Heidevolk are one of the most sympathetic bands in the metal scene. Even if someone is not very much into the folk metal genre, he would definitely like them, if he will listen their albums. They play excellent heavy music, combined with violin (one of the folklore elements in their music) and the two vocalists produce such an epic stuff that wins immediately the listener. “Batavi” is their fourth album and sounds more or less like the previous works. As all their previous albums, this one too has completely Dutch lyrics.
“Batavi” is a concept album, which deals with the relations between the Batavians (a tribe which lived in the area that is currently the Netherlands) and the Romans. From the first songs ’til the end, the album narrates the humiliating alliance with Rome and the military obligations, the historical Revolt of The Batavi, as a sequence of the repressive measures, in 69-70 A.D and finally the retaliation of Rome.
It seems that, Heidevolk have a different music approach in the new album. In many tracks the folk instruments are missing and they produce something like epic heavy metal. Well, it didn’t disappoint me at all, it’s still a capable and well played album. “Een Nieuw Begin” starts very furiously and oscillates very much with melodies. The usual vocals as we loved them, remind a little of Bathory’s epic metal albums, so it has some extra positive points. The guitar compositions have a lot of tremolo picking and together with the drums, reveal a thrashy attitude which dominates the whole album. “De Toekomst Lonkt” is moving in the same heavy ways, but the guitar melodies make it a very catchy album. One of the most solid songs in “Batavi” is “Het Verbond met Rome”. It’s close to the “Walhalla Wacht” era without the folklore adds, the two vocalists are combining perfectly and the result is an epic and addicted song, even if musically is approximately the same. And then, the familiar Heidevolk are back. “Wapenbroeder”, the war brothers, come to shock our ears. Violin comes after the epic deep vocals of Mark “Splintervuyscht”, who continues to sing war elegies with Joris’ voice in the background. Although a mid-tempo song, it shows a warlike and ecstatic feeling. Palm muting, pickings, melodies and solo helps too.
Generally, “Batavi” is more rough than “Walhalla Wacht” or “Uit Oude Grond” and Heidevolk make a successful turn to Bathory’s music. Besides, the gelderlandians never belonged in the party category folk metal bands. “In het Woud Gezworen” is an extremely heavy and thrashy track and there is a thin line between riffs and melodies. For Mark’s vocals I wont’ say anything, they’re already amazing on their own. After an acoustic instrumental song full of sad attitude, “Als de Dood Weer Naar Ons Lacht” follows. It’s another raw track with the same music structure, so I think there’s no need to analyze it. I’ll stay only in the great duet of the two singers, who growl and sing ingeniously perfect. One of the greatest songs in “Batavi” for sure! Folk instruments return in “Einde Der Zeg”. A stunning song in which the vocals are along with the violin, and there is an amazing tremolo picking riff with very good drumming. Last song, “Vrijgevochten” is also a track that approaching the Bathory style and the riffs are flirting with melodies accompanied with beautiful vocals and growls.
The new album, may be not a usual Heidevolk release, but it proves that whatever they’ll play, it would be always successful. “Batavi” is a pure pagan metal album, with less participation of folk elements. It has all this epic/heavy metal package, that will make more metalheads to listen to it, despite that they don’t listen folk metal. It’s a worth buying album with very clear production and mixing. But first of all, it’s a hymn to the brave tribe of the Batavi, who had the courage to stand against the roman giant.