REVIEW: MANEGARM – “Manegarm”
Manegarm are a Viking/Folk Metal band from Norrtälje, Sweden and have their roots embedded in Norse mythology, from which they derive their name. They’ve released eight studio albums, with the most recent one, the self-titled ‘Manegarm’ out in 2015. Like many other bands that play this kind of music, Manegarm have found themselves in a thriving scene, mixing epic melodies with traditional folk instrumentation and bone-crunching metal riffs.
This self-titled album features ten songs in total and has enough variation to pack in mini-journeys and heroic chanting passages. The album opens with “Blodörn”, making a great first impression. There is a balance between beauty, brutality and grandiose melodies here, sitting on top of subtle traditional melodies that give the listener a very uplifting feel.
Songs like “Tagen Av Daga”, “Odin Owns Ye All” , “Call Of The Runes” and “Nattramn” offer the usual heavy metal affair, having your essential headbanging moments, passages that sound doomy and almost like Black Metal, some really tasty breakdowns, and epic chants to throw your fists to.
In contrast, songs like “Blot”, “Vigverk – Del II” and the closing track “Allfader” offer variety in reduced tempos, acoustic guitars, traditional melodies on the violin, and wonderful singing. With Erik Grawsiö performing multiple duties of vocals, bass guitar, acoustic guitar and percussion, the amount of variation that is found on this album is not very surprising. Supporting him are the guitar duo of Markus Andé and Jonas Almquist, laying down the riffs and the leads respectively. Jacob Hallegren is solid on the drums, keeping all the sounds on each track well knitted.
This album had two distinct stand-out tracks: “Bärsärkarna Fran Svitjod”, which is as traditional as Scandinavian music can get, and my favorite track called “Kraft” which is a heavy ballad with beautiful sing-along melodies that will surely have your heads bobbing.
The album artwork is all crimson in shade and is one of the most striking aspects of this record. Most of the songs on it are sung in their native Swedish language and could be lost in translation to those who don’t speak the language, but the music is as emotive and grand as it can be. The production is very impressive, but that is hardly a surprise these days with great studios located all across Sweden.
Now ‘Manegarm’ might sounds like a mish-mash of bands like Ensiferum , Turisas, Korpiklaani, Alestorm, Moonsorrow, Finntroll, Eluveitie and many others who play this kind of music. One needs to realize that the genre itself is over-the-top, taking a lot of influence from traditional folk sounds of the Scandinavian countries, Swiss lands and mythical adventures of the sea. With the sound so positive and saturated with different emotions, it’s easy to typecast this band. But for those who fancy this music, it’s an album that will take you out on an adventure and bring you back home with enough tales to tell your grandchildren.