Heidevolk – Walhalla Wacht (2008)

Heidevolk – Walhalla Wacht (2008, Napalm Records)

  1. Saksenland
  2. Koning Radboud
  3. Wodan Heerst
  4. Hulde Aan de Kastelein
  5. Walhalla Wacht
  6. Opstand Der Bataven
  7. Het Wilde Heer
  8. Naar De Hallen Der Gevallenen
  9. Zwaarden Geheven
  10. Dageraad

Band Lineup:
Joost Vellenknotscher – Drums
Joris Boghtdrincker – Vocals
Mark Splintervuyscht – Vocals
Reamon Bomenbreker – Guitar
Rowan Roodbaert – Bass
Sebas Bloeddorst – Guitar
Stefanie Speervrouw – Violin

Total Time = 41:34

Heidevolk official website
Heidevolk MySpace page
Napalm Records

Until this album arrived at my doorstep, I had never heard of Heidevolk. WALHALLA WACHT marks the band’s second album and is the follow-up to 2005’s DE STRIJDLUST IS GEBOREN. This band from The Netherlands plays a very melodic brand of Pagan/Folk Metal that relies on clean vocals, traditional folk instruments, a heavy guitar and drum sound, and the use of their native Dutch for all the lyrics. Unfortunately, I don’t speak the Dutch language so understanding the lyrics is a problem but it’s the upbeat battle cry of the music and the way the words are sung that catches the ear.

The music is melodic, upbeat and very grand sounding. The blend of the electric and acoustic guitars with the double bass drumming gives the listener what I like to call the “gallop” effect. Think of Iron Maiden, Manowar, Tyr…..there’s an adventerous epic feel to the music like you’re riding into battle or starting some sort of adventure. This gallop rhythm drives the songs and, when put together with the choir singing style, it moves you. Throughout many of the songs more traditional instruments like flutes and violins can be heard giving the songs a more cultural feel (‘Hulde Aan de Kastelein’, ‘Naar De Hallen Der Gevallenen’). The album is heavy as most of the songs are full of heavy riffs and some pretty cool solos to go along with the heavy backline.

As I mentioned, the vocals are sung in Dutch and are mainly a gang/choir style that almost sounds like a chant. Everything is sung cleanly except for the occasional heavy growls (‘Walhalla Wacht’, ‘Opstand Der Bataven’, ‘Het Wilde Heer’) that lend another dimension to the battle-cry. Most of the time both Boghtdrincker and Splintervuyscht sing together and that adds a certain operatic power and depth to the words. I envision the vocals as soldiers singing in unison as they ride into battle, a very powerful image.

Bottom Line:
I’m only starting to explore the realm of Epic/Folk/Pagan/Viking Metal so I’m fairly new to the genre. What strikes me about Heidevolk, and the genre, is the ease at which the band incorporates the traditional instruments and their native language with the heaviness of the music. I have listened to some Folk Metal that is really more like Power Metal-light but every song on WALHALLA WACHT has a heaviness and a depth to the music, there are layers of sound to explore, different instruments to hear. The only negative is that I can’t understand the words but that is a small problem because I learned many years ago that the music is what drives Metal, not so much the words, and the music on WALHALLA WACHT is very good. Heidevolk will be a band I watch in the future and I will be tracking down their first album for a listen.