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Heidevolk : Velua : Metal albums reviews

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Heidevolk : Velua, brief review

Heidevolk : Velua

Band name: Heidevolk

Of the many folk releases coming out in 2015, I was most familiar with three groups: Ensiferum, Svartsot, and Heidevolk (Enslaved doesn’t count). So far, I have found myself much more impressed with this year’s newcomers than the veterans. Ensiferum was fun, but more of the same. Svartsot showed growth, but lacked energy. Given that Heidevolk has always sat around the bottom of the barrel for me, I went into this album without much expectation. But while my mind may not have been blown, I was nevertheless impressed with the amount of improvement these beefy Dutchmen have made with Velua.

First and foremost, I am pleased to say that the guitar work continues to improve with this release. The usual basic chord melodies are broken up with some very Gothenburgesque (Gothenburgian?) picking and palm-mute patterns. There are even some decent solos as on “Herboren In Vlammen.” That having been said, Heidevolk is still far from reaching the enthralling shredding of peers like Ensiferum. As for the other instruments, the drums deliver a variety of styles from basic beats and double bass to some neat slower bridges and plenty of tom fills. Folk instrumentation is sparing, but present. There are some excellent strings and acoustic guitars scattered throughout. I particularly enjoyed them on the moody “Urth” and “Het Dwalende Licht.”

But the most obvious point of discussion for Heidevolk has always been their trademark vocal approach. Yes, the manly dual harmonies that make their music instantly recognizable are still very much intact. I have had a love-hate relationship with them since the first time I listened to their early albums. On the one hand, they were, and still are, fairly unique in comparison to other folk metal groups. The melodies are catchy and the technique is strong. On the other hand, it certainly wears over time. The lack of range and differentiation frequently results in boredom.

However, I give Heidevolk credit where it is due. With the previous album, Batavi, I was concerned that they would bend to the will of the masses and incorporate more growls for the sake of sounding more “extreme.” While it is true that I tend to prefer extreme vocals, I appreciate that with Velua Heidevolk maintains a level of honesty that was absent from the previous outing; trading darkness for a more lush celebration of heritage. And honestly, I am not sure that screaming is what is missing here. Branching out from the folky chanting into different octaves, maybe incorporating some female guest additions, breaking up the album with some instrumental tracks: these are all things that could push Heidevolk to new heights without abandoning their core sound.

Final word: very good track for track. If I were shuffling these songs with my other folk favorites, I would be more than happy to listen to any of them. Furthermore, I would venture to say that this is Heidvolk’s strongest release to date. Compositions are full of windswept imagery and reach some epic heights without overdoing it (as is the case some of the longer tracks on One Man Army). Instrumentation is stronger than ever, as apparent with the intro to “Richting De Wievenbelter.” Unfortunately, as an album the vocals still wear me down quite a bit. Heidevolk is moving in the right direction, but they have yet to create something that is enjoyable from start to finish.

Album: Velua, review

The bands country origin: Netherlands

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