The Best Folk / Pagan / Viking Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2017

1.  Myrkur - Mareridt 248
2.  Alestorm - No Grave But The Sea 169
3.  Vintersorg - Till Fjälls Del II 138
4.  Skyclad - Forward Into The Past 25
5.  Forefather - Tales From A Cloud​-​Born Land [EP] 22
6.  Wolfchant - Bloodwinter 21
7.  Helengard - Firebird 19
8.  Trollfest - Helluva 15
9.  Ensiferum - Two Paths (write-in vote) 14
  Eluveitie - Evocation II - Pantheon (write-in vote) 14
11.  Nokturnal Mortum - Verity (write-in vote) 11
12.  Obscurity - Streitmacht 9
  Black Messiah - Walls Of Vanaheim 9
Total votes:

The world's foremost defenders of True Scottish Pirate Metal have returned with more rhapsodies of rum, arias of ale, chansons of champagne, and one joyous jaunt that's even bluer than the sea itself. No Grave But The Sea boasts a bevy of unusual pop tunes, but Alestorm are also prepared to wine and brine you with crustaceous epics of piratical battle. We're living the Golden Age of Piracy, so "Raise the flag and let's set sail / Under the sign of a storm of ale!"

›› Full review...
"Nobody expected anything terrible." It's a delightfully innocuous start to Black Messiah's Asgardian concept album, and one that totally doesn't telegraph the dramatic swells of symphonic black metal that storm in as soon as the narration is out of the way. Walls Of Vanaheim tells a lengthy and epical tale accompanied by suitably lengthy and epical music, lays of strongly folk-influenced black metal garnished with choral echoes, delightfully posh spoken-word tracks, and the odd violin. The album is quite a sizable voyage, but the variety in style (clean and harsh vocals, multiple lead instruments, mutable song structures) keeps the momentum rolling for every last moment.
Rawer than Curse Of The Cwelled and ultimately exhibiting a more adventurous side than we've seen in Forefather for a while, this EP gives us a few classic Forefather tracks, one slightly tongue-in-cheek theme tune, and a couple of curious experiments with softer, more rock- and straight folk-oriented sounds. These tracks are bursting at the seams with the riffs only Athelstan knows how to shred and the strains only Wulfstan knows how to sing. Even as just a half-hour EP, Tales From A Cloud-Born Land is as enrapturing and powerful as competitors with twice the breathing room; let's hope Forefather's next full-length comes anywhere close to this, because they've proven themselves once again the undisputed cyningas of folk metal.


›› Full review...
If you miss hearing metal sounds in Kauan's music, you're in luck, because Helengard is a folk metal duo comprising two Kauan members. As expected, they play less of the jolly, drunken folk metal and more of the doom- and atmospheric black metal-infused type that takes you on journeys through savage landscapes. Scattered through Firebird are short interludes of Russian spoken word, and even though the album is suprisingly short, less is more here.

Myrkur came to prominence as a black metal project, but it's the traditionally influenced side of her sound that stood out the most, and it's that side that Mareridt develops. Mareridt puts a lot more stock in vocal-driven mood-setting and the implementation of uncommon traditional instrumentation; this album is rife with spellbinding dirges and dark, dark neofolk hymns - definitely one of the most aesthetically unique albums in our Awards this year - but that black metal edge is still there, lurking in the shadows, waiting to inject some volume and violence where needed, now with a folkier epic feel.


›› Full review...
Obscurity have the melodic and rhythmic mindset of a melodeath band (let's just come right out and make the Amon Amarth comparison here), with a ragged, malevolent delivery that puts them in far more blackened realms. Streitmacht is here in the folk category, though, and that's all down to the pure Viking soul plundering its way through tracks like "793" and "Streitmacht Bergisch Land." These modes and scales are 100% folk property, and with choruses of layered growls and skeið-sized metal force backing them up, Streitmacht is a powerful contender.
Skyclad, the very pioneers of folk metal, are back! The Brits, reinvigored by old-timer Dave Pugh coming back to the fold, went back to their roots to deliver a mix of the best from both old and new Skyclad. From catchy folky tunes to heavy metal anthems, these folk tales of the modern world showcase all the talent Skyclad are renowned for. Come with us, the way is Forward Into The Past!

It's still difficult to believe that a band like Trollfest could make it to album #7, let alone that their seventh album could be as much haphazard, cartoonish fun as their older material. The absolutely frantic and dangerous saxophone-driven folk blasting of Helluva is the kind of sound that can only be described accurately with nonsensical onomatopoeia; lacking any Trollfest-to-English dictionary at the moment, let's attempt to further clarify that Helluva can be rampaging grindcore, hypercharged sing-along folk metal, and any number of... unorthodox sounds that only masters of the absurd like Trollfest would even think to record. Who knows when it comes to the whats, whys, and hows of this band, but it's a Helluva good time.
Cloaked in crisp, swift, harsh blackness, Vintersorg's tenth full-length is a master class in wintry Scandinavian folk metal. Mr. Vintersorg's distinctive clean choruses, with the help of interspersed whistles and strings, evince traditional roots that pour life and spirit into these songs. Even with a heavier, frostier backbone than most of the albums in this category, Till Fjälls Del II is no less full of infectious melodies and stirring singles; the background synths and progressive tendencies further mold the album into a well-rounded metal album with bite and beauty in equal measure.

›› Full review...
Wolfchant's heroic choruses come in a variety of flavors: operatic, throaty cleans and ripping, blackened growls, executed in either English or German, depending on how fancy strikes the band. In any incarnation, the strong vocal lines enjoy a solid, bolstering counterpart in the instrumentation, a maelstrom that melds furious black and death metal with ostentatious symphony. Most of all, Bloodwinter boasts superb guitar work. Wolfchant feel around all the black, death, and power metal elements that border folk metal, all the while maintaining an avowed devotion to the Germanic spirit of it all.