The Pitch: Melodic death, black, and folk metal from Swedish band Havamal. FFO: Ensiferum, Equilibrium, Moonsorrow
What I Like: I'm super impressed with the production on this album. For a small release that seemingly came out of nowhere, it was clear as early as the epic synth intro that Havamal have the potential to rival any of the classic names above. They play as a tight unit, the songwriting is solid, and again the work on the keyboards is fantastic. Furthermore, the band seems to travel around the board when it comes to their approach to folk metal. At times the music comes in a raging fury a la Ensiferum, others slow-burning Moonsorrow-esque progressions, and still others a bloodthirsty march of early Amon Amarth. There are even a few moments on Call of the North that reminded me of straight symphonic black metal. Add a few higher pitched screeches and "Ragnarök" could have been pulled from a Cradle of Filth record.
Critiques: If we're talking about going for the killing blow and taking the crown in this genre, I do have a few modest suggestions as a listener. For one, the vocals are are already pretty damn strong, but there's room from some finesse. I'm not talking about adding cleans; just a little more variation in the screaming register as well as further focus on vocals in recording and mastering could go a long way. Same goes for the guitar. The leads sound excellent, but some of the other riffs could use a little more polish.
The Verdict: Call of the North is a stellar effort from a group of very talented dudes you should be watching out for. If you yearn for new blood to carry the torch for this particular subgenre, you need to open not only your ears...but also your wallet. Money talks, bulls#!t keeps bands in their stepdad's garage. Listen to "Call for Revenge" and tell me this isn't worth less than $6. You can also get the physical CD for just a few dollars more.
Flight's Fav's: Dread Age, Force of Judgement, Call for Revenge
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