Ten Years #31: Turisas

Decade of last.fm scrobbling countdown:
31. Turisas (1,040 plays)
Top track (96 plays): In the Court of Jarisleif, from The Varangian Way (2007)
Featured track: Miklagard Overture, from The Varangian Way

The Varangian Way was one of the last albums I expected to matter when I grabbed the pre-release leak in 2007. Having owned Battle Metal (2004) since its release, I remembered Turisas as a run of the mill band with one really outstanding song–Sahti-Waari–and a bunch of generic try-too-hard epic numbers to their name. It took about one minute in 2007 to realize that this band had achieved one of the most impressive turn-arounds in the history of metal. A captivating concept album packed with outstanding vocals and folk instrumentation, a brilliant symphonic backdrop, and thoroughly convincing lyrics, The Varangian Way was my favorite album of 2007 and remains a top 10 all time contender for me today. Mathias Nygård and company crafted an inspiring musical journey from Viking Age Scandinavia through Russia to the seat of the Byzantine empire with all the gloss of a Hollywood blockbuster. From the symphonic prog suspense of “The Dnieper Rapids” to the drunken folk romp of “In the Court of Jarisleif” to the orchestral majesty of “Miklagard Overture”, Turisas employed a world of musical styles to uniquely capture every stage of the voyage. As a concept album, they delivered the full package to an extent that is perhaps only trumped by Blind Guardian’s Nightfall in Middle-Earth. This was no fluke, either. Their follow-up album, Stand Up and Fight (2011), might have lacked the fulfilling sense of completeness that only a concept album can deliver, but it by and large maintained the level of quality of its predecessor, ensuring that Battle Metal could be remembered as a freshman effort and not the more accurate representation of their matured sound. Their fourth studio album, Turisas2013, is set to release this Wednesday (August 21st). While its awkward title and cover art will require some substantiation, I have really high hopes.

I’ll leave you with the lyrics to “Miklagard Overture”. I especially love how Turisas cultivate the power of names to really drive this anthem home; they employ the fact that Constantinople is known in so many languages as a testament to its glory. I personally visited Istanbul last summer, and I can confidently say that it remains one of the most overwhelming cities on this earth, breathing 2000 years of history not in ruin but in vibrant life. Turisas manage to do it justice in a way few other artists could.

Long have I drifted without a course
A rudderless ship I have sailed
The Nile just keeps flowing without a source
Maybe all the seekers just failed

To Holmgard and beyond
In search of a bond
Far from home I’ve come
But the road has just begun

Breathing history
Veiled in mystery
The sublime
The greatest of our time

“Come with us to the south
Write your name on our roll”
I was told;

Sui generis
The saints and emperors
Of bygone centuries
The man-made birds in their trees
Out load their paean rings

In astonishing colours the East meets the West
The hill-banks arise in their green
In wonder I sit on my empty chest
As we glide down the strait in between

To Holmgard and beyond
In search of a bond
Distant church bells toll
For their god they chant and troll

Breathing history
Veiled in mystery
The sublime
The greatest of our time

The Norwegian of rank
In the court of The Prince
I was convinced

Ten gates to eternity
Seen all for centuries
Your inconquerable walls
Your temples and your halls
See all, hear all, know all

My sun rose in the North and now sets in the South
The Golden Horn lives up to its name
From tower to tower a chain guards its mouth
Unbreakable, they claim

To Holmgard and beyond
In search of a bond
Adventures lie ahead
Many knots lie unravelled on my thread

Breathing history
Veiled in mystery
The sublime
The greatest of our time

Queen of the cities
Your welcoming smile
Made all worthwhile
The sweat and the pain

Bathing in gold
Endless rooftops unfold
The sun sets for a while just to rise again

Great walls
Great halls
Greatest of all, Miklagard

necromoonyeti’s 10 Favorite Songs of 2011

I want to hop on the bandwagon. It would be a little silly for me to post my real top 10; for one thing, it would include four Krallice tracks. That aside, nearly everything I’d put on it I’ve either posted on this site as a Song of the Day or included in both my review of its album and my top albums post. So to make this a bit different from my past posts, I’m going to limit myself to one song per band, stick to stuff that I imagine might appeal to people who aren’t interested in extreme metal, and keep it on the catchy side. I’ll list a more honest top 10 at the end.

10. Powerwolf – Son of a Wolf (from Blood of the Saints)

As such, my tenth place selection is about as metal as it’s going to get. Powerwolf’s Blood of the Saints might be simple and repetitive, but it’s about the catchiest power/heavy metal album I’ve ever heard. It indulges the same guilty pleasure for me as Lordi and Twisted Sister–two bands that inexplicably pump me up despite being entirely tame. It also offers some amazing operatic vocals and Dracula keyboards, the cheesiness of which can be easily forgiven. Son of a Wolf might be one of the more generic tracks in a sense, but it’s the one most often stuck in my head.

9. Alestorm – Barrett’s Privateers (from Back Through Time)

The only thing I love more than traditional folk and sea chanties is folk punk and metal. When the latter covers the former, I’m in bliss. Alestorm are emerging as the sort of Dropkick Murphys of metal with all their covers lately, and I hope they keep it up. I loved Barrett’s Privateers before what you’re hearing ever happened, and the metal version delights me to no end.

8. The Decemberists – Rox in the Box (from The King is Dead)

The Decemberists really toned it down this year. Where The Hazards of Love could be described as an epic rock opera, The King is Dead sticks to simple, pleasant folk. But Colin Meloy thoroughly researches pretty much every subject he’s ever tackled, and The King is Dead pays ample homage to its predecessors. Rox in the Box incorporates Irish traditional song Raggle Taggle Gypsy with delightful success.

7. Nekrogoblikon – Goblin Box (from Stench)

With a keen eye towards contemporary folk metal like Alestorm and Finntroll, melodic death classics like In Flames and Children of Bodom, and much else besides, former gimmick band Nekrogoblikon really forged their own unique sound in the world of folk metal in 2011. At least half of the album is this good. Stench is the most unexpected surprise the year had to offer by far.

6. Korpiklaani – Surma (from Ukon Wacka)

Korpiklaani almost always end their albums with something special, and 2011 is no exception. The melody of Surma is beautiful, and Jonne Järvelä’s metal take on traditional Finnish vocals is as entertaining as ever.

5. Turisas – Hunting Pirates (from Stand Up and Fight)

I couldn’t find a youtube video that effectively captured the full scope of Turisas’s sound in such limited bitrates, but believe me, it’s huge. Go buy the album and find out for yourselves. Unlike Varangian Way, not every track is this good, but on a select number Turisas appear in their finest form. Adventurous, exciting, epic beyond compare, this band delivers with all of the high definition special effects of a Hollywood blockbuster.

4. The Flight of Sleipnir – Transcendence (from Essence of Nine)

Essence of Nine kicks off with a kaleidoscope of everything that makes stoner metal great, while reaching beyond the genre to incorporate folk and Akerfeldt-esque vocals. A beautifully constructed song, it crushes you even as it floats through the sky. I could imagine Tony Iommi himself rocking out to this one.

3. Boris – Black Original (from New Album)

From crust punk to black metal, there’s nothing Boris don’t do well, and 2011 has shown more than ever that there’s no style they’ll hesitate from dominating. I don’t know what’s been going on in the past few years with this popular rise of 80s sounds and weird electronics. I don’t listen to it, so I can’t relate. But if I expected it sounded anything nearly as good as what Boris pulled off this year I’d be all over it.

2. Tom Waits – Chicago (from Bad as Me)

Bad as Me kicks off with one of my favorite Tom Waits songs to date. It’s a timeless theme for him, but it feels more appropriate now than ever, and his dirty blues perfectly capture the sort of fear and excitement of packing up and seeking out a better life.

1. Dropkick Murphys – Take ‘Em Down (from Going Out in Style)

In a year just begging for good protest songs, Flogging Molly tried really hard and fell flat. Dropkick Murphys, another band you’d expect to join the cause, released perhaps their most generic album to date (still good mind you, but not a real chart topper). Take ‘Em Down is kind of out of place on the album, but it’s DKM to the core, and as best I can gather it’s an original song, not a cover of a traditional track. If so, it’s probably the most appropriate thing written all year. (The video is fan made.)

If you’re interested in my actual top 10, it runs something like this:

10. Falkenbach – Where His Ravens Fly…
9. Waldgeflüster – Kapitel I: Seenland
8. Liturgy – High Gold
7. Endstille – Endstille (Völkerschlächter)
6. Blut aus Nord – Epitome I
5. Krallice – Intro/Inhume
4. Liturgy – Harmonia
3. Krallice – Diotima
2. Krallice – Telluric Rings
1. Krallice – Dust and Light

And that excludes so many dozens of amazing songs that it seems almost pointless to post it.

My Top 15 Metal Albums of 2011

The years I most actively indulge my musical interests are the ones I find most difficult to wrap up in any sort of nice cohesive summary. December always begins with a feeling that I’ve really built up a solid basis on which to rate the best albums of the year, and it tends to end with the realization that I’ve really only heard a minute fraction of what’s out there. I’m going to limit this to my top 15. Anything beyond that is just too arbitrary–the long list of new albums I’ve still yet to hear will ultimately reconfigure it beyond recognition.

15. Thantifaxath – Thantifaxath EP
Thantifaxath’s debut EP might only be 15 minutes long, but that was more than enough to place it high on my charts. The whole emerging post/prog-bm sound has been largely a product of bands with the resources to refine it, and it’s quite refreshing to hear sounds reminiscent of recent Enslaved without any of the studio gloss. That, and I get a sort of B-side outer space horror vibe from it that’s not so easy to come by. (Recommended track: Violently Expanding Nothing)

14. Craft – Void
This is the straight-up, no bullshit black metal album of the year. It doesn’t try anything fancy or original. It’s just good solid mid-tempo bm–brutal, evil, conjuring, and unforgiving. Hail Satan etc. (Recommended track: any of them)

13. Turisas – Stand Up and Fight
Stand Up and Fight doesn’t hold a candle to The Varangian Way, but I never really expected it to. As a follow-up to one of my all-time favorite albums, it does a solid job of maintaining that immensely epic, triumphal sound they landed on in 2007. It lacks their previous work’s continuity, both in quality and in theme, but it’s still packed with astoundingly vivid imagery and exciting theatrics that render it almost more of a movie than an album. (Recommended tracks: Venetoi! Prasinoi!, Hunting Pirates)

12. Endstille – Infektion 1813
Swedish-style black metal seldom does much for me, and it’s hard to describe just what appeals to me so much about Germany’s Endstille. But just as Verführer caught me by pleasant surprise two years ago, Infektion 1813 managed to captivate me in spite of all expectations to the contrary. Like Marduk (the only other band of the sort that occasionally impresses me), they stick to themes of modern warfare, but Endstille’s musical artillery bombardments carry a sense of something sinister that Marduk lacks. The dark side of human nature Endstille explores isn’t shrouded in enticing mystery–it’s something so thoroughly historically validated that we’d rather just pretend it doesn’t exist at all. The final track, Völkerschlächter, is one of the best songs of the year. Stylistically subdued, it pummels the listener instead with a long list of political and military leaders responsible for mass murder, named in a thick German accent over a seven second riff that’s repeated for 11 minutes. It’s a brutal realization that the sensations black metal tends to arouse are quite real and quite deplorable, and it will leave you feeling a little sick inside.

11. Nekrogoblikon – Stench
Nekrogoblikon released a folk metal parody album in 2006 that was good for laughs and really nothing else. The music was pretty awful, but that was intentional. It was a joke, with no presumption to be any good as anything but a joke. They’re the last band on earth I ever expected, a full six years after the fact, to pop back up with a really fucking solid sound. But Stench is good. I mean, Stench is really good. It’s still comical in theme, but the music has been refined beyond measure. Quirky, cheesy guitar and keyboard doodles have become vivid images of little flesh-eating gremlins dancing around your feet, whiny mock-vocals have taken the shape of pretty solid Elvenking-esque power metal, pretty much everything about them has grown into a legitimate melo-death and power infused folk metal sound. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still not meant to be taken seriously, but they’re now of Finntroll caliber. (Recommended tracks: Goblin Box, Gallows & Graves, A Feast)

10. Týr – The Lay of Thrym
I thought By the Light of the Northern Star was a fairly weak album, and because The Lay of Thrym maintains some of the stylistic changes they underwent then, a part of me keeps wanting to say it can’t be as good as say, Land or Eric the Red. But of all the albums I acquired in 2011, I’ve probably listened to this one the most. Týr have one of the most unique sounds on the market, and it’s thoroughly incapable of ever boring me or growing old. Heri Joensen’s consistently excellent vocal performance alone is enough to make them perpetual year-end contenders. (Recommended track: Hall of Freedom)

9. Waldgeflüster – Femundsmarka – Eine Reise in drei Kapiteln
This is some of the most endearing black metal I’ve heard in a while. Intended as a musical reminiscence of Winterherz’ journey through Femundsmarka National Park in Scandinavia, it’s a beautiful glorification of nature that takes some of the best accomplishments of Drudkh and Agalloch and adds to them a very uplifting vibe. Someone made an 8 minute compilation of the album on youtube which does a good job at previewing without revealing all of its finest moments. (Recommended track: Kapitel I: Seenland)

8. Ygg – Ygg
Ygg is an hour-long trance, evoking ancient gods in a way that only Slavic metal can. You could probably pick apart the music and discover plenty of flaws, but that would miss the point. I think that a lot of these Ukrainian and Russian bands are true believers, and that the purpose of music like this is more to create an experience in the listener than to be good for its own sake. This is a spiritual journey, and if it fails to move you as such it will probably come off as rather repetitive and generic, but I find it impressively effective. (Recommended track: Ygg)

7. Blut aus Nord – 777: Sect(s)
I don’t know where to put this really. I could just as easily have labeled it second best album of the year. Dropping it down to 7th might seem a little unjustified, but eh, this is a list of my top albums, not of the “best” albums of the year. There’s no denying Sect(s) credit as a brilliant masterpiece, but it’s an ode to madness. I mean, this music scares the shit out of me, and if that means it’s accomplished something no other album has, that also means I don’t particularly “enjoy” listening to it. (Recommended track: Epitome I)

6. Altar of Plagues – Mammal
I never did listen to Mammal as actively as I would have liked. I never sat down and gave it my undivided attention from start to finish. But it’s served as a background piece for many late nights at work. It zones me in–stimulates my senses without ever distracting them from the task at hand. I don’t feel like I can really say much about what makes it great, because that’s not the sort of thing I’ve considered while listening to it, but I absolutely love it. It’s a big improvement from White Tomb, which was itself an excellent album, and more so than most other releases of 2011 I will probably continue to listen to it frequently in years to come. (Recommended track: Neptune is Dead)

5. Primordial – Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand (track: No Grave Deep Enough)
Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand is by no means perfect. It’s got a few sub-par tracks detracting from the full start to finish experience, but when it’s at its best all else can be easily forgiven. Call it folk metal or call it black metal, whichever you prefer, but first and foremost call it Irish, with every good thing that might entail. The vocals are outstanding, the music rocks out in folk fashion without ever relenting from its metal force, and while the lyrics don’t always make sense, they always hit like a fucking truck. Where they do all come together, delivered with Nemtheanga’s vast and desperate bellows, the result is overwhelming. O Death, where are your teeth that gnaw on the bones of fabled men? O Death, where are your claws that haul me from the grave? (Other recommended tracks: The Puritan’s Hand, Death of the Gods)

4. Falconer – Armod (track: Griftefrid)
Prior to 2011 I’d largely written Falconer off as one of those power metal acts that were just a little too cheesy to ever excite me. Maybe it was bad timing. Maybe I just happened to hear them for the first time while Kristoffer Göbel was filling in on vocals. Or maybe Armod is just their magnum opus–a spark of genius they’ve never neared before. Flawless if we ignore the “bonus tracks”, Armod takes that early folk metal sound Vintersorg pioneered with Otyg, merges it perfectly with power metal, and offers up 11 of the most well-written and excellently produced songs of the year. Mathias Blad’s vocals are absolutely phenomenal. (Other recommended tracks: Herr Peder Och Hans Syster)

3. Falkenbach – Tiurida (track: Sunnavend)
A lot of people might voice the legitimate complaint that Tiurida, Vratyas Vakyas’s first studio album in six years, sounds absolutely indistinguishable from his prior four. For me, that’s exactly why it ranks so high. Vakyas landed on a completely unique, instantly recognizable sound which, alongside Bathory, defined viking metal as a genre, and he’s refused to change it one bit. I fell in love with this album ten years ago. (Other recommended tracks: Where His Ravens Fly…)

2. Liturgy – Aesthethica (track: Harmonia)
Yes, Liturgy. It’s immature, childish, and imperfect, but it’s uplifting in a completely new way. No matter how far Hunt-Hendrix might go to embarrass himself and his band mates, behind all of his pompous babble there just might be some truth to it. (Other recommended tracks: True Will)

1. Krallice – Diotima (track: Dust and Light)
More than the album of the year, Diotima is one of the greatest albums ever made. I can’t fathom the amount of skill it must take to perform with the speed and precision that these guys do, but if they battered down a physical barrier to metal in 2008, they finally grasped hold of what lies beyond it in 2011. They claim that the songs on their first three albums were all written at the same time by Mick Barr and Colin Marston, before their self-titled debut. If that’s the case, then it must be the experience of performing together and the creative contributions of Lev Weinstein and Nick McMaster that raised Diotima to a higher level. It’s not just that they’ve improved in every way imaginable; the songs themselves are overwhelming, breathtaking, and chaotic to a degree they’d never before accomplished. Krallice perform an unwieldy monster that took a few albums to thoroughly overcome. Now they’re in complete control, and their absolutely brilliant song-writing can shine through. With the exception of the dubious Litany of Regrets, this is possibly the greatest album I have ever heard. (Other recommended tracks: Inhume, Diotima, Telluric Rings)

Review: Turisas – Stand Up and Fight

Turisas’s last release, The Varangian Way, got my vote for album of the year in 2007. It was a concept album, as so many monumental releases have been, telling the story of a band of viking soldiers of fortune traveling through Kievan Rus, intent on joining Byzantium’s Varangian Guard. Through sweeping symphonics, gritty folk, and a small but significant dose of progressive rock, the travelers encounter new lands, pass through Veliky Novgorod, party hard in king Yaroslav’s court, long for home while daring Dnieper rapids, and eventually arrive at the most majestic city in the world. (The back cover of the album is a map of Russia with each track title placed in its relevant location.) The lyrics might be shallow at times, and the English of questionable quality, but Turisas harness the power of names in a way I’ve never encountered before. When the central character raises “a toast to our generous host . . . ruler of Rus from coast to coast”, it’s the chanting of the Norse rendering of his name–Jarisleif! Jarisleif!–that really drills home the ruler’s greatness. The final, triumphal ending never mentions “Constantinople”. Nygård shouts “Tsargrad!” The chorus responds with “Konstantinopolis!” “The Golden Horn lives up to its name.” And the final resounding proclamation: “Great walls! Great halls! Greatest of all, Miklagard!”

I think it is the historic allusions, and the intensity with which they are employed, that really tip the scales from mere greatness to a masterpiece. If you have any fascination with history, you can’t help but be sucked in.

Stand Up and Fight is not nearly so consistant. At face value it certainly appears to be a continuation of the concept album. Hagia Sophia graces the cover. The opening track is called “The March of the Varangian Guard”, and the final track “The Bosphorus Freezes Over”. After a few listens, I caught on that, these three references aside, the album really has nothing to do with The Varangian Way. If you dig into the lyrics though, there are a few other Easter eggs.

The track most musically reminiscent of The Varangian Way is Venetoi! Prasinoi!

(Due to some bs copywrite issue you’ll have to click the link to hear this one.)

It’s a song about a chariot race, something I tend to associate with earlier Roman culture. If you plug “Venetoi” into wikipedia though, it redirects you specifically to the “Byzantine era” subsection of chariot racing. The use of lesser known names though isn’t at all emphasized like it is in The Varangian Way. The allusions are more subtle, meant I think to give a feeling of continuity without forcing the band to focus exclusively on one general topic. Track title aside, this song could take place in Rome proper.

Of course, The Varangian Way’s lyrics were dubious at times–(What the hell does the Nile river have to do with traveling through Rus to Constantinople?)–and their English was, if usually grammatically sound, not always quite on the mark. In the absence of allusions and grand proclamations, this is much more apparent on Stand Up and Fight. Consider Fear the Fear.

It opens with the lines “Bravery, as we’ve seen on TV: Explosions and swords, hot girls in reward.” How awkward is that? The song continues on with more words than most, and I’m pretty sure they’re attempting to convey some sort of message, but I don’t have a clue what it is. Yet the awkwardness isn’t always a bad thing. Skip to the last minute, and you’ll hear Nygård screaming “Die! Die you sucker! Let me go! Let me free motherfucker!” The way he does it, it’s just as cool as it is corny. It reminds me of Devin Townsend and Mikael Akerfeldt’s epic duet at the end of Ayreon’s “Loser”. … Well, that’s really a stretch, but that song is fucking awesome in ways I can barely comprehend, and I’ll take any excuse to link it:


Corny lyrics also play a hand in my favorite song on the album, Hunting Pirates.

(Due to some bs copywrite issue you’ll have to click the link to hear this one.)

Ok, first of all, it’s called Hunting Pirates. What the hell? The stuff Nygård babbles is ridiculous. “Kill them all! Let them die! Scum they are! Foe of mankind!” The music though, and his vocal style, are so fun that the cheese is almost a good thing. Besides, when he shouts “It is you who are the bad guys!” he’s not necessarily out to save the world. Plenty of folk metal bands are equally ridiculous, Turisas just take the less popular side. If if was a song about being a pirate, I’d laugh at the lines and not think twice about them.

My verdict on Stand Up and Fight: It’s catchy. It’s corny. It’s not The Varangian Way, but it’s miles beyond Battle Metal. Bare with the lyrics; they definitely overextend themselves in contemplation a few times, but for the most part it might only be their cultivation of a “good guy” persona that makes them appear any worse for wear than Alestorm’s demands for “more wenches and mead.” I mean, when I saw them live Nygård was chugging a bottle of vodka throughout the set.

Oh, while I was looking around youtube for functional links (without much success) I did find this:

Beer Metal

Anyone who’s gone out after a Dropkick Murphys concert knows that barroom singalongs are not a thing merely of the past. But metal fans might not be so inclined, drifting off rather to less accessible places than the pub: enchanted meadows, the depths of hell, their parents’ basement, etc. Me, I would go to Finland. It was not until Ensiferum exploded into the world in 2001 that I realized quite how compatible beer and metal could be. I distinctly recall making pretty much everyone I knew at the time listen to “Goblins’ Dance”:

Ensiferum were not the first Finns to cross the Baltic at three hundred and twenty kilobits per second, but Finntroll, who released their debut in 1999, Midnattens Widunder, were just too bizarre at first to be more than a novelty. The band sang in Swedish (because it sounds more evil than Finnish, so they say) and merged some pretty dark metal with a Finnish folk style known as Humppa. On Visor Om Slutet they went acoustic and introduced kazoo solos. On Nattfödd and the Trollhammaren they incorporated something I can only properly describe as “pirate metal”, and on Ur jordens djup they went Caribbean. There newest album, Nifelvind, came out this February, and your guess is as good as mine. Raise a pint and bang your head, there’s really no other way to react to this. Here’s my favorite track off of it, “Under bergets rot”:

Korpiklaani really perfected this weird Finnish folk metal genre though. They appeared in 2003 out of the ashes of another folk metal band, Shaman, which I’ve not heard, and managed to release six albums in seven years. Korpiklaani are probably the most tame band on this list, a feat they accomplish not by turning down the distortion so much as by really infusing the folk and harnessing a talent to write an endless number of catchy, fairly optimistic songs. It wouldn’t matter which album I take the sample from; they all sound the same, and believe me, a decade from now I hope I can still say that. Enjoy “Kohmelo”, off of their 2009 album, Karkelo. The bitrate on this video is horrible, but you’ll get the idea:

After releasing a string of demos in the late 90s, Turisas put out their first full length in 2004. What can I say? It wasn’t very good. Despite offering drinking songs like “One More” (during which the frontman consumes an obscene amount of vodka live), they really seemed to miss the wave. But oh how the beer gods shined upon them in 2007. The Varangian Way was easily my favorite album of the year. It combines an odd mix of folk and prog (that word bears a horrible connotation in my mind, but Turisas do it right) with a ten track concept album telling the journey of Finnish viking mercenaries to Constantinople. I can’t call the whole album ‘beer metal’, though it’s a masterpiece, but the party atmosphere is a lot more apparent live. I present you with “In the Court of Jarisleif”, in which these viking travelers reach Kiev and well, get really wasted:

I could go on to tell of how Lordi won the 2006 Eurovision competition, an interesting testament to the odd ability of Finnish bands to be heavy, ridiculous, and yet still oddly appealing to the masses, but this topic does not require I stick to one country necessarily. I think I will conclude this chronology of heavy metal drinking music then with a short sail over to Scotland. Alestorm did not form until 2004, and released their first album in 2008. Upon doing so, pirate metal was no longer just a quirky side of Finntroll. (Interestingly, Trollhammaren and Nattfödd were released the same year Alestorm formed. A coincidence? I don’t know. The two bands have toured together.) I never liked rum personally, but I’ll take a shot for these guys. Enjoy “Keelhauled”, off of 2009’s Black Sails at Midnight. Yes, someone just said “yo-ho-ho” in a song and you didn’t roll your eyes:

And there our short journey ends. Folk metal emerged in the 90s, and due credit should be given to the likes of Skyclad and Cruachan, but the 21st century, and specifically Finland, marked its explosion from a small niche genre into one comparable in scale to big guns like death, black, and power metal. More to the point of this post though, always remember that folk is a celebration of the past, and that our forefathers were all alcoholics.

Thankfully, Finntroll, Korpiklaani, and the like incorporated humppa into metal and not the reverse. I leave you with a terrifying alternative: