|Review: Skyforger - Latvian Riflemen|
Label: Mascot Records
Year released: 2000
Genre: Folk Metal
Review online: June 26, 2005
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Ah, Skyforger. One of the most obscure bands on the planet from one of the most obscure countries, and yet they put 99% of all other metal bands to utter shame with their power, dynamic, and their complete dedication. Himinbjorg's "Europa" was very cool, but Skyforger was there first, blazing their own trail into the Folk/Black Metal wilderness. Their CDs are all but impossible to locate, at least in the US, so I owe Mouse a big Thank You for getting me these.
I was prepared for this to not be as amazing as the succeeding "Thunderforge", but it is every inch as classic as the album that came after. "Latvian Riflemen", a concept album about the Latvian soldiers who fought in the first World War, shines with Skyforger's trademark riff-wizardry, and it never disappoints. This band may have come from Black Metal, but they came the long way, around the twin monoliths marked "Venom" and "Bathory". Their sound is old-school, mid-paced, powerful, and uncompromising. This is a band that can break into chanting, or Latvian narration, and rather than be cliché or dull, you just go with it. Over all arches the obvious seriousness with which Skyforger take not only their heritage, but their metal as well. Musicians who care this much about what they are doing simply cannot help but be compelling.
If I had to pick favorites, I would have to say "Thunderforge" is still my favorite, but really choosing between Skyforger albums is all but impossible, as they are all just first-rate. "Latvian Riflemen" should not be missed by anyone who calls themselves a metal fan.
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