|Review: Svartsot - Mulmets Viser|
Label: Napalm Records
Year released: 2010
Genre: Folk Metal
Review online: March 17, 2010
Reviewed by: Adam Kohrman
Rated 3.27/5 (65.45%) (11 Votes)
I enjoy folk metal, or whatever it's properly called (Viking metal?). But there has been an unnecessary onslaught on folk bands proliferating through the annals of major metal labels lately. Plenty of them are Finntroll clones, and only a few of them have a bit more to offer than that. The Danish band Svartsot falls somewhere in between. A genre's derivativeness has always coincided with it reaching its popular acme, and this is no different. It's no surprise that folk metal has become one of metal's most popular genres, but it's now become stale and bordering on insignificant. It's a genre without legs, stuck within its own stagnation. This isn't because it's bad music, but because it's copying itself over and over. Svartsot is stuck in this muddled mess, playing a style that I've heard before, but doing so earnestly. Sadly though, it's so commonplace that their album Mulmets Viser does little to stand alone, despite its fun qualities.
Svartsot sound a lot like every other band, but do so with genuineness that other bands don't have. They sing in their native tongue like everyone else does, so their lyrics aren't what separate them (at least not to me). The vocals are no different than the undeniably Nordic barks employed by seemingly every "extreme" folk metal band. There's a strange twanginess to their guitar tone, not unlike genre forefathers Hollenthon. Once again, this music is outwardly and overtly danceable, like much of the genre is. Sometimes though, their melodies last for longer periods of time, especially the guitar lines. Subtle nuances like these that extend them away from the mediocre core of folk metal. If they're playing in this slightly odd, off-kilter way, then you know they're doing it because they feel artistically led to do so. That's admirable. They aren't just taking Korpiklaani songs and switching them around a bit; they're copying those songs and adding their own touch. It's slightly original, but not by much.
This isn't to say that there isn't anything to like on this album. There is. "Æthelred" is a fantastic, swooping opener. It might only be fun because it's at the beginning, and that the style exhausts itself by the end of the album, though. You can't help but imagine yourself drinking and jigging with a bunch of Scandinavians when listening to this album. That's always a fun thought. That's a limited quality though, and it doesn't come close to carrying the album.
Svartsot are fun, but it's a generic fun that gets boring. In a muddled field, they struggle to find breathing room. The swathe of other bands will be too much for them to overcome. They won't be the next Korpiklaani or Finntroll, but this genre has peaked, and we aren't going to see another premier folk metal band again. You can't blame Svartsot for being only slightly different.
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