1. Idaslet – ‘Nu Skrider Dagen Under’
And the Winner is… The Best Debut Album of 2023 is in our opinion made by Idaslet.
For none of our voting teammembers this was the best Debut of the year, but three of the four voters thought this was the second best. This resulted in a total of 31 points.
Mark wrote: “I’m never going to get tired of hearing different takes on the Norse and their mythos, and it’s great hearing this sung in Danish. It just feels really fitting. The album nails the required variety in tracks. There are three or four tracks that start with a bouncy accordion or acoustic guitar, sing-song style before going off into the metal realms. The album begins with a wintery and short folk-song intro track but gets into the meat and potatoes with “Ære Oder Dodt”. I couldn’t find a suitable translation, but it’s a banger. Melo-death tones in the beginning and middle, brings out our first taste of the chorus, and introduces us to the vibe and variety of the album. “Spirets Tone” (Spirit’s Tone) does more with the chorus and is the quintessence of their sound. It’s easily my favorite track.
It sets off the pattern for the next few tracks: rhythm-led openings, choruses, throw-the-horns style metal near the end. “I Gården sagte” (“In the farm softly”) slows the pattern down and adds a lovely, memorable chorus. “Kæmpens Ni Spørgsmål” (The Giant’s Nine Questions) is another fun track that starts off like an old folk song and turns into a banger. “Balders død” (Baldur’s Death) and “Ragnarok” are both heart-wrenchingly sad. It shows off Idaslet’s versatility and wraps up the album nicely.
I had a lot of fun listening to this album. It’s bouncy and lively, folky, fun, and heartfelt. 2023’s been a great year for albums, and Idaslet’s debut doesn’t disappoint.”
Congratulations Idaslet with this marvelous prestation!
2. Trollwald – ‘Trollwald’
Trollwald received for their debut-album 30 points. Good job.
It was the best Debut-album according to one of our teammembers.
Although Roberto was he bit confused at first he finally wrote about this album: “Spending two or three weeks to understand what happened to the new sound quality eventually got me used to it. We cannot tell it’s bad although it’s clear there’s been a deep change of course from this point of view. But despite this, Trollwald’s music is still fitting the theme of its ensemble – forests, trolls and wilderness are the fundamental part of this album even though there’s always the more serious part, either the thoughtful lyrics or just that one guitar solo, making Trollwald’s material different than the other Troll-named bands.
In conclusion, although Trollwald’s debut album was not exactly what I expected from them, I cannot say this is disappointing at all. Maybe I just need more time to appreciate it more and more: such albums need more than just one or two listens to understand and enjoy properly. For now I’ll just sit and enjoy Andrey’s beautiful voice without too much thought, as the long-awaited debut from Trollwald is finally real…”
3. Trold – ‘Der Var Engang’
We are entering the Top 3 of our list now and to underline this, we make again a little jump in points.
Trold managed to gather 28 out of the maximum of 40 points.
Mark judged the album well when he said “Wrapping up, this is a strong album, especially for Trold’s debut. It’s aimed squarely at us, the folk metal community, and I genuinely appreciate it. Varied, bouncy, amazing– this is a portent of more great things to come.”
Way to go Trold, we can’t wait for more.
4. Solarcycles – ‘Lunar’
On the fourth place with 26 out of 40 points we find another album which was chosen the best one by one of our team. Strange things happen this year, three voting teammembers find their favourite album outside the top 3. This is one of them.
Mark loved the album of these Dutchies, that was known already. He said in his review: “Solarcycles is a five-member Dutch folk-metal band and, excitingly, Lunar is their first full-length album. Personally, I’ve been looking forward to it for more than a month, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out: folk and rock melding with nature and new-age. It’s somehow very mellow but still manages to kick ass.”
5. Fredlös – ‘Fredlös’
With 25/40 points we find Fredlös at the fifth place.
Where our team was quite unanymous with our no. 7, something peculiar happened with Fredlös. Two teammembers didn’t like it, but the other two thought this was the Best Debut Album of 2023. Can we conclude you’ll either love this album or hate it?
If Stu was still partipating in judging these album this could as well have been our album of the year. He wrote the following on this album: “The music is as epic and melodic as it is brooding and beautiful, but it really is the clean female lead vocals which elevates this album above others in the genre, ranging from ethereal Swedish folk wailing to soaring and powerful Metal crooning. Another interesting touch is the use of male singers as backing and / or co-vocals, which is a masterstroke, flipping the usual order of things on its head and helping to make Fredlös stand out from the crowd with an identity and a sound of their own.”
6. Yarga – ‘Kogda na nebe zhivot solntse’
A small jump in points brings us to Yarga. The band gained 23/40 points.
It was again Roberto who wrote the review and he said: “After the fifth slower track “Леля” there is finally space for the most power-ish part of the album. Sixth and seventh track is where the band gets the fastest with the tempos but still manages to preserve the common folk-and-guitars formula: the band keeps the right balance between both elements even in the fastest moments, and this is what we shall expect from a “folk-metal” band.
Despite its shortness, this is a very well-made album and I sincerely hope it manages to turn cards upside down positively for the band. There are just too many underground metal works and bands that need to be discovered in all their greatness and Yarga is certainly one of them.”
7. Trollgrad – ‘Tales of Gold Fever’
20/40 points brought Trollgrad the 7th place in our Debut Album list this year.
Our team was quite unanymous on this one.
Roberto said the following about it: “The common motif of the Gold Rush is what connects this eclectic artistic roster ranging between more trollish metal in the style of Korpiklaani like “Бабка” and fast rhythm black metal as Черный Ворон. If you’re flexible musically or you’re just keen on all the genres touched you’ll dig the majority of the songs here without problems. Otherwise you may find yourself skipping more than one track and selecting just a few for your listens. Overall that’s not the first album I’d recommend, yet a strange but fine listen for all lovers of folk metal.”
8. Zeitgeist – ‘La voie de l’Atlantique’
At the 8th place we find ‘La voie de l’Atlantique’ the debut of Zeitgeist. The album received at total of 19 out of 40 points. Are you good at math? Then you know it wasn’t at the bottom of everyone’s list. It proves once again opinons vary and we don’t “know it all”. Our reviews are just someone’s opinion. Just to help you to know what’s going on and hopefully give you a small guide to what you should listen and buy.
Mark wrote: “viewing the album as a smaller project, it’s competent. The songs have breaks and changes that give them a little of their own flavor. The keyboard is almost symphonic in places, and the instrumental parts are well-performed. It’s defiant of genre while gentle on the ears.
The album has six tracks, and only two have vocals. “Le marin” (The Sailor) is the strongest track of the two, but loses a little momentum by the end. “Au large de l’Eire” (Off from Ireland) is my pick for best track. The introduction sets the tone, and “Attaché à la hune” (Tied to the Top) shows off some of the symphonic chops mentioned earlier.”
It was a tight race until the last points were counted last year, but Vanaheim was a clear winner. This year there were 8 debut albums to judge. Remember them? It were Fredlös, Idaslet, Solarcycles, Trold, Trollgrad, Trollwald, Yarga and Zeitgeist. You could already read in the reviews what one of our teammember thoughts about the album were. But what if more members would judge it?
This year four members of our team made a list. Votes came in from Italy, USA and the Netherlands. Who will win this year?