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Monday, July 30, 2012

Guardians of Asgard (Mighty Lambchop's Heavy Metal Nails #11)


Good morning! 

Today we will be talking about Viking Metal. It's a rather interesting subgenre considering it spans a few different styles of metal. Viking Metal was initially an offshoot of Black Metal.
Essentially, Viking Metal is loaded with Viking imagery and the lyrical content often relies heavily on the Eddur, the poems and tales of Norse mythology. Given that Vikings have been immortalized as noble savages, you can see how that would appeal to extreme metal bands.
In the 1990s, many bands of the Scandinavian Black metal scene eschewed Satanism and instead began to embrace Norse Paganism. Bathory has been largely credited with founding this wave of Black Metal with the Hammerheart album.

Soon after Viking Metal began to spread. In the early days, the sound was typical Black Metal plus keyboards and a slower tempo. Then bands began adding elements of Nordic folk music. And this is where things became even more interesting. There has been some controversy with rise of Viking metal however. There are some bands who have seized upon it to further their fascist and racist propaganda and this has caused some problems. A lot of bands have been falsely accused of such views because of their use of some Nordic runes and imagery. Given that the Nazis co-opted a lot of the same imagery, the association has been negative.

The band credited as the first fully formed Viking band was Enslaved.

Enslaved
Image via: brooklynvegan.com

Enslaved formed in 1991 in Norway. At the time they had a very traditional Black Metal sound with a healthy dose of Viking lore. Enslaved were also one of a wave of bands from Norway that eschewed writing and performing in English. They are now more of a progressive band and prefer to be labelled Extreme metal rather than confining themselves to Black metal.
Enslaved was highly influential in the burgeoning Viking metal wave, spawning many imitators but making the case for being one of the best around.

My picks for Enslaved:
Vikingligr Veldi
Frost
Isa - Part of the progressive shift but really well executed.


Viking Metal soon ascended its strictly Black metal roots as bands began to incorporate more traditional folk elements to their music. One of the newer and exciting bands of this genre is the band Tyr.

Image via: www.tyr.fo

Tyr formed in 1998 in the Faroe Islands. The fact that they came from  a chain of islands that is halfway between Iceland and Norway is pretty remarkable in itself. (Admit it, you prolly never even heard of the Faroe Islands before.)
Tyr is a part of the rise of Folk Metal . Tyr's lyrical themes are devoted almost entirely to old Nordic lore, history and mythology. The band is heavily influenced by Faroese traditional music.
Folk Metal has become increasingly more popular over the past few years and it's a style that is ripe for the Viking lore.

I highly recommend the Ragnarok album. It's pretty rad.

(Ed. Note: A quick discussion of Folk Metal. The genre developed in the 1990s adding folk music influences and often traditional folk instruments. It's not a genre I'm personally all that fond of. Stellar examples are Tyr, above and Skyclad. What can I say? Most of it makes me think of the Renaissance Faire and SCA gatherings. Not my scene.)

Now, we come to my very favorite band of the genre.


Amon Amarth is a melodic death metal band from Sweden. The band really dislikes the Viking metal tag. No, they are not playing pagan folk music and I think it wrong to think Viking Metal is all about folk music being mixed with metal. My personal definition of Viking Metal puts them here. Sorry, Johan!
Suffice it to say, Amon Amarth writes about Norse mythology and Viking lore. And they do it very, very well.
I've briefly talked about the band before when I posted a silly Dr. Suess inspired poem HERE.

Anyway. Amon Amarth's sound has developed over the years from a rawer Death Metal style to a much more melodic style. The band has become enormously successful over the years and continues to be a staple of the summer festival circuit of Europe.

My picks for Amon Amarth:
I'm a bigger fan of their more melodic sound so...With Oden On Our Side to the present, Surtur Rising.
I do love The Avenger and The Crusher, both albums reinvigorated my interest in Death Metal.

So, what did I do for the nail art?

Runes To My Memory 

 Index finger: Rune for Thor
Middle: Rune means "One of the Aesir"
Ring finger: Rune for Tyr


Here is what I did:
Base is China Glaze Argo. (Review to come, I have something to say about it.)
Sponged with Orly Buried Alive and Solid Gold.
I did the runes with Orly Glitz and Kiss Nail Artist Pen in black.

I am so disappointed in my index finger. I re-did it three times and it simply wouldn't come out well. I gave up and went with it. However, I love the green, gold and brown sponged together. It's a great look and could be a great bit of fall nail art. 

So there you have a brief report on Viking Metal. I thank you for coming by and hope you enjoy your day.

Other "Viking" bands to check out:


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