. The exact details of that people’s history are far too nuanced and extensive to get into for Metal Temple, but it’s worth remembering that the Vikings lived and went raiding along the lands fed by the Dnieper.

The Nordic influences remain to this very day, and you’ll find no clearer example than in the subgenre of ‘Folk Metal’. The distinctly old world strings and flutes entwined in the powerful electric madness of modern metal is where the magic comes from for bands who dare to try it. One such daring entity hailing from Ukraine is MIDGARD, whose strange evolution has brought the band to the release of their third album, "Tales of Kreia". A one-man band for the 2016 debut "Wolf Clan", then a quintet for 2019’s "Book Of Fate", the third album is the work of four musicians all working in professional harmony. Stylistically, their particular brand of Folk Metal takes a step forward with a flourish of influences all making a mark.

The folk part is only whispered of in the opening track, "Necromancer". It comes in with much more oomph in the following track, "The Horde", which starts on strings and chanting before giving way to Thrash. The opposite occurs on "Velmehazerun Dolian", but the elements are finally put together for "The Ring", which without a Ukrainian translator, feels like a toss-up between Tolkien and Wagner as for the particular jewelry in question.

The album’s midsection is bridged with a jarring fart to open "Dwarf King". Normally this critic is in favor of a lighthearted touch to metal once in a while, but here the joke falls flat, interrupting what was otherwise an excellent rhythm between songs and casting a shadow over a track worthy of headbanging. "Reaper" does a good job of reuniting the folk and metal sounds which had been largely separated in the two tracks prior, and does a successful test on their capabilities with clean vocals.

"Elven Blade" is a particularly good track, a true standalone moment and above all a fun tune that most definitely has a place in the 2020 all metal playlist. The folk aspect only backends the next two tracks, and the closer "Ice Spirit" does what it can to again recombine its two main elements, but it ultimately leaves the listener cold, for want of a heavier outro.

So, while it’s an improvement over the band’s previous outings, "Tales Of Kreia" is far from game changing. While the variation is part of what makes it work, the bandying from thrash to power to whatever else is highlighted, makes each track sometimes feel too far from each other, even in spite of playing well from one to the next. For eleven tracks at a little under forty-nine minutes, that can affect perspective: did that take forever, or did it go by too fast?

Ukrainian metalheads will get a lot more out of this album than anyone else, but there’s still enough going on in the international language that metalheads anywhere can appreciate it. But, if MIDGARD wants to be known above the usual Folk Metal headliners, they’ll need to get in stride for the full length of album four.

Musicianship: 8
Songwriting: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Necromancer
2. The Horde
3. Velmehazerun Dolian
4. The Ring
5. Dwarf King
6. Keeper Of The Freedom
7. Reaper
8. Elven Blade
9. The Hunt
10. Black Widow
11. Ice Spirit
Klym Apalkov – Vocals
Roman Kuznietsov – Guitars
Maxin Shatilo – Bass
Alex Kydriavtsev – Drums
Record Label: Sliptrick Records


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