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.

Current Playlist

A lot has been going on in my life this weekend so the posting was put on hold for a couple of days. I changed shifts at work for this week so my assistant can have a deserved vacation week, I am returning to my natural overnight shift (12am-8am) for one whole week. For ten years I worked the overnight shift and, almost two years ago now, the powers that be changed it to 6pm-2am. That means I have a little more time to listen to music this week! Here’s what’s been spinning the last couple of days:

Judas Priest – Nostradamus (2008): Anytime the Priest returns with a new album, it’s a reason for me to celebrate. I’ve been a devout worshipper at the altar of Judas Priest since 1982 so I knew I would like the new record. The problem with NOSTRADAMUS isn’t the material, it’s the time. The album clocks in at over an hour and forty minutes! That’s serious listening. So far I like the record but I definitely need more time with it…..a lot more time…..

Moonspell –  Night Eternal (2008): I have had an advance of this album for a few weeks now and I am still listening to it. I haven’t really kept up with Moonspell in the last few years but NIGHT ETERNAL has me checking my Moonspell catalogue so I can fill a few holes. A review is coming…..

Headhunter – Parasite Of Society (2008): Destruction mainman Schmier has had Headhunter going since he left Destruction in 1990 and this is their fourth, and latest, album. It’s not Thrash like Destruction, more like Power Metal, and the vocals are a little hard to take. Review is coming…..

Heidevolk – Walhalla Wacht (2008): I’ve been getting into a lot of Pagan Metal/Viking Metal lately and Napalm Records has been very good to me by sending me some of the latest releases (Tyr, Hollenthon, Heidevolk, etc). The music is superb here, very grand sounding, but the lyrics are all in Dutch. That’s just a small complaint as I’ve just enjoyed listening to the music, it’s not always about the words. Review coming also…..

Iron Maiden – Fear Of The Dark (1993): I love this album! I remember back at the end of my high school years my friends and I were disappointed with 1990’s NO PRAYER FOR THE DYING. Maybe it was because SEVENTH SON was so good? When FEAR OF THE DARK came out in ’93, I waited in line for it at a local record store and got a free poster for my trouble! The title track is so good and ‘From Here To Eternity’ is just classic Maiden. A solid album that everyone forgets.

Iron Maiden – The X-Factor (1995) & Virtual XI (1998): The Blaze Bayley era! There were some good moments in the post-Bruce Maiden like ‘The Clansman’, ‘Man On The Edge’, ‘Sign Of The Cross’, ‘Futureal’…..those were the singles. I decided after the Maiden show Friday night that I had to revisit the Blaze era to give it a fresh listen. Hard to believe these albums were released 13 and 10 years ago respectively.

Krokus – Rock The Block (2003): Marc Storace returns to the band after an 8 year absence and Fernando Von Arb is still pumping out boogie riffs this side of AC/DC’s Angus Young. This “reunion” is basically the Storace/Von Arb show but it was the best Krokus album since HEART ATTACK (1988). This would be one of my Top 10 of 2003.

Iced Earth – Framing Armageddon (2007): What was one of my Top 15 Albums of 2007 (#13) has now become an afterthought. I’ve barely listened to it since the new year and I didn’t even bother to review it. I’m preparing a post on albums I missed in 2007 that I’ve finally bought and I decided to revisit this record.

Kamelot – Ghost Opera (2007): Kamelot is one of my favorite bands and I have been listening to this album once a week since it came out. I decided to really give it a fresh round of spins so I can review it. Another album that made my Top 15 Albums of 2007 (#10), I would rate it higher today.

Journey – Revelation (2008): I really like this record and I’ve been giving this a lot of time on the stereo…..just the new songs mostly.