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Band Name Yggdrasil (SWE)
Album Name Irrbloss
Type Album
Released date 25 April 2011
Music StylePagan Black
Members owning this album12


1. Höstmörkrets Natt
2. Bergtagen
3. Skaldefader
4. Irrbloss
5. Tokikvad
6. Norrland
7. Uppåkra
8. Kungabål

Review @ InfinityZero

02 May 2011

An easy-to-swallow taste of competent, well-written folk metal, though it fails to deviate from folk metal norms.

Although our Spirit of Metal page for Yggdrasil claims that this Swedish band is pagan black metal, from the first notes of the opening song, I feel that this album is much more folk-metal than black metal. The songs generally have an open, cheery tone, the clean vocals overpower the harsh ones, and there's a whole slew of assorted different instruments like flutes, violins, cellos, and more. Everything is more fluid and melodic than what would generally be expected from black metal, and everything just sounds cleaner. So, I'm going to be looking at this album as a folk metal album, because I think that that is category this band should be reviewed by.

The album opens with what is probably the most promising track: Höstmörkrets Natt. As with a lot of these sorts of albums, we start with a nice melancholy intro with what sounds like an accordion. The intro isn't dragged through the mud and stretched out for 2 minutes, though--instead, the drums pound their way to the surface and the guitars and bass shortly follow, being led by the same intro that had started up before. The singer comes in with a steady chant as the song drops to a mid-paced chugging interlaced with a harsh section that alternates, giving a nice patterned sense. The song continues to wind through different patterns and tempos, giving us a full range of the vocals. The clean vocals, as I said before, are pretty much centre stage. They aren't quite singing, though--it's more of a gregorian chanting. It really gives the album a very folksy, viking feeling that reminds me of Windir's Arntor. And then there are the harsh vocals. These aren't as good. They're confident enough, they aren't very whiny, and they have strength in them. My one big issue is that they seem to be recorded inconsistently with everything else. They sound like they were just sloppily overlapped with the rest of the music, recorded in different conditions. It sounds like they've been recorded in someone's basement, while the rest of the album's production is clean, as if recorded in a confident studio. Aside from that, the vocals don't have much range, and they can't seem to sustain a note for longer than two seconds. Fortunately, these vocals aren't used enough to become irritating, and they become a minor detractor. Lastly, we have a female vocalist. Most of the time, she's in the background, singing softly along with the music. She doesn't come to the forefront all that often, which makes it a treat when she does. Her voice stands out to me the most in Bergtagen, although she does have a soft, quiet song at the very end of the album where she comes to the called Kungabål, but apart from that she just serves as a backup singer.

The album is very winding, full of interesting drum fills, sporradic yet organized guitar riffing, and the occassional solo-esque section (the chorus riff to Bergtagen, for instance). These solo-ey moments are probably the most unorthodox for the genre, but they're all well executed and work well with the music. There's always another instrument that's brought forward to supply good, organic variation that blends well with the bold-adventure tone of the album. The songs vary pretty well in tone as well; songs like Skaldefader and Uppåkra feel perilous and a little ominous, while songs like Irrbloss and Norrland feel airy and light. There are a few moments in songs where my attention wanes, but those are very few. Generally the album feels like it has many layers and dimensions to it.

The only negatives to point out is that the album doesn't seem to lead in any direction. The songs are all good by themselves, but they don't seem to lead the album to a conclusion. Apart from the outro song, the order that the songs take are pretty interchangeable. This is a pretty nit-picky complaint, though. There's another thing about this album that prevents it from being really really good, and I feel that this is a more legitimate complaint: it doesn't cross any borders. It's pretty much a straight-to-formula genre imitater. It emulates the folk metal sound really well, which is good, but Yggdrasil doesn't take the genre and make it it's own.

So, in the end, Yggdrasil's Irrbloss is a sugary, easy-to-swallow taste of competent and well-written folk metal, although it fails to push the envelope or deviate from it's fellow folk metal bands and folk metal norms. This isn't too much of a detractor if you're someone like me who doesn't listen to a ton of folk metal, and like I said--the album's confidence does overshadow the use of a standard formula, but I think a touch of deviance or innovation would really push Irrbloss--and by extension, Yggdrasil--into something much more worthwhile. But anyway, overall the band defenitely has a lot of strengths and promise, so if you're a folk-metal lover, this is something that's defenitely worth checking out.

Best songs here are probably Bergtagen, Höstmörkrets Natt, and Uppåkra.

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