Move over Scandinavia, it's time for France to try its hand at folky pagan metal. Clearly Vindland are fans of Windir, because the windswept guitar parts on their latest outing, Hanter Savet, seem to be channeled directly from our fallen friend's wheelhouse. The band is no novice to the genre, however, having formed over a decade ago in 2005. They split in 2010, but are now back to bring you some killer atmospheric viking black metal.
"Orin kozh" and the even stronger "Treuzwelus" get the ball rolling on this wintertime war in a big way. Layers of neoclassical guitar hooks strike in harmonized waves. These melodies seem to carry an ancient weight and the spirits of warriors long since passed. Joined with the raucious black metal vocals and powerful drumming, the outcome is quite motivating. The group also takes a tip from groups like Moonsorrow in their additions of accordian and synthesizers to create an even deeper sound as on "Serr-noz."
At times I feel like some of these compositions could be a little more succinct, but for the most partVindland are capable of holding one's attention through the longer tracks by changing up speed and tone as well as engaging in well placed interludes and refrains. The latter often create some great moments where I just want to grab a spear and a horse wherever I might be at the time. My other personal favorite, "Skorneg du," has tremolo melodies fit for Immortal's At the Heart of Winter.
All in all, it seems that Vindland have all the right influences and know how to put them to work. It's not a sound or style that is the most original in the world, but it is one that still has plenty of appeal. Personally, I found this style to be an excellent segway into more traditional black metal. My hope is that albums like Hanter Savet serve not only to entertain, but also provide a bridge for newer listeners into the more extreme realms of metal. Whether that plays out or not, this band still has plenty to contribute and are one of the more emotive pagan metal bands I have heard to date.