What the hell is in the water of Iceland? Do they have a pact with the old gods saying no band can release a bad album? It’s starting to become a bit scary you know. Anyway SKALMOLD come from Reykjavík, home city of CARPE NOCTEM, SOLSTAFIR, SVARTIDAUDI and many more top notch metal acts.

If you think that by defining them as Viking/folk metal it means “Med Vaetum” is 50 minutes of violin, flute and other peculiar organs-infused folk metal, you’re wrong. Welcome to an all-you-can-digest guitar buffet. Three guitars do their best to create a towering wave of the cold Nordic sea, threatening to swallow the ship of your thoughts in its might and its occasional beauty weirdly, like in that lovely melodic metal intro of “Að vetri”.

However the high spirits of the aforementioned song though, you will find razor sharp, almost black metal reminiscent riffs –like the 1 minute mark of “Með fuglum “- giving the main definition of SKALMOLD’s approach in this album.

I mean look at the art cover, what else could it be? This is not the festive, beer drinking around a fire kind of Viking metal (which we love of course) but the “let’s bring some iron terror to neighboring areas” kind of Viking metal. Not a descendant of epic era BATHORY, yet a more bits-and-pieces-of-ENSLAVED meet roided-up-MANEGARM and some DOOMSWORD brew.

The hoarse vocals hand out pain and sound like a constant battle cry (especially when combined with Baldur Ragnarsson’s grindcore-like shrills) providing an immersion that is abruptly cut when the astonishing, 80’s golden thrash years solos of Arni Baldvinsson sweep in and remind you that no, we are not dealing with raiding barbarians here, but some quite skilled and promising musicians.

The guitar solos specifically (although not many) made me appreciate this band much more because in my early metal discovering days, a mind blowing solo was enough to change my world and make me love a whole genre (for example I will never forget the first time I experienced these 15 magical seconds in “Imaginations From The Other Side”) and I find it very promising when bands pay attention to guitar solos rather than throw in some notes we’ve definitely heard before just to fill some time.

Despite my efforts to describe the essence of “Med Vaetum” though, it is an album with a very clear storyline, basically a concept album. As it is beautifully summed up in one of their interviews “Með Vættum tells of a woman, born on the north coast of Iceland. During her life, she travels around the island from north, to east, to south, to west. As she does so, she grows older and dies. On each coast she must fight a battle against enemies coming in from sea. She acts as a guardian to the island. In each battle she is aided by a wight, of which there are four traditional versions in Icelandic mythology: bird from the north, dragon from the east, giant from the south, and a bull from the west.”.

So, everything you need is here. Music that combines numerous metal genres influences around a basic pylon and manages to handle them well (or more than well, depending on your taste), kickass cover art with storms and mythical beasts to get lost into and a bittersweet, meaningful concept. Well, unless you speak Icelandic you can’t understand that latest asset but you know, sometimes we just have to…Wait, why are you still reading my jibber-jabber? Dig in “Med Vaetum” !

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