The manegarm is a wolf figure in Nordic mythology, some accounts say that it swallows the moon and others say that it is responsible for eclipses by feeding on warriors. Their twenty thirteen outing, Legions of the North
, was an awesome installment in their discography. It featured a lot of hard driving guitar work and had influences of Amon Amarth
. Then their twenty fifteen self titled album didn’t rock out so good, because the majority of the compositions were ballads. The original lead guitarist, Jonas
Almquist, quit the band in twenty sixteen. So Manegarm has been reduced to a trio, but they have still retained a couple of long termed veterans in their lineup. This new release is entitled Fornaldarsagor
, which is Swedish for legendary saga. The album art depicts three battle hardened warriors standing in front of a Viking
ship. With ghostly images of a wolf, a wild boar and a polar bear in the clouds above each of the three Vikings. The booklet says that the lyrics were modeled from ancient Nordic sagas and were adapted to fit their musical schemes.
The first song, Sveablotet, commences with ambient midrange guitar grinding. Then the vocalist suddenly growls as the bass music and drums roll in. The violin music joins in with a quaint melody. Soon the guitarist slashes out a dark headbanging melody at midrange notes, which is bolstered with strong bass lines. The vocalist yells the lyrics with a vicious grim voice in a deep tone, as the drummer pounds the double bass drums at a brisk pace. Then there are slower interludes with the vocalist singing at a dramatic clear voice, which is accentuated with the violin music. Vocalist Erik Grawsio is a twenty three year mainstay and his voice is very recognizable as a big part of the band’s identity. The grim vocals are growled in a savage ferocity with deep tones and using emphasizing lilts. In contrast he sings the clear vocals gracefully with an air of optimism. Ellinor Videfors is a female guest vocalist who performs in a couple of songs and adds some variety to the album.
Guitarist Markus Ande has been with Manegarm since nineteen ninety six and he has performed on all nine of their albums. There are a lot of intricate licks and fast tremolo picking with aesthetic melodies. Sometimes he sharply cuts and slashes with explosive grinding in a Scandinavian splendor. Occasionally there are dynamic leads tinged with diabolic overtones and catchy stutter riffs. The compositions are sometimes led by the violin music, whereupon the guitarist provides the rhythm. The third track, Slaget Vid Bravalla, begins with a folksy violin melody which is backed up by powerful bass notes. The guitarist takes over the melody at a faster tempo, with fluttering snare drums and rapid double bass drum beats. Soon the guitarist shreds with a Scandinavian flair as the vocalist maliciously shouts in a deep grim voice. About midway in the music switches to a choppy rhythm, with the vocalist singing in a frantic clear voice.
The sixth number, Tvenne Drommar, moves forth at mid tempo with a heavy groove that sounds similar to the style of Thyrfing
. Then the guitarist picks out an artistic melody, with deep bass rhythms at a medium tempo. Soon the guitar melody becomes coarser and the violin music joins in, as the fierce grim vocals command the song. Then the violin music leads the composition as the somber clear voice cuts in. Towards the end, the song concludes with the same brutality that it started with. Erik Grawsio also serves as the bassist and he was a member of Cthulhus Scorn
until the band split up. The bass music is almost always noticeable and an integral component of these compositions. He often plays powerful lines with ornamental rhythms and sometimes leads the music. At times there is heavy chugging and he occasionally suspends the lower notes for a dramatic effect.
Hallegren has been with the band since twenty eleven and is also a member of Angrepp. He is a highly skilled percussionist who must have a large drum set. There is a lot of activity and aggressive movement with plenty of aesthetic flair. Of course the drumming goes with the flow of the intensity. There are fast double bass drum blasts and loads of crossover patterns that mix up the tones. The last song, Dodskvadet, starts a very slow pace with gentle violin music and soft acoustic guitar picking. Erik sings with a smooth clear voice, along with the harmonies from Ellinor on the backup vocals. The melodies switch to higher tones, as do the vocals, reaching a more dramatic crescendo. Then about halfway in there is a violin solo, with slightly stronger guitar strums. The vocals subsequently become bolder and more eloquent.
Although the lyrics are in the Swedish language, they have been translated to English in the booklet. The recurring theme relates to the courage of warriors going to battle and that they win even if they die, because they become guests in the hall of Odin
is an exciting mix of energetic instrumentation with artistic designs and epic folk metal. Some of the textures exhibit similarities to Thyrfing
, yet it’s still unmistakably the work of Manegarm. All of the music was written by the vocalist/bassist and all of the lyrics were written by the drummer, which is a very unusual arrangement. Nevertheless, the compositions were very well written and seem to rotate the spotlight between the guitar, bass and violin music. It doesn’t make any difference that the original guitarist is gone, because the band is synergistic as a trio. Fornaldarsagor
just contains two ballads and rocks out much better than their self titled album did. But Legions of the North
was a notch better than this new release, because the songs were more consistently brutal.