Metsatöll - Karjajuht review


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Band: Metsatöll
Album: Karjajuht
Release date: March 2014

01. Külmking
02. Lööme Mesti
03. See On See Maa
04. Must Hunt
05. Terasest Taotud tee
06. Öö
07. Tõrrede Kõhtudes
08. Metslase Veri
09. Surmamüür
10. Mullast
11. Karjajuht
12. Talisman

It's bands like Metsatöll that are exceptions to the currently dwindling state of folk metal. Less and less bands seem to be springing out of the woodwork to present anything particularly unique or individual and thankfully Metsatöll are there for fans as they maintain their distance from this trend, and continue to colourfully folk up the scene with their latest album Karjajuht.

With folk metal in the state that it's in, if there's to be any renewal of the genre this isn't the time for games or thoughtless tunes. Though that's not to say Metsatöll aren't in this for the enjoyment of it all as their tunes really are packed full of energy, and on the other hand they aren't out for any points for glamorising their folk metal either. On album this Estonian group perform with an uncompromising perhaps even brash attitude that avoids the generic as they maintain their distinctive identity. This underlying personality in their music is most especially conveyed vocally, as well as being embedded in the instrumentation of Estonian folk origins.

Each track, generally delivered in up-tempo succession, is written with a particular flavour of the band's own mixing, which goes a long way in distinguishing them from the pack. Appropriately the name for their latest album means "Pack Leader" in English, as their dominating sound leaves many generic styles for dead and they present a formidably unique presence. Karjajuht is direct and bears enough of an impact within the genre to noticeably represent qualities which are enviable of other acts. A convincing balance is something they establish between their authenticity and their frivolously folky nature.

This is the "jam all the heavy riffs in there and hit the ground running" kind of folk metal. So what does that mean? Well basically what I'm getting at is that Karjajuht is energetically pumped heavy metal with the credible tempering of Estonian folk music, with the former taking prevalence on this particular album in comparison with prior efforts. In practice in an album format, this blend gives them a certain core integrity, which makes them laudable over the number of hopeful bands out there that just can't get their musical identity in shape without resorting to a dependency on the set standards of the genre.

If a band throws any folk instrument into metal insubstantially or with little understanding of how said instrument functioned and was used in its traditional context, and how to bring this tradition convincingly enough into a metal context, then you a get an exemplar of generic folk metal. This isn't a problem for Metsatöll, who demonstrate how to legitimately incorporate folk music into their heavy metal, not as an entry level gimmick, which seems to have long lost its lustre in the eyes of many metal fans, but as an integral and enhancing part of their sound. This gives them a clear sense of identity, aided by the lyrics in their native tongue.

What's more they do it in a style which would likely appeal to fans of the more light-hearted side of the genre. In this case it was a good initiative to have Korpiklaani's vocalist Jonne Järvelä as a guest on the track "Lööme Mesti," to further point out that they're just as fun-loving and lively in character as much as they are genuinely appreciative of their homeland's folk music traditions.

For sure this album isn't as immediately accessible or as polished as your Korpiklaani types, although it is catering to similar tastes. Give it some time and its often rough and ragged exterior will reveal that such is all part of the charm, with their inner strength coming from cleanly and enthusiastically sung lyrics which manage a convincing connection with the use of traditional Estonian instruments. Karjajuht is a fine piece of folk metal that proves that there are still outfits out there upholding the genre's strengths.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Production: 8


Written on 18.03.2014 by R'Vannith enjoys music, he's hoping you do too.


Comments: 1   Visited by: 9 users
02.10.2016 - 19:02
Great album and nice to see a review of it on here. I agree this is less "folk" metal and more of a traditional metal album with sprinkles of folk. Probably one of their best ones (I'm still a sucker for Iivakivi). Metsatöll are still one of the most interesting/original (folk) metal bands around.

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