1. Baldrs Draumar ‘Magnus’
Baldrs Draumar pulled it off. Grimner managed to receive this title in 2016 and 2018, the first band who managed to get the title twice. Baldrs Draumar did this as well. In 2017 they won this title with their acoustic album ‘Fan Fryslâns Ferline’, this year they released a new Metal album ‘Magnus’ and it was chosen as the best album by again two voting members, but they received a few points more from the rest and they ended up with 40/70 points. Truly a great achievement for an independent band.
“Bone breaking riffs, perfectly placed vocals of primary clean, heavy and choral variety (a lot of really cool choral stuff), driving and tasteful rhythm choices, acoustic instrumentation….I can’t find a single negative. There are a lot of up-tempo tracks on here as well which never sound sloppy or out of control but methodical and well planned. The lyrics are in Frisian, which I still feel is the best choice they have made since switching back after “Forfedres Fortellinger” which was in English. For those of you concerned about the “new” sound do not fret….there is enough of the more familiar mixed in throughout while they branch into some new territory. The overall sound is gnashing and smooth with a subtle bite to the overall sound, both being heavy and inviting at the same time. Let the naysayers be damned for this is Baldrs Draumar at their finest. Lest you think we are rooting for the home team here at the site, I live in the US and know this is the real deal. For those waiting for the next slew of metal albums from whoever in Scandinavia, eastern Europe or the US for that matter, you need only travel to Dokkum on the North Sea to find the best folk metal album of 2019. “
Congratulations Baldrs Draumar!!!
2. Eluveitie – ‘Ategnatos’
The whole folk-metal scene waited a long time for this album. What would it sound like? Would the band stand up and sound as strong as ever? And it’s clear, the new birthling is highly appreciated by the Folk-metal.nl team. Two members thought it the best release of 2019, which contributed to a total score of 37/70 points. Great come-back!
” A couple of things instantly stand out on Ategnatos: First and foremost are the sublime vocals from new clean vocalist/Celtic harp player, Fabienne Erni. I knew she was going to shine after seeing her upstage the rest of the band with her live performance in 2017 and her powerful voice lends the songs an almost Gothic Metal air akin to the likes of Nightwish or Within Temptation. Second is the unexpected, but welcome appearance of some old-school trad metal riffing, such as on Rebirth. Overall, Ategnatos is the sound of a band broadening its horizons and there are times where a more extreme side of the band rears its head, notably on Threefold Death, Worship, and the aptly named, Mine is the Fury. On the flipside of the sonic coin, you have the likes of Breathe – which is this album’s answer to Call of the Mountains – and the brilliant Ambiramus. This mix of the beautiful and the brutal can make for a challenging listen at first, but is rewarding after a few listens.”
3. Borknagar – ‘True North’
For a place in the top 3, 6 more point were added. 35 points for Borknagar’s latest album ‘True North’. The personal favorite of one of the voting members.
” I could gush on for another couple of paragraphs and bore you with a song by song breakdown, but I won’t. The truth is that I want you to discover and explore this gem for yourselves. I’d recommend listening to True North as a whole, but if you want to listen to a couple of songs to get a feel for it, I’d recommend Up North, Thunderous and The Fire That Burns. While no album is truly faultless, I’m finding it difficult not to find anything bad to say about this sublimely beautiful piece of work. “
4. Saor – ‘Forgotten Paths’
Just outside the top 3 landed Saor on the 4th place with the album ‘Forgotten Paths’. 29/70 points.
“Overall, the album has the same hauntingly ethereal feel that is so common in Atmospheric Black Metal releases, but as per usual for Saor’s work, the effect is accomplished using folk instruments in lieu of the keyboards typically used by other bands in the genre.
While the atmosphere is far away from the purely Celtic feel of previous releases like Guardians, for example, the whistles and pipes maintain Saor’s roots. Another exemplary aspect of Forgotten Paths is the instrumental, “Exile”. It runs at four minutes long, a reasonable length considering its quality. … … Luckily, Saor has become one of the atmospheric black metal bands to realize that an instrumental should not run 12 minutes if it doesn’t have enough substance to run that long…”
5/6. Finsterforst – ‘Zerfall’
With an equal amount of points as their German colleagues of Munarheim Finsterforst shares the center of our Top 10 with them. It has been quite a few years since they released their previous full length album, but the result is the one thing that counts. The personal favorite of one of the voting members and 2nd best for another. Good effort.
“This latest effort from Finsterforst is engaging and versatile from start to finish with the shortest song clocking over 8 minutes. Zerfall is not a quick listen that requires certain intent and commitment, for which you are handsomely rewarded with an astounding experience of talented post black pagan metal, complete with complex, well thought-out track structures and magnitudes of layered instrumental atmospheres that finalize an emotionally thematic delivery of mankind’s adversity with nature.”
5/6. Munarheim – ‘Willens & Frei’
One of those albums which didn’t receive a very high rating, but which does deserve a place in this list according to other teammembers. It goes to show, how our reviews are just the opinion of one of the reviewers. Read it, enjoy it, but don’t think we at Folk-metal.nl know it all. 27/50 points, good for a chared place in the middle of our list, and chosen 2nd best album by two members. Striking detail, this two are the ones who can understand German and personally I’m of the opinion the German version of the album is the better one, because the German lyrics suite better for their sound.
“I’ll start with the things I liked about this release, starting with the harsh vocals, which are a definite plus for me and give the songs an air of early Wolfchant / Equilibrium. There are also some very nice melodies to be found throughout the album and it is nothing if not spectacularly bombastic. I can only imagine just how well these songs would transfer to a live setting, preferably at a big European festival such as Wacken or Rock am Ring, but I digress. I freely admit that I was far from won over at first, but ‘Willens & Frei’ is an album which improves with repeat listens. The choral backing vocals, which grated on me at first, started to make more sense the third time around and I actually think they give Munarheim something which makes them stand out from the pack. Conversely though, I think that they need to be scaled back a bit and used more sparingly in future as this would lend them more power and impact as opposed to the predictability of the current song arrangements.”
7. Månegarm – ‘Fornaldarsagor’
Again an album of the Swedish guys of Månegarm in our best album list. This year they scored 23 points and the album was the personal favorite of one of the voting members.
“The violin in for instance ‘Krakes sista strid’ adds a folky feel. Vocals are mainly raw, but understandable. Melodies are folky as well. Most songs would sound friendly when played acoustically. Which the band has done on previous occasions and may do again with songs from this album. Powerful double bass and eruptions of violence add a black metal part. Lyrics are typically about Swedish history, so the pagan angle is there as well. The band feels comfortable singing little harmony parts and stepping off the gas more than once. So there is enough time to catch your breath between the fast, harsh and pounding metal songs.”
8. Elvarhøi – ‘Dansen låter fra graven åter’
We know this one, it’s Folk-metal.nl’s Debut-Album of this year. With 21/70 points they managed to reach this solid place in the overall top 10, very nice job!
“Is is worth mentioning in the Guiness Book of Records when you release your debut-album after 15 years? A now brainer this releasedate, because it’s Elvarhøi’s 15 anniversary. They released an EP in 2006 and besides that 2 singles and a demo, but this is their first full length album.
Despite the fact I won’t advise this schedule to any other band, it can be heard for sure. When you listen to ‘Dansen låter fra graven åter’, you can’t imagine this is an debut. The musicians are not only skilled they obviously know what they want and can achieve this together.”
“This is definitely the best debut-album of 2019 for me personally, despite of the fact it’s solid but not really 100% metal.
Do you like Scandinavian folk, please don’t hesitate to give ‘Dansen låter fra graven åter’ of Elvarhøi a listen. The band and the album truly deserve this!!!”
9. Furor Gallico “Dusk of the Ages”. With 20/70 points Furor Gallico reached the 9th place in our list with their third full length. The album was released in January already, but not forgotten at all.
“Dusk of the Ages, is an exhibition in diversity. The album combines the good elements from, Songs From the Earth, with the proven elements of, Furor Gallico, to produce what is indisputably their best release in terms of songwriting merit. With the new album, not only does Davide Cicalese again transition between clean and harsh vocals at a moment’s notice, but he also sings almost entire songs cleanly. The band has also apparently bought into the idea of having a female vocalist to contrast with Davide’s deeper voice. Folk instruments, especially the violins and Celtic harp have also become significantly more prominent.”
10. Wormwood ‘Nattarvet’.
Wormwood ended up with 18 out of 70 points, a very good achievement.
“Wormwood have taken their musical influences and have blended them together to craft a unique sound which they have then embellished further with distinctly somber and sorrowful Swedish folk melodies to create a style which is all their own. All this makes Nattarvet an album of sublime beauty and quite frankly, there aren’t enough adjectives in the English language to describe just how good it is, so I’ll just use one: Spectacular!”