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Varang Nord - Fire of the North

Varang Nord
Fire of the North
by Matt "Wolverine" Johnson at 15 July 2015, 10:44 PM

With a mighty hail to the Old Gods, the members of VARANG NORD wield their instruments in tribute and praise. Their debut album as a brand new band, "Fire of the North" was released on December 9, 2014 a special day; the anniversary of my birthday and this would have made a suitable gift for anyone who knows me. I am a lover of Viking (aka Melodic Death) and Folk Metal, and this album is six tracks of exactly those two things. Take the sound of riding a horse and put into guitar riffs and this is the style you get. Fans of AMON AMARTH, UNLEASHED, KORPIKLAANI, OBSCURITY, and accordions will likely get a kick out of this!

Due to the close proximity (globally speaking) of their native Latvia with the traditional breeding grounds of Folk Metal bands in Scandinavia and central Europe, it should come as no surprise to those who are familiar with the scene and geographical and cultural influences many of these bands have. But I digress…

From a critical point of view, the accordion riffs are simple yet festive and provide an element above the persistent guitar riffs. The long notes that are played almost let me feel the "breath" that the accordion is taking or exhaling. The overlay of the instrument seems a little gaudy at times, but does not detract from the heaviness and serious tones blasted through the speakers from the guitars and drums. I have to give credit though, and "As Men Poured Ale" is a lovely tune similar to much of KORPIKLAANI's body of work, though VARANG NORD do not employ a fiddle.

The guitars are wonderfully distorted and are played as though their intent was to punish. Though simple, the riffs are thorough and firm. I get a hint of HEIDEVOLK at times, which is great and tells me that this music is in the proper arena of Folk and even Pagan Metal. I can back that statement up even more by saying that the clean vocals when there are harmonies ring very reminiscent of the aforementioned band, such as their song "Winter Woede" in comparison with "Blood for Blood." In general, the vocals are nothing remarkable unfortunately, but are still very likable considering the context of the music. It is just so heavy!

And as a bonus, I did manage to get a word from Khurr, the bassist who added, "In terms of music, it's mainly AMON AMARTH, FINTROLL and TURISAS. The main guitar riffs are chiefly composed by Wolf, and he is a big fan of these three bands. As the songs start from composing the guitar most of the time, Alyona (accordionist) and I just add to these main riffs. As for the lyrics, usually I write them, and I'm all about SKYFORGER, and I'm aiming at 'paganish' and epic feel in them." How much more detailed and direct can you get except straight from the band? So thanks to him for that!

Finally, while probably the first five of the album can be classified as drinking songs, "Through a White Wasteland" is more of a dirge and quite a bit slower tempo than the others. It is a fitting end to their album and leaves me hopeful for much more to come in the future! So if it is in your blood and the fates have willed it to be your destiny, then I say lift your drinking horn high and fest as the gods intend to the tune of "Fire of the North"!

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Wild Hunt
2. As Men Poured Ale
3. Sacrifice for the old Gods
4. Blood for Blood
5. Fires of the North
6. Through a White Wasteland
Lineup:
Wolf - Guitar, Vocals
Khurr - Bass
Alyona - Accordion
Sokol - Guitar
Aig - Drums
Record Label: Metal Scrap Records
     


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