Folk Metal seems to be one of those sub-genres that breeds some of the most unique and interesting sounding music, with catchy melodies, high energy and creative subject matters, it often leads to listening experiences of boozing, head bobbing and, dare I say in the Metal genre, FUN, and Nordheim’s recent offering certainly fits the bill when it comes to folky, melodic metal oozing with character and FUN.
Hailing from Quebec, their third album release of their career. The band opted for an independent release this time around, unlike their previous album released with Maple Records in 2013, following an indiegogo campaign to fund the project (I wonder if they at least considered a stretch goal to build a sauna…). Nordheim’s always gone for a bit of goofy fun with their musical releases, with album covers depicting trolls, swords, beer, snowmen in Santa hats, and now on this album we are blessed with the godly image of trolls drinking beer, brandishing two handed swords, accompanied by scantily clad women holding guns, whilst riding a raptor in a volcano with a Dungeons and Dragons die for a sun. If this doesn’t set you up for a wild romp of a ride, I don’t know what else will.
In the same vein as the album art, the songs themselves are just as over the top on subject matter, opening the album with the song “Troll Riding a Raptor”, followed by “Boobs and Bacon”, and the single “I Wish You Were Beer”. Musically, the melodies are catchy and memorable, the riffs aggressive and heavy in some sections, and the addition of clean vocals in choruses adds a big, epic, heathen feel to many of the songs that really add a heroic dimension to the album. Songs with a bit more of a tinge of seriousness on the album are well structured and paced, with the musical direction following the lyrical content appropriately, and the light-hearted songs on the album more rambunctious, picking up the pace and raising the energy across the album, with a particular short and sweet number feeling like a beer-laden uber-jig, it oozes with character. The musicianship overall is skillful and well executed, with some fantastic drum work on the album, and the guitars really coming through with dominance.
However, there are sections of one or two songs that suffer a little from jarring riff changes that don’t feel appropriate for the song, almost like the were thrown in there because there needed to be some contrast between the melodic sections, and didn’t transition into them smoothly, like soaring in a fast melodic section only to be yanked right down face first into the pavement of heavy. That’s not to say this approach can’t be implemented successfully, but I feel that it hasn’t been utilized as well as it could have been. This happens only once or twice over the course of the album, and is only a blemish in the songwriting department. Another small quarrel is the production quality of the album. Overall, it sounds good and the recordings of the instruments fine, but there are some tiny imperfections in the guitar work that weren’t polished out, some keyboards don’t sound like they’re present enough in the soundscape, and the bass is a bit difficult to pick out, and seems to be swallowed a bit in the mix. However, given that this is an independent project, these imperfections aren’t a kick in the teeth by any means as a listening experience for an otherwise good album.
I certainly enjoyed this album, and it has what I’m looking for in the Folk Metal sub-genre: melody, originality, and most importantly FUN. For what it is, it’s a solid release, albeit being a bit rough around the edges. Anyone that enjoys this type of music will come away more than satisfied with this album, and I certainly recommend sitting down with a good beverage of your choice and enjoy the boozy, epic, sometimes goofy, but ultimately FUN romp that is Rapthor.