If there’s something I love it’s Scandinavian metal, especially when it’s a bunch of long haired and/or bearded dudes singing about Vikings and “battley” things. I therefore couldn’t be happier that Sweden’s Månegarm have just released their seventh album, Legions of the North.
Legions of the North is again another departure from the original Månegarm sound, but this is no bad thing, if someone wants to hear Nordstjärnans Tidsålder again, they can listen to Nordstjärnans Tidsålder. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a world away from their old work, but as a listener knows, each album has produced something a little different from that original folk tinged black metal record and Legions of the North is the next step in their progression.
Legions of the North’s title in itself should hint towards one of these changes; while previous albums have been sang in their native tongue, here we get some English lyrics. Whether this was done to appeal to a broader audience or not I don’t know but it works. A bit of me misses that the harshness another language gave the lyrics (I speak as an English speaker, if you come from Sweden you can disregard this section!) but I also enjoy having something to singalong with now.
That last sentence should give you another hint. I don’t want to say the songs are more catchy now, the title track itself features an ear fuckingly brutal black metal scream and the black metal background is still prevalent throughout. On the other hand, we have songs like Sons of War (uploaded here by Napalm Records) that features a big chorus about unity that will go down a treat live.
The production is another highlight from this album, you sometimes find bands still aiming for that lo-fi black metal sound, but Månegarm have thankfully passed on that that. Each track, whether it be a short violin piece like Helvegr or a black metal storm like Forged in Fire, sounds huge and thick. Nothing gets drowned out, no solos are lost in the mix, the vocals are clear, it’s what you want from a mix.
To be honest, I was slightly doubtful going into this just because the band have been going for 18 years and have just now switched to English. My concerns over a big change leading to something strange were unmet, instead the changes have almost breathed new life into them (not that the previous albums had any issues of course!).
I give this release 4 out of 5, or using our new beard based review system….