Skálmöld was created by long-time friends Snæbjörn Ragnarsson and Björgvin Sigurðsson back in 2009 and here we have their fourth helping of Viking metal, mixing elements of melodic folk beauty and growling death metal. 2016’s offering brings Baldur Ragnarsson on guitars, Gunnar Ben on Keys, Jón Geir Jóhannsson manning the drums, Snæbjörn on bass, Þráinn Árni Baldvinsson on guitars and returning Björgvin on guttural vocals.
Most that are followers of this impressive six-piece group know what to expect when Skálmöld gather to record new work. Well received releases like 2014’s ‘Með vættum’ proved the staying power and further built on the legacy of work achieved thus far. Would ‘Vögguvísur Yggdrasils’ continue this momentum? Let’s take a look at the track list!
‘Muspell’ starts things off with an eerie opening that quickly launches into Sigurðsson’s familiar vocals. Grunting and growling along with a relentless guitar solo one can’t help be impressed with the overall presentation for this opening track. ‘Niflheimur’ brings forth intense marching riffs back and forth while not really progressing anywhere in particular, which is ok. ‘Nidavellir’ punches our experience back into a classic folk metal arrangement. Pure fun, excellent transitions from an enchanting chorus of voices to well executed guitars. Can’t ask for much more than this!
‘Midgardur’ seems content at first to welcome you in with a dooming intro of horses prodding through a gravel road accompanied by duelling harmonic guitars at a snail’s pace, but quickly ups the tempo with an extraordinary work of guitars, growls, n’ grunts. Love the near thrashy outro to this one as well! ‘Utgardur’ changes the pacing a bit with some classic riffs bringing on nostalgic flashbacks. Love the angry crowd chanting along with the chorus!
‘Alfheimur’ brings something unique to the table that we haven’t heard in this release. Whether it is anything special is really up to the listener. While it doesn’t really offer anything that would make a guy want to listen to outside of a complete end to end experience of this album, it does offer a neat gateway between two tracks. ‘Asgardur’ brings us our third track of this release that ends with ‘*gardur’. If I understood Icelandic I’m sure I would grasp the connection there. Ha!
Regardless, with our final two tracks, ‘Helheimur’ and ‘Vanaheimur’ each bring forth terrific transitions, terrific chants and grunts, as well as a harmony that anyone with an interest in Norse Mythology would find quite pleasing to the ears. This is a solid effort for Skálmöld, which should make any fan very excited for what they've delivered here. There is room for improvement of course, but this is still easily one of their finest efforts. Recommended!
Review by Joshua Jaeger
30th Sept 2016
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"This is a solid effort for Skálmöld, which should make any fan very excited for what they've delivered here."