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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.

Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net