Roundtable album review: Wolfhorde – Towards the Gates of North
Posted by ChristopherMammal
Label: Inverse Records
Release Date: 22 January 2016
Length: 45 minutes
Genre: Folk Metal
Studio Albums: Deathknot (2010), Nyvinland (EP, 2012)
Location: Keuruu, Finland
Reggie – Overall, not a bad album. While I didn’t find anything that stood out so much that it made me hit the repeat button, there are some cool songs that blend a pleasant mix of pretty folk moments with some crushing thrashy rhythms. Put it all together and it’s an ok album with some better moments than others. 2.5
RiffRaff – All in all Wolfhorde deliver solid folk metal that is never offensive to the ears nor outright bad. However just being competent isn’t enough to garner a recommendation from me. While contemporaries like Moonsorrow, Eluveitie or Finntroll have that something extra that makes their rehashing of the same Northern European folk melodies feel new and exciting there is really nothing here that pops and makes Wolfhorde’s music stand out to me. “Towards the Gates of North” does have a few great moments and songs, but not enough to get me to actively want to give it repeat listens. If you’re starved for a new folk metal record you could do a lot worse, but don’t expect anything more than a bit of fun drinking metal here. 2.5
Irmelinis – Wolfhorde’s Viking music is leaning much more towards Finntroll than Borknagar, with touches of power and thrash metal. The best moments can be heard during the instrumental parts. Unfortunately the vocals are a weak point and together with a muddy and thin sound this album lacks a real impact on the ears. “Towards the Gates of North” is all right for a debut release, though for me it’s more of a moment of light-hearted fun (nothing wrong with that) than a seriously enjoyable listen. 2.0
ChristopherMammal – Here comes the minority report, which isn’t unusual from me. Wolfehorde have delivered an album that is far from being just another folk metal album. It’s an extremely intelligently composed and performed set of rich and varied songs. The overall feel is mostly like epic folk black metal, but there is a delightful mix of other styles as well. Some passages are like serenades. Others are like fiery martial music. The traditional and modern instruments fuse together with seamless harmony, and there are more than a few codas that would fit perfectly well in an excellent symphonic classic rock album.
Two elements of the performances stand out for me. The first is the effective black metal practice of submerging the vocals somewhat into the backing to create a layer of sound in which the vocals become as much a musical instrument as a vehicle for transporting the lyrics. I hear this as a very deliberate production technique, not as a lack of balance in the sound. The second powerful element is the drumming. It’s such a pleasure that I’ve listened through the album just to hear how, where and why the drumming varies. The guy with the sticks is a prodigy.
Overall, one of my key criteria with new music is how much I want to listen to it again. I’ve played this album five times so far and it’s beautifully refreshing every time. 4.5
A Metal State of Mind Score – 2.9 out of 5