Heidevolk – “Velua” (Napalm Records)
Heidevolk are a pagan folk metal from Gelderland in the Netherlands. Over the course of years they’ve made quite an impression being a summer festival favorite where their epic, medieval style has won many audiences over – and even if none of them can understand Dutch they’re certainly singing it by the end of the set ha ha! With their last album going back to the Roman Empire and its Rhineland conquests, this fifth album returns Heidevolk much closer to home – to De Veluwe in fact – a beautiful woodland region in the Netherlands that has spawned numerous myths and legends over the centuries that the band has used for their material here. With the powerful male vocal duo of Mark Bockting and Lars Vogel leading the barbarian hoards in a mixture of clean, harmony as well as pagan and growling styles, Reamon Bloem and Kevin Vruchtbaert pile in the epic riffs amidst heaps of folk harmonies very much in the sombre medieval style as opposed to the more trendy knees up in the hobbit’s inn! Backed by heavy warrior singalong choruses, there’s also plenty of folk fiddles and even some subtle orchestral arrangements including wailing femme soprano vocals echoing in the distance that bring a strong anthemic theme to songs like ‘In Het Diepst Der Nacht’ which paints a dark picture of goblins whilst ‘Winter Woede’ tells the tale of forgotten soldiers who became brigands, robbing the rich on the eerie ‘coffin’ road in the pale moonlight – cool! As a bonus they offer an English sung track in ‘Vinland’ that pays reverent tribute to Leif Erikson’s journey to North America 1,000 years ago and is dedicated to their growing US fanbase. With a deep and powerful atmosphere throughout, “Velua” tells the dark tale of this ancient region magnificently and in fact, actually brings it all to life on this spell bounding album – classic Heidevolk!