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The tale of Falkenbach is really two stories, one of them telling the tale of a one-man project that found an interesting niche between the formative efforts of Bathory and the subsequent 2nd wave of black metal, the other one being how that changed into a project that moved a good bit closer to the former half of said story. One of these stories is not necessarily better than the other in a general musical sense, but they are very much different, which is in itself impressive considering that it all flows to one individual musician/songwriter. Though it may well have been completely unrelated to this band being signed to a prominent label in Napalm Records, when this occurred the obscure and very much blackened character that defined "...In Their Medh Riki Fara..." fell by the wayside and a sound quite similar to that of "Twilight Of The Gods" and Quorthon's later "Nordland" releases emerged in "...Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri...", an album widely heralded by core fans of Viking metal as one of the earliest examples of said style after Bathory.
The best way to distinguish this release from the debut is by seeing it as a Viking album with black metal influences, as opposed to the opposite which was the case previously. With this contrast comes a production quality that is notably higher fidelity, and also one with a much more prominent bass presence that mirrors the influences from Joey DeMaio's that Quorthon began incorporating on "Hammerheart". Likewise, the riff work has shifted from being heavily informed by the shimmering, post-rock character of the 2nd wave tremolo style to a slower, thudding 80s metal character that is heavily similar to the plodding juggernaut sound of "Sign Of The Hammer". The songs are generally of a similarly epic scope, but cut back to a much more minimalist mode, often dwelling upon a singular riff for an extended period of time without any overt contrast to speak of, and stick to the slower side of the tempo register. In other words, it sounds a lot like Manowar but without the speed metal and celebratory anthems of slaying the poseurs.
Nevertheless, one thing that has remained constant is Vakyas' vocal character, which generally resembles both the garbled blackened shrieks and plain sung character of Enslaved's transitional offering "Eld", though the chanting clean vocals have taken on a dominant role. This is the one area where Falkenbach has differed pretty significantly from Viking era Bathory, as the character of the vocals is quite static and almost trance-inducing rather than gritty and impassioned. This is best exemplified on "The Heathenish Foray", which features a droning vocal and melodic line that consists of about 5 different notes and almost sounds like a mantra recitation, not all that different from the occasional clean vocal lines that can be found in some of Agalloch's material. Interestingly enough, the keyboard presence has been heightened to such a level that it actually competes with the vocals for equal prominence and tends to drive the songs. This even proves to be the case on the fastest and most aggressive of this album's offerings "Baldur Tod", which almost flirts with an up tempo power metal feel, but also manages to sound like an orchestrated film score theme amid the heavy synthesized string overlay.
Overall, this is the sort of album that is quite impressive at first glance, but tends to cater more to early metal fans who like things kept simple and who don't mind long and repetitive epics. It is very well put together and offers up a clearly defined whole where each individual part can be fully discerned and appreciated, and actually manages to one-up all of Bathory's cumulative releases in terms of polish. Having said that, it lacks the charm and originality that made the first album a sort of cult classic that straddled the lines between black and Viking metal to the point that one wonders how Quorthon didn't write something like it between "Blood Fire Death" and "Hammerheart". It's a solid collection of songs that all fans of the sub-genre should be familiar with. It marks a pretty big shift in direction, but is far from the most illogical one to ever about in the metal world.
I admit I'm not the greatest fan of viking metal – it seems like most albums in the genre are basically an assemblage of simple riffs, a few synths, amateurish vocals (both harsh and clean), lyrical clichés, and simple rock-oriented song structures. It's not as though the genre cannot turn out a few classics, but in general it seems to be aesthetically lacking. This album was so excellently-reviewed I thought I may have found a diamond-in-the-rough, but it I ended up failing to see what made this album so special.
Starting with the positives, the melodies are pretty good – the riffs are atmospheric and the synth parts fit nicely. The musicianship is really nothing to write home about, nor would you expect it to be. The lyrics have a trite subject matter, obviously, but at least utilize it with it in interesting ways. Most of the songs are narratives (always a plus, in my book), with what seems like some text from the original Norse sagas ...Seriously, though, why is this Vakyas guy obsessed with putting three periods everywhere...?
The songwriting is clever in some respects. Sometimes a part is played early in a song and then repeated later in a totally different context. For instance, the creepy pizzicato-sounding melody that's in the B section of “When Gjallarhorn Shall Sound” is played again at the C section around 5:30 over a totally different riff. Another example is how the beginning riff in “Where Blood Shall Soon be Shed” is echoed by the drum part around 3:30 into the song.
Generally speaking, though, the song writing is poor. A lot of the song structure is just standard rock fair – some versus, a chorus, an instrumental bridge for contrast. Ideas seem to be recycled often (the solos are mostly just a repetition of the vocal melody, for instance).
To say it bluntly, the songs can get boring. Sections tend to be long (you’ll often go through two minutes of basically the same stuff; “Towards The Hall of the Bronzes Shields” rarely changes at all), none of it is very fast, and, most importantly, there is a feeling of languor in these vocals and riffs.
When Falkenbach experiments with black metal (“Where Blood Shall Soon Be Shed”), this feeling of languor can translate into a pretty good grove and atmosphere, but the vocals are still behind. The growling is not like the death shrieks of Varg or Quorthon – they’re just rhythmically soporific, with not much variability or passion.
The folk metal parts are less successful then the black metal parts. The singing is basically soft chanting – not the boisterous bellowing of a proud Viking, but the introspective chanting of an amateur. Look at the chorus of “Walhall,” for instance: that chorus just feels so listless for a song about, of all things, Valhalla.
Anyway, get it if you like viking metal. I doubt you'll be blown away, but you might find something you like.
Positive Points – solid viking metal, ahead of the game in some respects: good riffs, lyrics and atmosphere; tasteful synths
Negative Points – as far as metal in general, this album isn't all that great, mostly because of mundane songwriting and a general sense of flatness
This is the first album I bought in Falkenbach’s discography and it still remains my favourite one. This one-man band can be seen as one of the most famous and representative in Viking metal and surely one of the best. The first album was still a bit black metal oriented in many parts with heavier guitars and gloomy atmospheres, while this ...Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri... finally threw the bases for an album to know and remember in this particular genre. I’ve always seen this band as one of the most melodic in this kind of music and this album is the major example of my personal theory.
It’s 1998 and the some of the greatest outputs in Viking metal were already been archived in the history of metal. When everything seemed a bit stagnant in this music, Vratyas Vakyas, a German guy decided to show all the skills and his personal, majestic songwriting to create this little jewel. The atmospheres always played an important role in Falkenbach music and they are far more present than in the other band. We can consider this band as the most “exaggerated” in this genre right for the always present and pounding melodies. By the way, this album is the one that always achieved to create an atmosphere that I’ve never found in other efforts by other bands. You can describe these melodies as “cheesy” or what you want but the fact is that they are great. Stop.
“...When Gjallarhorn Will Sound” is an outstanding opener. Everything is already displayed and clear. The hyper epic melodies, over a carpet by the heavier guitars, are huge. The drums tempo is always the same, as to accompany the flowing, massive and Viking melodies. The idea of using the drum machine can be dangerous and questionable but it’s never annoying to me; maybe because the attention inevitably moves towards the melodies by the always present keyboards and the perfectly executed vocal choirs. The blackest metal breaks are full of shriek vocals and the following “...Where Blood Will Soon Be Shed” is the most fitting examples on this album. The dark lines are more present even during the epic parts that are now really gloom.
The production is great because never too pounding, especially for the drums, and gives the right attention the melodies deserve on an album like this one. Everything is well balanced and the guitars, even not being the most important element, are always present in the background to accompany the songs. With “...Towards the Hall of Bronzen Shields” we return to the pagan greatness through hyper catchy but extremely evocative melodies. I believe that if the Vikings had the possibility to listen to a certain form of music that could accompany them through the seas and the storms, that music would have been the one by this huge band. “The Heathenish Foray” features just two changes of atmospheres and melodies but it’s great like this. Its strong point is to never annoy and bore and this is not a small, unimportant thing.
If the beginning to “Walhall” is not the best one in fantasy, being with a standard tempo by the drums and an essential riffage, it has one of the greatest refrain ever made by this band. The clean vocals reach unbelievable peaks of melody and epic feeling. When he sings “Walhall the hall of shining shields where once I'll be to celebrate my death...” with the following melody, I’m in ecstasy and I can feel chills everywhere. The last instrumental track is faster at the drumming and shows really dramatic lines with dark breaks where the epic feeling is in another direction, this time a darker one. At the end, a sensation of satisfaction and power fills my veins and I know that this album will forever be taken as a landmark in this genre for me.
Albums like this one are not just rare, are unique. The pagan prosperity is all here, in every single note and sensation. The ancients are now pleased.
“...Evening fell that day long time gone,
the ravens above still showed the way,
they were guided by Odhinn, led by the one,
who shelters the fallen every day by day...”
The album starts very positively with When Gjallarhorn Will Sound. An unobtrusive droning ambience underpins a nice 'pipe' melody tooting away (at once grand and also warm), with some less welcome 'timpani' whacks before the band proper kicks in. The guitars are heavy and well produced without being overly polished and the main vocal tune mirrors the melody in the intro. Effective harsh vocals are used in a stock beauty-and-the-beast style, alternating with the more predominant clean ones, which are almost spoken. The clean vocals are not exactly accomplished, but sound decent and fit in well. Throughout the track there are some slightly mystifying new age-style keyboard tinkles - it adds a little body to the music, but sounds quite silly. They aren't too jarring or obtrusive, though. The track overall is decent and heavy, but relies too strongly on the same vocal melody repeating too often. Drums are efficient, no more. They sound like a machine, but it's not an issue.
The other tracks suffer more as the songwriter uses an incredibly obnoxious vocal distortion effect for spoken passages of three songs. The songs themselves range from decent (Where Blood will Soon Be Shed) to rather boring (Walhall). These would be fine enough, but unfortunately the distorted vocals destroy any atmosphere - they sound identical to the kind of cheap voice effect used on radio adverts for Venom's At War with Satan, and that band wasn't even serious about it. And it was 1983. The less 'epic' second track Where Blood will Be Shed works well in its minimalism - it's very driven and without much bullshit involved, and the least offensive keyboard use of any track on the album.
The first truly awful use of the distorted vocals is near the beginning of Towards the Hall of Bronzen Shields which interrupts an attractive pseudo-chant melody with Halloweenish crap. This is redeemed somewhat by an unexpectedly pleasant solo mirroring the vocal melody (seems to be a favourite trick of the songwriter). The Heathenish Foray sees a return of the tooty 'pipes' underpinning the guitars in typically repetitive fashion. The mid-song breakdown sees the backing tune on the keys continue 'naked' for a moment, and unfortunately highlights how keyboard driven this music is. After an irritating little build-up after that, the song goes into repeat mode again, and much the same music as at the start plays until the end.
By the time the album reaches Walhall the formula has become tiresome. Another attractive clean-sung melody with more keyboard-driven underpinning and offering zero surprises to the listener. An endurable sympho (but sounding more like a circus organ) passage emerges in the middle, and we once again meet the SATAN IS HERE distorted voice - the last track didn't include any, making the reappearance doubly annoying. The song ends identically to all the rest; breakdown, repeat, fin.
The final track Baldurs Tod I was tempted to call an outro. It's as long as the other tracks, but it is instrumental and entirely keyboard-driven with the guitars relegated to backing the keyboard melodies. It is also highly repetitive. I say "was" going to call this an outro, because I realised that minus the vocals, this is essentially identical in structure to the other tracks of the album - the guitar/keyboard balance is just switched. Unfortunately this is also the poorest track of the album from a technical point of view. It begins with a drone like the first track, then some really shitty sounding 'mock violin section' keys (basically the generic "UUUUHHHHH" sound that is so popular with metal bands) spinning another simple but tuneful melody - it's underpinned by some annoying 'timpani' whacks on the repeat (also like the first track) and the tune changes to a bridge which is so alien to the way a real violin is played that the entire keyboard sound becomes ridiculous. Here comes the good part: the guitars now kick in over the main melody and it sounds epic as fuck. This is 50 seconds into the track. There are 5 minutes to go. To sum up: it barely changes. There's a very brief breakdown, a slightly altered second melody (sounds almost like the main one, but inverted), but this song tests the patience of the listener as much as it does their sense of aesthetics.
Overall this album is brimming with potential - a little more diversity and fewer tacky elements could've made it stand out. It is repetitive in all aspects; riffs, melodies and structure. Like many positive reviewers, at first I was quite enamoured with this band for its unique and powerful sound - but it doesn't stand up on a technical level and once the novelty wears off there is an equal amount of under-achievement to every success in the music.
It's not often that I completely concur with public opinion, but such is the case with Falkenbach. The beauty and majesty of his recordings more or less demand it. This, his 1998 recording called "...Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri...", which translates to "...mixed with strength and pride glory...", is a near-perfect exemplification of the Viking metal genre. Though it may appear a short album, it is actually over forty-one minutes in length, with all six tunes being five-and-a-half minutes or longer.
All of the lyrics on this recording are in English and the vocal performance is divided between a clean high-baritone range style and "death" vocals. The sole member, Vratyas Vakyas as he likes to be known, issues the clean vocals with nice harmonic precision against the keyboard chorusing and guitar work.
On one side note, though, I'd have to wonder why he'd use a pseudonym on top of a pseudonym. His real name is Markus Tuemmers, but prefers to go by Vratyas Vakyas. On top of this, his group project is called Falkenbach, yet he's the sole member. I'd call this a curiosity and not a judgement.
I would describe the Falkenbach sound as very pure, aesthetically and thematically. He makes liberal use of "parallel fifths" in his chord arrangements and vocal line. With the added keyboard sounds of strings, tin-whistle and occasional brass, he puts out an incredibly strong harmony that reinforces the melody in every bar. Vratyas' clean vocals are not fancy, but they're always right on the mark.
Take for instance the first song, "... When Gjallarhorn Will Sound", a very powerful melody in 6/8 time, seemingly a standard for folk tunes as well as for black metal. When you hear this song, somewhere in the back of your mind you're thinking "When Johnny comes marching home again, hurrah! hurrah!" The melody to this song is so simple that it's perfect. The keyboards play this melody using a tin-whistle voice in addition to the synth pad bass drone and part-string-part-brass chord chorusing. Vratyas' vocals flawlessly glide in, and by the first refrain, establish hearty, steady and powerful sound. The next verses are sung in "death vocals", which he also handles with skill and precision. The resonance resides in a mid-to-high range, and does not sound breathy, but rather fits well, perfectly mixed with the music.
My vote for the best song on the album would probably have to be "The Heathenish Foray", for its absolutely majestic melody and pure vocal lines. This would be the one track with a major flaw, however, in that the vocal lines are all sung too low. At a few points in each verse he bottoms out and his voice is barely audible at those point. This, to note, was an issue corrected on the later release "Heralding - The Fireblade" on which the song was re-recorded in a different key.
This album is forty-one minutes full of really delightful and addictive melodies that really stay with you after you're finished listening to the album. Though some might interpret that as the album being a bit "samey", but I interpret that as a powerful tribute to the true Viking metal. It is also interesting to note that there is not a single song with any blastbeats in the drumwork. Unlike almost every other Viking metal band, which are mostly derivative of the black metal genre, Falkenbach has a truly unique sound in the entire realm of metal. That's why I give this album a 97 out of 100. For flawless production, excellent mixing, a truly original sound, and very good musical execution.
Falkenbach – Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri
Not as black as the first one, not as polished as the latter, but atmospheric beyond them all, ...Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri… is truly the best piece Vratyas Vakyas had ever written. This album really sounds like it should: like feeling the strong wind through your hair and the cold water on your face, standing on your vikingship, sailing the endless sea’s, on to new adventures.This atmosphere is created by two important parts: the songwriting itself and the production of the album. Let’s start with the first one.
As soon as the first song starts, you’re taken along on a journey to the north. First thing noticed is the fact that the keyboards add exactly the right touch to the music, being epic and creating the right atmosphere. The songs are long, grand and spun out over at least five-and-a-half minutes each, which gives them time to build to a climax. All songs are great; some really stand out, “… When Gjallerhorn Will Sound…” for example. The clean-vocal parts accompanied by the keyboard tunes are really epic and belong to the greatest parts in vikingmetal-history. These are alternated by the more Black Metal-parts, when the grunts come in and the riff gets a rougher direction. On other songs, there’s also another sings style, which are actually spoken words slowed down to make them sound lower. This style is a nice addition, although it’s clear to hear that it’s not a real low voice, put slowed down afterwards. This does a kind of harm to the authentic feel of the album. The climax of all songs however, really comes to his highest point at the last song: “Baldur’s Tod”. This is the highlight of the album, being totally instrumental and inspiring as if Odin himself wrote it in his best days. The song is mainly based on a keyboard-tune that keeps repeating itself in two or thee variations, backed up by a consistent blastbeat. When listening to this one, you wish it keeps going on forever. The part which sounds like the end, but is just a short pause before going on (on full strength), is one of the best pieces of music ever. Listen to it for yourself for the best example.
The production of this album also adds to the greatness of it. Myself being not a great Black Metal-fan, I’d be one of the last people who would say that a sloppy production would add something to the atmosphere of an album. Here however, I have no choice to acclaim that it is indeed possible. The guitarsound on the album is really raw, and the riffs are sometimes a little indistinguishable, but they sound real powerful and give the best foundation the songs can get. The drums also have exactly the right sound, as if someone is beating a drum to make all you Vikings row at the same speed on your longboat. Not too modern, not sloppy or anything, perfection is the word. All this, of course, in perfect harmony with the keyboards.
After listening to this album many times, I have to conclude that it is one of the best, if not the best, Vikingmetal-albums ever made, and every fan of the genre should try to find it and worship Vratyas Vakyas for making this one-man project such a success. Extra points added for the beautiful artwork, where the logo is not too conspicuously present so that is does not harm the painting itself. The few people who own this album as LP should prize themselves especially lucky, just for heaving a bigger version of the artwork.
…Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri… is a perfect representation of what Viking metal bands should strive for. The album is amazing from opening to closing, leaving you with a clear idea of what Falkenbach is. The songs are typically 6-8 minutes, and never get repetitive or boring, even after several listens. The vocals range from clean, spoken words to chanted to black shrieks, they add a lot to the music, keeping everything flowing while still standing out.
Another excellent part of the music is the keyboards. While they aren’t overpowering, they are definitely noticeable. They are used in the background, adding a new level of depth and furthering the atmosphere. The guitars are used, generally, to the same effect, which is heightening the atmosphere and adding depth. The drums are done just right, not sloppy, but keeping perfectly with the music. After listening, you will realize there is no dominant instrument, but rather they are all used equally, leaving you with a beautiful and amazing sound I have never heard from any other band.
There are no weak tracks on the album, but rather every song is a standout track. They are all very epic and beautifully done, giving you a good view of what Pagan views are all about. You will be taken through battles, hear about Odhinn’s exploits, and take a journey through the Northlands. You will want to listen to this again and again.
Falkenbach is and amazing band, as proven by this album. Vratyas Vakyas shows here he is right up with Quorthon in lyrical genius, and this is one of the few bands that rival Bathory, which is definitely saying something about Falkenbach. This album is a must own for any metal collection, and once you listen to it, you won’t be able to stop listening to it. Sit back and enjoy the pure genius that is …Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri…
After a few months of expanding only my black metal collection I was looking for something a bit different. I bought this album solely based on the reviews found here and let me tell you I was more than pleased. I was familiar with the sound, (later Bathory) but did not know how powerful or epic it could be done. This album is simply amazing, no other way to describe it. Falkenbach is an ingenious project, using strong and empowering riffs from both the guitar and keyboard. Drums are used in exactly the right way to support and amplify the grand sound of this album. Vocals vary from harsh black metal syle to clean, adding to the variety of this album.
The best way to listen to this is after a few drinks, sit back in your chair and be swept off to epic scenery, grand battles and sailing ships. You can get toally lost in this album with it's heavy Nordic influence and sounds, as often flutes, reeds and other assorted instruments creep in to the music, adding to the powerful feel that is this album. The songs sound similar but are hardly boring, each is unique in it's own way which will add to the replay value of Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri.
You will not get tired of this. This being my first experience with Falkenbach I am already impressed at how many times I can listen to this and still have it sound fresh. There are just such a variety of things happening in this album for it to be listened to a few times and forgotten. If you are a fan of viking metal at all, you will not be dissapointed with this release. Buy it!
This album, ...Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri..., is as glorious and phenomenal as the Northlands themselves. This is pure, and I mean pure, Viking and Folk influenced Metal. You can tell no doubt, that it is. Let us being with the strong sound.
Vratyas Vakyas is indeed a great mind, and with him comes great ideas. A main part that sticks out in his music is his use of atmospheres and Nordic sounds, carrying a greater variety of atmospherics than Quorthon himself, Vratyas' music takes you on a ride into the Northlands and the Sea, into battles, and full force into Heathen pride.
Vratyas Vakyas is just a master at what he does. His vocals are excellent, very Folk like, a great chanter and singer, but when he needs to get his point across with Black Metal like screeches he can do it, and still keep the mood that he gives. A Great display of his vocals are the songs...When Gjallarhorn Will Sound and Walhall.
What really sticks out in his music is his drumming, of course, great drums, giving the Nordic feel, along with his use of flutes and strings, and his shredding guitar that keeps the melodies perfectly, sets an awesome and epic mood
Now for the tracks. For me, each track is exceptional, and as good as each other, and they are all amazing and unequalled, I think, unless by songs such as A Fine Day to Die or One Road to Asa Bay save or take a few others. "When Gjallarhorn Will Sound" the opening track wonderfully sets the mood for the cold Scandinavian climate and the Viking feel. Though it would seem odd to say this, but everyone of his tracks is very alike, drum style, vocals, guitars, except the thing is, it's not repetitive. His music carries wonderfully. Every single song on this album is an epic piece of work. Mixed with great quality adds to this excellence.
Now for lyrics, let me just say this, just think of Bathory and Amon Amarth lyrics, and you can picture reading Falkenbachs lyrics. Though they are nowhere near the same. They take you through epic fights and journeys throughout the Northern world. They also speak great tales of Oden and many other mythical Gods and beings. Not only do his lyrics flow very well, they are exciting to read.
To wrap up the album, along with the man behind the work, it is indeed an epic piece of work, equaled only by the work of bands such as Bathory and Vintersorg. So much atmosphere is incorporated into this music, that once you are done with the album, you will feel as if you had just returned from and epic odyssey around the world. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did (do).
Falkenbach, a viking metal band formed in 1989 has had quite a past with recordings, but with their Sophmore album i think the band has outdone with themselves a flawless metal/folk masterpiece. With realistic keyboards, the layered keyboards, and the pure black metal riffs/drumming put together to make one of the most brilliant albums i have had the pleasure to listening to. Each track is extremely powerful and atmospheric. The composing of this album is so perfectly done it takes my breath away each time i play this album.
The sound for most songs on this album includes quite the majestic and medieval feel to the overall sound. With the operatic chants of Vakyas, to the darker chords, to the strings/woodwind emulated keyboard brillance you will not find any release as well put together. With each song becoming more powerful. With war/pagan typed themed in songs such as The Heathenish Foray you can imagine everything going on the battlefield as the previous review was stating it. There is also a darker side to this band when you hear the symphonic epic known as Baldurs Tod which ends this album with you in awe.
Along with the atmospheric masterpieces the songs just get stuck in your head and you will still find yourself headbanging to this great viking metal masterpiece. Even if you are not a fan of viking metal you will find the beauty behind this piece as it attacks and penetrates your ears with it's majesty and power, few albums can compare. I would definately recommend to anyone in seek of brilliance in the metal genre as this album should be a candidate in albums you have to check out!
It was hard for one to think that a band could top up the level of absolute musical genius they had previously set for themselves. Falkenbach proves this wrong with the release of “Magni Blandinn Ok Meginitiri”. After a hugely successful demo and full-length, the one-man band hailing from Iceland returned to show he that he had much more talent than he had led on. This cluster of epic war tales kicks off with “When Gjallahorn Will Sound”. The track starts of somber and modest, only to break out into a heavy pounding rhythm, super-catchy riffs, spine-tingling chants, and some of the best Black Metal vocals ever heard. The listener can’t help but be enthralled over the course of the 41 minutes, as they are entangled in stories of war, heros, and the Ancient Way, and as the unparalleled brilliance of Vratyas Vakyas shines through. To finish it all off, Vakyas threw in the fast-paced 6-minute instrumental track, entitled “Baldurs Tod”. This is easily one of the best metal albums of all time, and definitely in my top 10. A must have for any fan of Folk/Viking Metal!