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Vanir - Sagas

by Oil Gonzalez at 03 April 2022, 7:10 AM

It’s an uncharacteristically cold morning here in the UK. A minor blizzard infected the land and made it’s icy presence known. There’s also ice on the windshield of my car. Is there a better time to give Danish Viking metal act VANIR and their latest album “Sagas” a listen? Describing themselves as “one of Denmark’s most well-known and prominent Viking melodic death metal bands”, my expectations were high. This is also their 6th album overall, so at this stage, their craft should be pretty well honed. They also describe themselves as being for fans of AMON AMARTH, ENSIFERUM, and KALMAH.

Listening to the album, I definitely drew comparisons to KALMAH. This is achieved by Martin’s fierce mid range growl, the fast pace energy and tempo, as well as the clever use of synths throughout. I assumed this was synths, but turns out the band actually have a live keyboard player in their ranks! Excellent. I could hear the intermittent use of traditional string instruments too, just to add to that Viking flavour. I particularly enjoyed some of the guitar-led songs, like “Sessrúmnir”. The rest of the band would hold down the fort whilst lead guitarist Kirk would lay down a delightful guitar riff, hypnotic and aesthetic in it’s own right, adding the melodic to melodic death metal. I’ve been a huge admirer of the band INSOMNIUM for a while as this is also prominent in their music, so for any fans of this band, I’d definitely recommend VANIR.

As well as these melodic death and Viking elements, I could see influences from the early 00 metalcore era creeping in. “The Bounty Of Flesh And Bone” screams of metalcore, for me at least. “Visdomsmjøden” also features of those rhythmic elements and breakdowns you’d expect on a core album. This is by no means a criticism. Quite the opposite. It’s awesome that they’re spanning across other genres. Some highlights and talking points for me. Definitely the opening to “Day of Reckoning”. I felt the hairs on my beard grow, as well as an urge to pick up my shield and axe up and launch myself into battle. Not that I own a shield. But in all seriousness, that 90 seconds or so set the tone for the album perfectly. I knew they weren’t here to mess around. That would make a fantastic opening track to get the audience in the mood.

Interestingly, I did actually listen to this whilst driving to my day job. Twice. Honestly, I did think the production values where way off the mark. Maybe it’s my car stereo, because when I listened to the album again at home with my studio quality headphones, everything sounded so much better. The synth and keys tracks sat elegantly in the background, the guitar riffs sounded sharp and bright, and whilst the vocals had previously sounded muddy and overpowering, they sat perfectly in the mix through my head phones. I guess that’s a lesson to never right an album off completely until you’ve listened to it through a few mediums. There’s still some room for improvement, but there’s definitely a lot to admire.

Overall, the band certainly have a lot going for them. It would be interesting to do a deep dive into their back catalogue to see how their sound has evolved. I still think there’s some work to do to fully find their sound and separate themselves from their idols.

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

3 Star Rating

1. Day Of Reckoning
2. Black Clad
3. See The Dragons Ride
4. Dødsfærd
5. Eindriði
6. Sessrúmnir
7. The Bounty Of Flesh And Bone
8. Æresstrid
9. Battle Of Middle-Earth
10. Andvari’s Curse
11. Gods Of War
12. Visdomsmjøden
Martin Rubini - vocals
Kirk Backarach - lead guitar
Phillip Kaaber - rhythm guitar
Lars Bundvad - bass
Daniel Kronskov - drums
Stefan Dujardin – keyboards
Record Label: Mighty Music


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