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Metsatöll -Ulg lp


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SKU: LP 503df Categories: , ,


Black vinyl with poster

The release of Metsatöll’s fifth album, Ulg, was highly anticipated in their native country, Estonia. It perhaps wasn’t quite so hotly anticipated around the rest of the world, but since the release of Aio, their debut on Spinefarm Records, the band has begun to make greater waves abroad, and with Ulg they look set to continue that progress. Ulg is a record in much the same vein as their previous release, presenting a fascinating blend of Estonian folk music and sludgy, mid-paced metal. The album is a great example of what I consider to be ‘authentic’ folk metal – this isn’t a band treading in the footsteps of others who have previously mixed folk and metal, they clearly have a genuine passion for the music of their homeland and are trying to incorporate that influence into their own style of metal. And, unlike many of their contemporaries in this field, the folk elements of the music don’t dominate proceedings, but are merely complementary to the metal, and as such they provide an added depth to the music rather than taking away from the band’s heaviness. The album does, however, make something of a false start with opening track ‘Agu’, which is a meandering, two-minute acoustic intro that feels repetitive and slightly out of place with little relevance to the music that follows. The real album opener is ‘Söjasuda’, a ferocious number with a driving rhythm section, discordant guitars, and epic vocals. This sets the tone nicely and is a powerful introduction to a powerful album. ‘Kivine Maa’ is probably the most instantly catchy song with its bouncy chorus, easily listenable vocal line, and radio-friendly running time. Having said that, the album is remarkably consistent; no track particularly stands out above the rest and there are no particular weak links either. One criticism that I would make is that the album is very one-paced, finding its groove immediately and differentiating little from the steady, relaxed pace that most of the tracks follow. This could get boring, but just as things begin to feel slightly stale with the rather forgettable ‘Rabakannel’, acoustic number ‘Isata’ freshens things up and provides a little respite. This is immediately followed by ‘Kahjakaldad’, which does up the tempo and also demonstrates the band’s more technical side. Title track ‘Ulg’ is my pick of the bunch, an instantly memorable song with a real anthemic quality to it and a dense, epic feel that recalls Moonsorrow at their best. It provides the perfect conclusion to the album, encapsulating perfectly all that the band was trying to achieve with this release. Metsatöll have created a unique style, with layers of dense guitars and a strong rhythm section with powerful bass lines, creating a richly textured listening experience. The use of a variety of different instruments (including torupill, Jew’s harp, kannel and various flutes) keep things fresh and interesting, as well as making each song distinct. The formula would quickly get tired without the folk elements, the presence of which give each song a distinct identity. These winding folk melodies act as a hook to give each song a central theme, which anchors some of the more disparate elements that the band experiments with. Ulg introduces little in the way of innovation to Metsatöll’s now-familiar sound, but instead represents a solid refinement of that sound, making this their strongest and most consistent release to date. Metsatöll seem to have found a magic formula for creating intelligent, unique folk metal, which frequently surprises and rarely bores, and it is for this reason that they stand out as one of the strongest and most refreshing bands currently on the scene.

Track list:
1. Agu
2. Sojasuda
3. Kuu
4. Muhu Oud
5. Kivine Maa
6. Rabakannel
7. Isata
8. Kahjakaldad
9. Tormilind
10. Ulg
11. Eha

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Blackspin Music

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