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Pretty much perfect at what it does - 80%

Noktorn, October 3rd, 2007

To get the most obvious part out of the way, anyone who's into folk/viking metal will most certainly want to acquire this immediately. Based on the material on this demo, this one-man project will soon be going places, and I won't be surprised if/when a label snaps it up pretty soon. Just on the virtue of how professional and well composed everything is, all the folk/viking fans out there will love this, so go out and grab it immediately.

I can honestly say that there's nothing wrong with this release. Oakenshield has really done its homework and is, well, pretty much perfect at what it does. The worst thing I could say about the music here is that it sometimes gets repetitive and that it's not particularly original. It's archtypical folk/viking metal, and doesn't deviate much from the aesthetic. On that note, though, it's about as perfect a representation of that aesthetic as you'll ever get. Cues are taken from bands like Die Saat and the larger names in the style, and with a similar level of professionalism and songwriting. The production is flawless and crystal clear, all the playing is perfectly done, and the songwriting is engaging and interesting throughout. The music is very layered, with lots of dramatic keyboard backing and lead guitar spiralling every which way.

There's a lot of very cool, if rather typical, elements on this release. There's a very cool usage of choir vocals in the Die Saat style, and the riffing, while generally quite simple, is very effective at generating ambiance while the leads do the talking. Vocals are a throaty black metal rasp that is quite well executed, while the drumming, though machine-produced, is well programmed and not distracting in the least. I like that the demo doesn't waste any time with intros, outros or interludes: it's pure metal from back to front and never uses any filler material. I'd say that as far as bang for your buck goes, this demo is better than most full-length albums from much more well-known artists.

What defines whether you'll enjoy this or not is purely a question of whether you like the modern folk/viking style or not, because it falls exclusively within such a paradigm. If you've ground your Falkenbach albums to dust from overplaying, you'll obviously want to pick this up immediately. If your tastes lean more towards Disgorge, probably not. I personally enjoy it a good bit; I think it's somewhat too easy on the ears and accessible, but I'll be the first to admit that this isn't my general style of music. That's probably a plus for most others, though: this demo is remarkably easy to listen to and remains memorable long after its running time has elapsed, and its professionalism and overall quality is second only to the very largest artists in the genre. It's an obvious release to acquire. So on that note, go for it.