THE DEMO CORNER
The Netherland’s Heidevolk returns with its fourth full-length album of unique heathen/Viking folk metal for which they are very well respected (if not necessarily known). The name Heidevolk itself can be translated to English as “folk from the heathen land”. I first discovered them with the album Walhalla Wacht, and that discovery came via a band that some of the Heidevolk members played in by the name of Thronar; the latter band is quite different in style but no less enjoyable. Batavi is the follow up to 2010’s full length Uit Oude Grond, and how does Batavi compare to Uit Oude… or previous efforts you might ask? Well, let me do my best to describe it with the following review for those unfamiliar with this exceptional band.
I couldn’t help but be a little let down after Walhalla Wacht; it was simply an album that I find infallible and recognizably enjoyable; it is also one I consider an outstanding example of the genre as well as a pioneer of sorts. The follow-up in Uit Oude Grond seemed rather uninspiring, for lack of a better word. Heidevolk has always played a style of music that seems to fit right in the middle of folk and Viking Metal. It is sung in the Dutch language with both clean and harsh vocals, though clean vocals are the prevailing style throughout. It is with an extreme confidence in their development and mixing of styles that the band runs the proverbial gamut of light to heavy folk and metal. You’ll certainly hear a variety of genres and moods in their music, skillfully rendered in a manner that can be playful to aggressive or saddening to joyful. Sometimes I’m reminded of Sweden’s juggernaut Manegarm; if I had to pick a band that has been around longer with which to sonically and thematically compare them to it is this band.
With this latest release I think the band has really hit its stride and displays a veteran confidence that shines through in nearly every aspect. With Uit Oude Gron, Heidevolk showed a more-than-capable resilience to juggle all of these styles and elements of music to make a cohesive and challenging album. However, I think they lost too much of the energy and even some of their focus from what made them so spirited with earlier releases. With Batavi the band has maintained and even surpassed mixing these various styles so perfectly to make great music and fashion strong songs; maybe even more importantly is the energy kept from the earlier material that is furiously prevalent within.
Musically and production-wise it’s a really impressive piece of work; it houses some of the best finishing touches in the varying genres it straddles. I’m really noticing a big improvement in the blast elements as well; the drumming is some of the crispest, barreling percussion I’ve heard in some time. The writing is not overly complex, yet not overtly simple, and it shows intense motivation.
If you like folk Metal, there’s really no excuse not to have this album and proudly abuse your senses with it. If you don’t care for Folk Metal you’ve heard before or are even unfamiliar with the genre, I urge you to give this a release a try as long as you don’t mind vocals issued in a foreign language. It really is a superb example of a professional and well-crafted slab of metal to sink your teeth into for easy digestion. I’m still finding my way through it with each listen; it really has some legs to it and a depth that is rewarding to explore with each and every new listen.
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1. Een Nieuw Begin
2. De Toekomst Lonkt
3. Het Verbond met Rome
5. In het Woud Gezworen
7. Als de Dood Weer Naar Ons Lacht
8. Einde der Zege
Total playing time: 39:45
Release Date: March 2nd, 2012
Label: Napalm Records
Heidevolk - Batavi
April 23, 2012