Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Screams from the Baltic battleground - 80%

Felix 1666, June 4th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2000, CD, Mascot Records

"Latvian Riflemen" must be deemed as the most direct full-length of Skyforger. The nightmarish cover does not only indicate the cruelty of war. It is simultaneously an omen for the pretty brutal overall impression of the musical content. I concede that the folkloric elements are not completely marginalised. For example, the band has chosen one of these fragile melodies for the beginning of "Battle of Plakani, Battle of Veisi" and the vocals of "Death Island" follow the more or less heroic approach that these long-bearded pagan bands usually use. Nevertheless, Skyforger have put the focus on a proper mix of thrash and heavy metal that does not lack of gruesome vibes. This decision is simply consistent, because the warlike concept of the lyrics and the almost romantic love of nature are mutually exclusive.

Songs such as the highly explosive "The March of 1916" illustrate the violent path of the formation. Hammering drums, straight guitars, a modicum of melodies and the unpitying nagging of the lead vocalist take the audience to the front line. The listener is confronted with the smell of powder, the filth of the disturbed ground, the blood of the fallen comrades and his own cold sweat. Of course, the apocalyptic scenario is described from a Latvian perspective and it seems as if each and every soldier of the Baltic country has been a true hero ("The Siberians flee, but Latvians still stand!"). In this respect, it comes as a surprise that the German Empire won the war in the East. Anyway, the primal catastrophe of the 20th century did not produce a great number of winners. Skyforger's music expresses the tragic of the European mass suicide. Especially the grinding "In the Tirelis Swamp" illustrates the hopelessness of the soldiers and cements the feeling of no escape. "Be Like a Man" points on the same direction, especially its instrumental part which combines sharp guitars with melancholic lines. The crude mixture of personal pain, national pride and mortal fear is well captured by the band.

From the beginning to the end of the album, Skyforger do not present any sloppy tracks. Instead, they guarantee a solid quality level. The guitars are very dominant and create a dense atmosphere without delivering stale riffs or vapid leads. "Latvian Riflemen" was recorded by a guy called Lundberg and the band itself. In my opinion, this team has done a good job. On the one hand, the vigour sound does not kill the emotions that the music evokes. On the other hand, it shines with the necessary degree of robustness and stability. Hence it follows that pure metal lines like those at the beginning of "Six Days of Madness" come into their own. By the way, this song bundles the main features of this album, the metallic compactness, the dramatic concept, the brave attitude of its protagonists and, during the second half of the tune, the murderous intensity of the battles. No doubt, thumbs up for an autonomous full-length without any serious shortcomings.