Monday, 18 August 2014

Sleipnir - Oaths Sworn In Blood And Mead

Gardarika Musikk 2013
1.Hail the Heathen Hordes of Midgard (Sworn to the Hammer of Thor)
2.Blood on the Sword 3.Farewell (To a Fallen Brother)
4.Oaths Sworn in Blood & Mead 5.The Blood & the Bones (Once We Were Kings Pt II)
6.What the Runes Fortold
As the album art states, “Sleipnir play epic Viking metal” and as ‘Hails to The Heathen Hordes Of Midgard’ opens up in massively grandiose fashion, this statement is already ringing true. Huge keyboards and horns introduce this second full length album in magnificent splendour, acting as an introduction really as it’s not until the four minute mark that the guitars, drums and vocals are introduced. Musically there is so much on offer with this opener, it is definitely Viking Metal with the obvious back metal leanings. The epic and majestic themes continuing brilliantly, vocals chants are mixed with a harsher, snarled style which when mixed sound very effective. Not your classic style of screamed black metal vocals however, which actually works in its favour. The song is broken up into sections by re-introducing the epic keyboards which sound huge, immense and hauntingly atmospheric. At over 12 minutes long, it shows a statement of intent and gives a good idea of the what’s to come in the remaining five tracks. ‘Blood On The Sword’ follows on in a similar grandiose fashion, although this time round the band chose to push the guitar based Viking metal to the front, the keyboard elements taking a back seat, but not for long however. As with the opener, keyboard sections are introduced at certain points to break the song up nicely and add an air of majesty. What also works well here is the mix of paces introduced. We finally hear the band really open up and sound more ‘black metal’ than they have done so far, harsh guitars accompany faster blast beat drumming that are both backed up by atmospheric keyboards. Clocking in at 11:30 this is another monster of a song, not that you really notice! There is so much variation and the songs are so full of splendour that the song lengths become utterly irrelevant.
‘Farewell (To A Fallen Brother’) oozes haunting melodies and a devastatingly morbid passion that is definitely an ode to fallen comrades. If ever a song title was summed up by the music perfectly, then this is the song to do it. Utter brilliance. Fans of Bathory, (older) Enslaved, Thyrfing etc will understand the band! Rather than breaking the song up with keyboard sections, atmospheric acoustic guitars and spoken vocals lines are used, again, to great effect. It all just adds to the atmosphere, especially when the band break from these sections and re-introduce the faster, harsher, more ‘black metal’ sounding sections. ‘An Oath Sworn In Blood And Mead’ follows on seamlessly, keyboards ending the previous track and introducing this one, as ever, in a morbid and atmospheric fashion. The bands ability to keep the listener engaged is what really works well here as they have so much to offer, working each element into every song to maximum effect as is heard here. Everything being put to good use, mixed and matched so well to create another truly epic piece of music. Hints of Abigor creep in slowly here, only hints though! The two remaining tracks ‘The Blood And The Bones’ and ‘What The Runes Fortold’ are again, absolute monsters that incorporate each and every element of the band’s music, albeit in even more atmospheric and dare I say ‘catchy’ fashion. There really does seem to be sorrow ‘etched’ into every song on this album (and having read Darklords thanks on the album, it becomes apparent just why his work is filled with sorrow and how uses that loss to create such chilling and haunting atmospheres). It’s only every so often that an album of such brilliance really takes you to another level when listening to it, but that’s exactly what happens with ‘Oaths Sworn In Blood And Mead’. It quite literally draws you in and takes you on a journey you probably weren’t expecting. Sleipnir really have created an album a cut above the rest, certainly in terms of UK releases, if not the genre as a whole. Massive in both terms of length and atmosphere, it’s another fine example of UK extreme metal at the top of its game and this release comes as highly recommended as possible and is a cd you must own if you’re a fan of Viking Metal -  to not own it is an absolute travesty!
9.5 Out Of 10
Buy It: Here

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