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Skyforger - Thuderforge

Author admin
Thu 29 Sep 11
/ 5
N/A

"Thunderforge", the third full-length album by Latvian pagan metal band Skyforger, is a strong follow-up to its not less strong predecessors. But this time the pagan warriors from Skyforger have decided to step a bit away from the already accustomed war theme by making an album more dedicated to ancient Latvian mythology and pagan beliefs thus leaving the some of the harshness aside.

All of the previous works were theme albums, the demo and first full-length “Kauja pie Saules” concentrating on the struggle of ancient Baltic tribes, especially Semigalls, against the christian invaders in 13th century, and "Latviesu Strelnieki (Latvian Riflemen)" telling about the valorous Latvian soldiers in World War I. "Thunderforge" is again a theme album, being close to a concept album, because all of the songs are arranged in a row, following the succession of seasons.

After a short sung intro it starts off with "When Usins Rides" (to avoid confusion, I’ll use the english track names here), which embodies the arrival of spring and nature’s awakening. The song itself comes from that time when the band, which later became Skyforger, was then called Grindmaster Dead and was playing doom metal. You can tell this already by the very beginning of the song, which features a simple yet unbelievably heavy guitar riff that brutally forces to bang your head and continues throughout the whole song, alternating with some other riffs of the same type. To bring in some fresh spring feeling, flute and kokle (an ancient Latvian instrument, similar to Finnish kantele) are used to reach the culmination of the song during the breakdown right after the middle of the song.

Logically following the cycle, then comes "The Shortest Night of the Year" – a song about summer solstice, during which the Son of God pays his annual visit to people. This song is one of the standouts of the album, featuring fancy riffing, cool folkish melodies and arrangements, all bound together in an astonishingly delicious way. Folk metal at its finest!

"Warlord of the Night Sky" departs for a while from the seasonal theme, focusing on Moon – the War God in latvian mythology. This song reminds of the previous, more black metal oriented, works of Skyforger, with tremolo picked riffing and from thrash metal style derivative drumming. However, it is a bit more more melodic and less raw, also the vocals have sort of a melody line, which was not prevalent in the early works of Skyforger. Theres also a Skyforger trademark kokle solo in the middle of song as well as in the ending. All in all it’s a fusion between the band’s previos musical style and the newer tendencies, and a well done one.

Then comes "The Long Dance", an instrumental song which is an arrangement of ancient folk tune, usually played in festivities, especially wedding. In the original form it is a solemn dance, therefore for someone, who has not heard/seen it performed as such, this cover version (well, sort of) might get boring quickly. Otherwise it sounds quite interesting and provides a little break from all the metal stuff (despite having guitars and all the other stuff except vocals).

As next the title song "Thunderforge" awaits us. Another piece of fine folk metal with some of the crushing heavy riffing, some interesting guitar melodies and clean sung chorus and, of course, some folk instruments, flute this time. The song seems to be based on tales and mythological beliefs, telling a story about coming across a spectacular forge, where the Sky Forger, also known as Pçrkons (Thunder) forges the Sun.

The next one is "Oh Fog, Oh Dew" – a Latvian folk song. The first half of it is pure folk music with clean singing, flute and kokle, supplemented with some bass guitar chords, and then suddenly the metal part kicks in, still keeping the original melody and feel of the song. Very fine mix of pure Latvian folk music and heaviness.

All of the previous five songs deal with summer feeling, with "Oh Fog, Oh Dew" with its calmness coming closer to autumn. The following "Woman of Serpents" already has the damp and chilly breath of oncoming autumn, while the lyrics tell about the destruction of sacred grove by the crusaders after the collapse of defenders of Latvia. Therefore the only hope left is a sorceress, living deep in the forests – the Woman of Serpents; now only she can drive off the invaders and ask for Thunder to destroy the newly built christian church. I’m telling all this because I think that the music fits the lyrics perfectly – it is desperate, raging and even a bit frightening at times, musically filling out a very wide spectrum of emotions, combining agreesive riffs, sinister melody lines and fierce vocals. By the way, the quietly spoken part in the middle of the song is believed to be an authentic spell. I consider this song to also be one of the highlits of this album.

The more we are coming to the end of the album, the better it gets. After the desperate fight in previous song we have come to late autumn when nature wraps the scenery in a damp mist "Through the Gates of the World Beyond" is a pure doom metal song, coming also from the Skyforger's early years (formerly it had different lyrics in english and was called "The Legend") , upgraded with some folk music influences and telling about the ritual burial and the time when the souls of the dead can visit their living heir. An awesome song that has the dark atmosphere and heaviness of doom metal with some top notch arrangements. Goose-flesh guaranteed.

And then finally we have come to the end of the album where the song "In Darkness and Frost" marks the arrival of winter. Maintaining the darkness of the previous track it gets a bit faster and more agressive, asking the question of meaning of your life and emphasizing the infinity of life's flow as well lyrically as musically – the fatality is all here, brought to us by the doomy bitter melodies combined with throughout the whole album present heavy riffing, embellished with the flute and kokle and a cool guitar solo.

Conclusion: the strong folkish melodies, powerful riffing, specific guitar melody lines and the not less specific vocals as well as for the first time occasionally used keybord created background moods make this a very unique metal album that depicts some of Latvian way of living and beliefs very picturesque. It is more melodic, classic metal oriented and less raging than Skyforger's previous works, but that doesn’t make it any less powerful or epic. A must have for every folk/pagan metal fan and highly recommended to everyone.

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