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Review: Skàlmöld - Baldur

Label: Napalm Records
Year released: 2011
Originally released in: 2010
Duration: 50:54
Tracks: 10
Genre: Viking Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: August 22, 2011
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers Rating

Rated 4.55/5 (90.91%) (11 Votes)

Iceland's Skálmöld play Heavy Metal-based Viking Metal (as opposed to the Black/Pagan Metal variety) on their debut, Baldur. According to the band, the songs tell a tale of the Viking Baldur, who loses his family and his land to an otherworldly demon. He swears revenge and treks across Iceland to exact retribution. It doesn't get any more epic than that, and I don't even speak Icelandic. The vocals of singer Björgvin Sigurðsson are a rough, growly bark and give the music a raw and aggressive feel. Musically, Skálmöld are similar to Tyr, but with none of the polished, catchy choruses of The Lay of Thrym. An even more epic and authentic Rebellion is perhaps a decent reference point.

Since the album is sung in the band's native tongue, it is hard for non-Icelandic speakers to sing along and as a result the songs are somewhat less memorable when the album is over. What cannot be denied is the excellent guitar work of Sigurðsson, Baldur Ragnarsson, and Þráinn Árni Baldvinsson. Their riffs provide the driving force of the album and the solos are amazing. The leads on songs like "Kvaðning" and 10-minute closer, "Baldur" would have Murray, Smith and Gers nodding their heads in approval. The band employs keyboards, wind instruments and sound effects to augment the story and, once in a while, these get in the way somewhat, but those instances are thankfully few and far between.

If you like your Viking Metal kick-ass and epic look no further than Baldur. It is quite the impressive debut from a young band that could be one of the leaders in the genre.

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