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Uit Oozes Greatness - 95%

severzhavnost, June 6th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2010, CD, Napalm Records

Well, if Uit Oude Grond really is Heidevolk's worst work, as the low scores before me suggest, then they are doing a lot of things right! All of the best elements of folk/viking metal are showcased here, with practically nothing you don't want in there. Fantastically harmonized, deep but clear vocals bordering on a chanting style - check. Catchy Germanic folk melodies mostly led by the guitars - check. Cool mandolins poking out now and then without neutering the metal - check!

Bockting and van Gelre, with occasional backup from Jesse Middelwijk for catchy group choruses, manage to turn one of the cheesier ideas of viking metal into a respectable signature for themselves. That is, many other bands in the Falkenbach/Kampfar/Thyrfing vein relegate their rare clean vocals to the intentionally simple singalong choruses, so they end up feeling very camp. Heidevolk's vocal crew sing in that deep, sort of ritualistic chant all the time, so it feels like it belongs. That's not to say it ever gets monotone. The guys often harmonize with one taking the (relatively) higher registers, and the effect is always rousing. Check the chorus of "Ostara" and the opening verses of "Reuzenmacht" for the best of the vocal harmonies.

Musically, Heidevolk achieve a true mixture of folk tunes with metal instruments, like I believe the genre should. Along with Skyforger and Obtest, I'd put these Dutchmen on the list of masters of doing folk metal properly: which to me, means that they play "metalized folk". Even the fully guitar-dominated songs like "Nehalennia" and "Een Geldersch Lied", don't need any fiddling or other stuff to remind you it's folk, because of the super catchy Germanic folk melody being played by said guitars themselves. (The bullhorn in "Nehalennia" is of course still welcome, and a pretty cool touch.) 

On the other side, songs like "Alvermans Wraak" and "Levenslot" offer the band's best moments of trading mandolin and guitar leads, both of which make the most of their time in the sun. "Deemstering" is a wistful little fully acoustic piece that would have made a lovely farewell to the album, except that there's another (admittedly quite good), song after it.

Pretty much the only things I'd take out from this masterpiece are the mercifully rare attempts at harsh vocals in "Vlammenzee" and "Beest bij Nacht". Not that they're poorly done, they're just unnecessary and out of character. I could also do without the drinking and hey-heys at the end of "Alvermans Wraak", but I guess that's no biggie.

Need more clean singing in your folk/viking metal collection? Need more folkish melodies played on metal guitars, rather than lazy metal chugs accompanied with flutes and fiddles? Start here!

Strong, but stereotypical - 70%

zaebangad, April 24th, 2010

I must admit that Heidevolk are relatively new to me. Although I've known this band for a while, I never really bothered too much to acquire their stuff. Their video (for Nehalennia I believe) sparked a new interest and I decided to check this album out.

What really stands out about Heidevolk is their vocal work. Unfortunately, if one dismisses that, then the band has really nothing going for it, since everything else is quite average viking metal fare.

The album is off to a nice and energetic start. However, Nehalennia is just too long a song to keep it up. The few first songs, although masterfully sung, lack a great deal in dynamics - the guitar, at first driving, becomes stale as it keeps at it for several minutes without changing tempo, or the general composition. And, as folk instrumentation is scarce, it falls down to the guitars to drive the album. All too quickly it wears down and loses momentum.

The true trick to viking and folk metal as employed by many good bands of the genre is to build atmosphere, either one of fast, ale-swiggin' n' battle-lovin' folk-fest debauchery, or one of slow, sky-reaching viking hymns of epic proportions. Heidevolk fail to build any atmosphere for a great deal of their album, and herein lies its true ailment, its rampant staleness.

However, as the album progresses it does become significantly better. Perhaps it's a greater use of melodies, as opposed to the first few riff-based songs. It's as if at this point Heidevolk realize that just the vocals can't carry the whole weight. What follows is a series of good to excellent songs that really make the bulk of the positive about Uit Oude Grond, such as Reuzenmacht and Alvermans Wraak. The more blatantly folk melodies employed, the better Heidevolk become. At this time, the stale, linear riffing of the beginning disappears and gives way to a much better song dynamic. The whole thing ends up a bit short, however, as the album reaches its peak somewhere in the middle and closes with a finish that is just satisfactory.

In conclusion, this is a pretty OK album, even with the fluctuating quality of songs. Some real gems in there, but also some satisfactory and some barely passable material. However, apart from the singing style, Heidevolk don't do anything genre-breaking. Standard viking that doesn't really dare break the mold. For viking enthusiast who want nothing else but a pure, no-nonsense and quite standard example of their chosen genre. For those that wish for something more substantial, however, there are other, better bands out there.

Heidevolk - Uit Oude Grond - 55%

ThrashManiacAYD, April 6th, 2010

The invasion of pagan/folk metal continues unabated, piling in at the exact moment when I have been severely lacking the time to write anything about them, with the result being a bundle of albums that have enjoyed plenty of listening but no time in which to compile a review. For Dutch pagan-folksters Heidevolk this has been of great benefit because on my first couple of listens I hated "Uit Oude Grond"; with extra spins my feelings are no longer quite so spiteful, but as you'll see by the end grading it's still hardly become a favourite of mine.

The problem with "Uit Oude Grond" and many other pagan/folk albums these days is a true lack of individual identity, a fact often coupled with collections of songs that neither inspire anti-Christian range as a true pagan would surely feel, or the natural folk need to stand up and get one's jig on. That Heidevolk, by now on their 3rd album, sing in their native Dutch is an unusual twist from hearing the common tongues of Norwegian or Swedish in this genre, and in this manner with the clean baritone vocals of Joris Boghtdrincker comes Heidevolk's defining and most recognisable aspect. Like I would say the same about German, to an English-speaker the Dutch language feels rather incongruous with the music (unlike the more commonly accepted Scandinavian varieties), but nonetheless Heidevolk deserve plaudits for sticking with it. Boghtdrincker's vocals have the feel of a love 'em or hate 'em vibe, with myself unfortunately leaning closer towards the latter, but it is not this causing my biggest gripe with the album. Across it's 11 tracks the glaring similarity in tone found on most of "Uit Oude Grond"'s songs is difficult to avoid, as is the worrying lack of depth or atmosphere that has (not) been created in a strangely lifeless production. Songs like "Gelders Lied" which possess more than a hint of Falkenbach in their construction desperately miss the vitality and passion that ultimately separates these two acts in the echelons of pagan/folk metal and is something I dare say many bands simply will never have.

Heidevolk manage to hold my interest longer in the faster, more powerful songs of "Vlammenzee", "Dondergod" and "Reuzenmacht" where I sense a greater will to create genre-shattering art, but the uninspired guitars, stuck behind the dominating vocals, ultimately let the side down. If you feel such comments are unjustified after listening to "Uit Oude Grond" yourself I welcome alternate views, but I say this: play a classic of the genre such "Arntor" (Windir) or "Frost" (Enslaved) and then follow this up with Heidevolk. It's men against boys, and surely comparisons against the best are the most suitable way of judging an album's true worth?

For the growing legions who especially appreciate the folkier moments in such albums Heidevolk do bless us with "Levenlots" and "Alvermans Wraak", where they get closest to ever reaching beer-swilling jigging territory, but these are of minor consequence to the structures laying all round it. "Uit Oude Grond" is not without merit, oh no, but such is the slew of albums emerging in this genre in recent years and the level with which I hold the top tier of bands, more than this is required to get me dreaming of the day we all resided in a pagan metal empire.

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