Viking Metal - Soon Will Cease To Be?

Written by: Mindheist
Published: 05.07.2006
Introduction :

I choose these words taken from wikipedia to begin with, ["Viking metal is a cross-genre reference usually used to describe the lyrical and thematic elements of bands rather than the music itself"]. The lyrics usually found on this style are, no doubt, struggling to preserve the dark/sad side of this kind of metal. All began in the 80s, when folkloric stuff emerged with other styles to forge a new opus called "Viking metal" that speaks about Norse mythology and Viking life. Yet, what has set many death/black metal bands among the others since the very beginning is their use of barbaric themes and imagery in lyrics that come near the heavy metal music. And quite naturally, the first forger of this king was Led Zeppelin in "Immigrant Song" (lyrically and a bit musically) when they have gone from the heavy to the Nordic themes in that era. Though, there are more releases that contain these themes as far from the realms of death as you can possibly imagine, that's why many who classify bands say "any band that uses Nordic tales and mythology in their songwriting is definitely a Viking Metal band," but there is a lot of bands under this influences, and this makes classification almost impossible. Furthermore, there are death/black metal bands that make use these elements such as Amon Amarth and Bathory (Blood fire Death, Hammerheart) and even progressive bands etc…should we then classify them as Viking metallers? Okay, maybe in some releases of Bathory that were plenty of different themes (anti-Christian, Nordic, pessimistic, Satanic, Pagan, or occult theme…) we can say that but not to generalize. Although, the Viking metal is a cross-genre that gives importance to lyrics more than the music itself, so it's not a veritable style like the others, it's perhaps, the son of black metal but with some other slayers like swords, daggers, and iron furniture and also some folkloric instruments.

Characteristics:

Well, the most qualified example that could satisfy you is Metal storm, I previously asked Jeff why they don't yet add the Viking metal, he said that we cannot technically classify it as a specific sub-genre with its own aspects and soon it will cease to be. Entirely right, it's merely a sub-genre of debated heavy metal. Yet, the heavy metal contains a huge number of genres ranging from the largely epic death/black metal to the more gory/obscure funeral doom. The thing here is that funeral doom is none other than doom metal but with other literally influences that changed completely its categorization and it was the case of Viking metal which is based on paganism, Viking/folk theme and anti-Christianity. Moreover, the number of bands is growing each day, and each band tries to perform his influences as well as possible, some of these bands gained mainstream prominence. Thus, most of them are Scandinavians (sons of northern darkness). The music is usually plenty with honour and valour yet with faithfulness and epicness in composition similar to Norse/heaven itself but technically its just the heavy/black metal with some folkloric instruments (as I said before).

History:

The old roots of Viking Metal can be traced more or less to 1988 when the Swedish black metaller(s) Bathory released his third record titled Hammerheart. He has incorporated mythical and Nordic themes in both the artwork and the lyrics on Hammerheart. The music had a very special bombastic sound seeing that's the first Viking metal or should I say the first folk/heavy/black metal album in that period. Bathory has released the second and even the third album which inspired the genre and gathered all the elements to create his own style. Otherwise, the father of Viking metal is a well known black metaller.

Classification:

Many of the so-called Viking metal bands including Moonsorrow do not have Viking related themes. However there is a lot of bands which inspire their lyrics from Viking life and deal with them perfectly but are officially classified as black, death or heavy metal. The being said is that defining sub-genres is becoming increasingly hard as many bands continue to evolve refusing the remain within one particular style. So you might have a band today with multiple albums as (Thyrfing, Nebelhorn or Moonsorrow) that might probably be found in different sub-genres. Take "Voimasta ja Kunniasta" or Suden Uni, they are both of them releases of Moonsorrow. However it would be very difficult to classify them under the primary genre that each band is mostly known for. So, classifying albums under only one definitive sub-genre is just ridiculous, yet that is exactly what's happening with a lot of metalzines. Also, Einherjer (R.I.P) if you go to their website you'll see in the front page "The Art Of Viking Metal." However, they are not…ok I can't deny that literally they were but musically they were not, have you seen Einherjer in one track using the flute, strange melodies or weird instruments? No. Moreover, you have the example of Behemoth (it's not a Viking metal band but his example is useful to clear some points) who was a black metal band in 90's and a blackened death metal band since Demigod, why? Because each band won't stop to push the boundaries of his style and then deriving to the other sub-genres (by the year 2010, Behemoth will mix his blackened death influences with some Viking themes and then many shall classify them under an individual style called Viking metal or whatever).

Results:

If we stick on this way, we will have a never ending list of derived sub-sub-genres to deal with and then we will be all lost and confused and the old sub-genres will be surely forgotten such as Viking metal and many others…

Conclusion:

Viking Metal is closely related to Black/heavy metal. It is generally sounding with symphonic elements and choirs. The difference is the containing and subject matter. Viking Metal music is based on ancient Scandinavian folklore in lyrics and music. Despite the freakish vocals it is quite worth-listening and somewhat contagious. Although, it's a sub-genres and then it'll be forgotten soon and with no regret seeing that we are creating a lot of sub-genres rapidly and with full-throttle.

And soon the Viking metal will cease to be…


 
Guest article disclaimer:
This is a guest article, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.




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Torelli - 30.01.2008 at 17:20  
Ah yes, it would be quite odd, but I would welcome the change as I'm personally tired of "with Odin by our side, into battle we go" type of lyrics. Of course there are more clever texts that actually take the norse myths into account rather then writing a glorified battle in Odin's honor, but it would be nice to have atleast one band that goes away from the clichée.

But who am i to judge in lyrical content, when I like to listen to grindcore from time to time? (But thankfully, it has a few acceptions there too )
Promonex - 02.02.2008 at 23:06  
Written by Torelli on 29.01.2008 at 13:25

I will not bitch about viking metal's wereabout, if it exists common pointers or not. But I've two questions that I really want an answer from you viking metal lovers: Can something be viking metal without viking lyrics and can folk metal with viking lyrics just be common folk metal(not viking)?

I associate Viking Metal with the atmosphere, regardless of the lyrics. Finsterforst and Fjoergyn are two bands that don't sing about the Norse pantheon, glorious battles and stuff, but rather about nature and the power it holds - both have that specific VM sound though, Finsterforst more on the Equilibrium side, Fjoergyn (at least their first album) more in the way of Falkenbach. On the other hand Odroerir do sing about the Edda and the Norse pantheon, but don't sound like Viking Metal at all. Unfortunately these pointers will probably be of no use for you as the lyrics of all three bands are in German
Torelli - 02.02.2008 at 23:28  
It doesn't matter if they sing in german, I take that as a bonus. Just the fact that they not have "call to arms" type of lyrics sooth me. No lyrics should define a gengre though... I will check out these examples once the MS awards are over, thanks for suggestions.
Promonex - 03.02.2008 at 01:15  
Written by Torelli on 02.02.2008 at 23:28

I will check out these examples once the MS awards are over, thanks for suggestions.

Don't mind to check them out before the awards are over - in fact Finsterforst are nominated for best folk metal album of the year
Torelli - 03.02.2008 at 16:32  
Then I guess I've to look into them before, don't I? A have a few catagories left before I reach folk metal though...
Janne - 09.05.2008 at 23:42  
Viking Metal was originally folk/black metal but today it has become a style(not a genre!) and it builds genres. Mostly folk or black but sometimes power,death and others. and the lyrics,ancient themes and the atmosphere are important in Viking Metal
Elio - 25.08.2008 at 22:51  
even if Viking will cease to be, who cares, I'll continue listening to it, hell yeah!
LeChron James - 28.08.2008 at 02:36  
i dont think viking metal will cease to be. give it time, some new ridiculous viking metal band will come outta the woodwork somewhere and viking metal will spring up again.
Magatouve - 14.11.2008 at 02:56  
This article was written more than 2 years ago and so far Viking metal doesn't seem to have reached its peak. It is still growing and stimulating other related "styles" (or variations) of folk/pagan metal such as Celtic, Slavic, Oriental, etc. I believe the writer of this article underestimated Viking metal. Nothing lives forever, but Viking metal is still in its prime and will survive for some time.
that dude guy - 13.11.2009 at 20:33  
ODEN WILL BE PISSED:wall::maniac:
blackswan13 - 17.02.2010 at 20:08  
Hammerheat is not Bathory's "third" record
Marcel Hubregtse - 17.02.2010 at 21:46  
Written by blackswan13 on 17.02.2010 at 20:08

Hammerheat is not Bathory's "third" record


I just read the article and I noticed that too.
Hammerheart is album number 5 and released three years after Under The Sign Of The Black Mark (album number three)
Ellrohir - 17.02.2010 at 22:48  
Its like music "experts" saying "metal is dead"...they are saying since 1980 or so...
spiritofvengence - 04.05.2010 at 06:48  
Written by LeChron James on 28.08.2008 at 02:36

i dont think viking metal will cease to be. give it time, some new ridiculous viking metal band will come outta the woodwork somewhere and viking metal will spring up again.


That is my goal, to keep the genre alive...in the even that I find people crazy enough to start a band with me

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