The Swedish Metal scene is well known for the excellent melodic Metal acts that came out of there – In fact, the association is so strong that if a metalhead hears that a band is from Sweden, he will probably expect to hear some high quality melodic Death Metal. And if the band in discussion happens to be Norrsköld, the metalhead will definitely not be disappointed, since their latest EP, entitled “Ridden”, is indeed a fine piece of melodic atmospheric Metal.
Actually, mentioning Norrsköld as a typical Swedish metal band doesn’t really do justice for them. While the listener at this point would probably expect either fancy and epic Death Metal like In Flames or Soilwork, or more gothic stuff like the last Tribulation album, or maybe viking-themed metal such as Amon Amarth – Norrsköld doesn’t fall into any of these stereotypes. Their music combines elements of Black and Death Metal with folk themes, and in spite of its minimalism, successfully makes the listener submerge into its interesting and dark atmosphere.
The lyrical themes in Norrsköld songs are based on old tales and historical beliefs, that were common among the countryside people back in the days. The entire concept is supported by their stage appearance- The look of farmers from the pre-industrial times – And, of course, by their music that creates a dark and mysterious atmosphere. The folk atmosphere is emphasized even more in the last song on the “Ridden” EP, which is a Swedish traditional song, that tells a story of a fiddler who had enchanted villager youngsters by playing them an enchanted melody on his violin. He forced them to dance to his tunes all the way to the top of the Harga mountain, where they danced and danced until they worn out their shoes and heels, and died eventually.
The music on the “Ridden” EP is pretty raw, with very minimal use of keyboards and effects. It features intense drumming with extensive usage of double bass, dark melodic guitar riffs with plenty of tremolo picking, and death-metal style deep growling vocals. The EP also features two purely instrumental tracks: one of them is acoustic, and though it is more quiet, it still carries the dark atmosphere of the EP.
From a technical perspective, the production and performance on the EP is done very well – The guitar sound is tight and every note is clearly heard, the drums sound is massive and precise, the bass can be heard well, and in general, the mix sounds massive and every instrument sits in its right place. Norrsköld seemingly favored the modern production over the “Recorded through headphones in a cave” style sound, which is common among bands in a similar genre, and it definitely compliments their music.
As most of metal music, and Folk Metal in particular, is filled with cliche and concepts that have been constantly repeated, coming across something refreshing that hadn’t been chewed over and over doesn’t happen every day. Norrsköld is definitely one of those rare cases in which a band manages to take a genre- in which it seems like everything that could have been done was already done- and bring something refreshing and interested into it.
A highly recommended listening!
– Timur Sizov