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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!