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For oppi fjellet! - 84%

Egregius, February 22nd, 2004

Featuring some big names, Storm's Nordavind is meant as a tribute (hymn) to Norway and Norwegian folklore. Big names, because the musicians are well known for their other bands; Sigurd Wongraven is known for his work in Wongraven and Satyricon, 'Herr Nagell' for Darkthrone, and Kari Ruesl├ątten is known best for her part in 3rd and the Mortal, but also for her solo-albums, and being sampled in a drum'n'bass song or 3(!) (boy was I surprised when I recognized her name). Nordavind is a tribute to Norway, because the songs are mostly metallized Norwegian folk songs.

Referring to the music contained on this disc simply as 'metallized folk tunes' would be disrespectfull however, as the album is considered a landmark album for folk-metal by many. In fact, after Skyclad and Cruachan, Storm are probably the best known folk-metal band, and certainly one of the most influential, if not THE most influential (there are DROVES of folk-metal bands doing Scandinavian folk in this style). Many a band is still being compared to them (most notably Otyg, who used to be called 'Sweden's answer to Storm').

The music itself could indeed be called metallized Norwegian folk though; like with folk, the songs are built around a central (melodical) theme. This works extremely with the buzzy heavy guitars, as it as such conveys the whole of an emotion by going into variations on the central theme, which has that very same emotion contained within itself. Especially sentiments, of forlorn introspection, epicness, pride, respect for the beauty of the countryside, are well conveyed on Nordavind. And as is common with good folk(-metal), the melodies stick.

According to the booklet, Wongraven and Nagell were almost finished with recording the album when Kari arrived, showing she shared the other members feelings for the idea behind this project. I'm glad they made her join, as she has a very pleasant, tender voice. She offsets Wongraven's and Nagell's deep and heavy clean vocals excellently. Wongraven and Nagell alternate doing the lead vocals, or even feature next to eachother, if Kari isn't given all the space. Harsh vocals are almost completely avoided, which makes the album easier to be appealed by for many, were it not that the overall sound is quite heavy, almost doomy.

My favorite song on Nordavind has to be Oppi Fjellet (translated as 'High Mountains'). All the lyrics are in Norwegian, and aren't in the booklet, but everybody, drunks included, can sing along to this excellent (I'd almost say 'drinking-')song. With it's 'Oppi Fjellet! Oppi Fjellet!' every other line, and occasional low 'Hey!'s, it instantly sticks.

Storm's Nordavind is a must-check for every folk-metal lover, as for many a band, this was the blueprint. The sentence 'Storm is not a political band exclusively' in the booklet was a bit unfortunate, as the band would be stigmatised as nationalistic, instead of 'romantic'. Of course, many bands that followed did occasionally have their own dubious sentiments. Overall, if I had to compare the album, I'd say I like Nordavind over Otyg's 'Sagovindar's Boning', as Storm doesn't go overboard on the melody like Otyg, and instead sticks to single song-themes that stay with you. And hey, Storm has Oppi Fjellet.