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Skálmöld: Börn Loka

I really like the idea of Viking metal, especially the way it draws on mythology and folk tales and retells them in a heavy metal setting. To me, there's something quite powerful about tying heavy metal to these old traditions, something that helps us retell these stories in a new, vibrant context. I also like the way that so many folk melodies seem to fit so well into extreme music. The only problem is that so many of the bands that fall within this broad category of Viking metal seem to sound roughly the same. As I write this, there are easily a half-dozen new releases waiting to be heard that are doing similar things both musically and lyrically. The question, then, becomes what ought we to listen for in these recordings? What are we being asked to measure their success with?

I wish I could answer these questions easily, but I can't. What I do know is that albums like Börn Loka are good, but only to a point. One of the things I really like about Viking metal is that many of their album covers are quite striking. In this case, the cover presumably tells us something about the siblings Hilmar and Brynhildur, the children of Loki that make up the dominant theme of the album. I like the way the cover image shows us the aftermath, I am assuming, of slaying a frightening beast. I would love to know more about these heroic tales and consider how well the songs here reflect the originals.

At times, I found the music repetitive, even slightly tedious. I realize that albums like this are trying to capture a whole world of new and rich ideas and that it must be very hard to tell these stories effectively through extreme music. Nevertheless, I feel like I've heard plenty of examples of strong riffs mixed with mellow passages mixed with traditional melodies. I can't help but wonder what's going to happen with this style of metal if most of it sounds so much alike. On a positive note, the guitar solos on this album are, at times, quite exciting. I recommend that fans of traditional metal check out the way the guitars take off, from time to time, on this album. "Gleipnir," for example, has a killer solo. Recommended for fans of Viking metal.

Track Listing:
1. Odinn
2. Sleipnir
3. Gleipnir
4. Fenrisulfur
5. Himinhrjodur
6. Midgardsormur
7. Narfi
8. Hel

Added: November 3rd 2012
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2102
Language: english

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