Review: Skálmöld – Vögguvísur Yggdrasils

Skálmöld is a folk metal band from Iceland, which has been around since 2009. With three albums under their belt and their fourth one, Vögguvísur Yggdrasils, released in September last year, the six guys became one of the best-known metal acts of Iceland. Let’s listen to their latest release!

The band states on its Facebook page that it wants to honor their Viking ancestry. All lyrics revolve around the Norse mythology, which is also the case here: we take a tour around the nine realms, which are connected by the tree of life, Yggdrasil. And, just like the realms, no one song is alike another. First we go to Muspell, were we enter with an upbeat death/folk combo song, marked by the growls of singer Björgvin Sigurðsson and a more melodic part in the middle with choir elements, which then persist until the end of the song. Next stop is Niflheimur, were we enter with a Viking metal passage à la Amon Amarth. The song is rather slow paced and marked by clear vocals this time. The whole song is very melodic and nicely in contrast with the first track. Nidavellir is a clear folk metal song, which sounds alike e.g. Ensiferum. More humppa, more upbeat melodies and happy choirs in the background. Very rhythmic and guaranteed to let you bang your head to it! Midgardur starts off slow with some doom-like atmosphere, but then picks up speed and becomes more of a Folk song, but less humppa than Nidavellir. Utgardur is a mid-tempo track with less variation than the others, but is still great to listen to because of the rhythmic songwriting. Alfheimur is a very slow one which stays an instrumental for a big part of the song, marked by happy melodies. The city of the gods, Asgardur, is in contrast again more upbeat and folksy at the beginning, but also has pressing passages with speedy drumming in the middle and at the end. One of my favorites! Helheimur is influenced by black metal elements and a very speedy and pressing song. The album then ends in Vanaheimur, a very bombastic song with growls and high-pitched screams at the beginning, which then give way to a melodic instrumental middle part, before we close off with folksy chants. All in one song – so great!

In conclusion: the tour through the nine realms connected by Yggdrasil is a successful one. Each song stands out on its own, but they all still connect very well with each other. I can’t wait to hear what the guys will come up next, but meanwhile it’s a pure joy to listen to this very versatile record, so go ahead and do so as well! 10/10.

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