Heidevolk – “Vuur Van Verzet” (Napalm Records)
If you thought that Gelderland was a mythical place from a Heath Ledger movie then think again, not only does it exist even today, but it’s also the home to Dutch folk metallers Heidevolk, whose name is inspired by the forested Veluwe area of that province! As you can imagine, its the stuff of warrior legends and ancient culture which defines Heidevolk’s releases and this 6th album is indeed no different. With an album cover befitting its battlefield title that literally translates into ‘fire of resistance’, opener ‘Ontwaakt’ means ‘awaken’ and tells the tale of how the tribes of the northern lands rose against the crumbling Roman Empire to take back the territories that were once theirs! Over the course of 11 stirring tracks, Heidevolk combines metal with its trademark dual male vocals, a 24 piece male choir, various folk musicians, a string ensemble and the raw guest vocals of Primordial’s Nemtheanga to tell tales of ancient folklore, nature and of course the gods!! From ‘A Wolf In My Heart’ with its epic singalong chorus this is passionate for pagan warriors as the testosterone overflows from deeply moving music combining moving strings with a ballsy back beat and alternating soulful n gruff vocals. On ‘The Alliance’ powerful sword slashing guitars meet with dull thudding drums before the pace quickens through faster riffing and double bass drumming creating an opera like atmosphere as delicate fiddles add mesmerizing beauty to this moving pagan gathering. In complete contrast is ‘Yngwaz Zonen’ that consists of tribal drumming and solo vocals but backed by the full force of the 24 piece choir which takes on Stalinist slavic dimensions in its sung chorus – definitely one for label mates Arkona to join in! Switching on the folk metal in ‘Tiwaz’ the pace ups into a dance melody through the raw guitar riffs backed by double bass injections amid a passionate warrior chorus while on ‘Woedend’ the twin baritone vocals really do the trick while the double bass beats actually drive the song through alternating rhythms and tempos – excellent! Closing with the slow but emotionally charged ‘Het Juk der Tijd’, acoustic guitars meld with fiddles as the warrior harmonies come in before powerful twin guitars build the tale climatically before a powerful melody closes off the tune and ultimately this amazing spiritually stirring album. All I can say is “Vuur Van Verzet” will not leave you untouched!