It’s grown cold and rainy recently where I live, and that puts me in the mood for folk metal. Falkenbach is one of the very first bands to be described as “Viking metal,” and they were doing the almost-black-metal, almost-power-metal, infused-with-northern-European-traditional-sounds thing back in 1989, a decade before the explosion of folk metal bands, most from European countries, that made this a real genre coequal to the more traditional subgroups of heavy metal. I can recall hearing Falkenbach songs various times throughout the 1990s and 2000s but they never really clicked for me until recently, when I happened to hear this track, “Vanadis,” on Google Play Audio. (The “Folk Metal” radio station on Google is very good, by the way). Not only is this a catchy and fascinating tune, but I just realized that its moody intro is part of the soundtrack of my favorite metal DVD, Armageddon Over Wacken 2003, where it’s played during the final scene as exhausted Wackeners are decamping at the festival’s end. Tremendously atmospheric!

Atmosphere is what folk metal is all about. I’ve long described certain kinds of metal, such as black metal, as sounding “cold.” It seems appropriate to think of it playing while trudging through a snow-filled forest, possibly in medieval Scandinavia. Folk metal clearly has this quality as well. An album like Falkenbach’s Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty, from which “Vanadis” comes, is best enjoyed in front of a fireplace in a cozy little cabin somewhere, perhaps with a drinking horn of mead in hand.

Stay warm this weekend, and Shabbat Shalom! \m/