- Band(s): Bergsvriden
- Label(s): Northern Fog Records
- Release Format(s): CD
- Release Year: 2022
- Review Date: April 22, 2023
- Author(s): Colin McNamara
Bergsvriden is the ‘more active side project’ of some of the members of Swedish Folk/Viking Metal group Midvinterblot. For those who know Midvinterblot, some traces of their music can be found here, but this is mostly a taste of what the band would sound like if it was more Black Metal influenced compared to the other genres. Comprised of ‘Trollpung’ on main vocals, ‘Trollmania’ on guitar, drums, and added vocals, and ‘Oltomten’ on flute, bass, and even more vocals, expect this to be a rich listen without the ‘kvlt’ minimalistic tones a lot of Black Metal fans enjoy. While not as lush as Dimmu Borgir, there a certain level of melody to the music and comparisons that can be made to mid era Finntroll and even a little bit of Cradle of Filth, but not nearly as gothic toned. Like Midvinterblot, Bergsvriden’s latest album ‘Gastkramad’ starts out slow and Folk tinged with piano and acoustic bits before leading into ‘Varghamn’ which is pretty much the bread and butter formula for the group. All harsh vocals across of different ranges from the low snarls to higher shrieks (some recognizable from Midvinterblot) but no clean Viking/Folk chants or anything like that. The instrumental work is very upbeat in that Melodic Black Metal fashion very similar to Finntroll- but not quite as ‘polka’ driven. Altogether, it comes together nicely in a mid paced package without too much abrasiveness, so those who are not used to Black Metal in general but are used to Folk/Viking Metal will find it appealing (it’s not like they’re being thrown a Sargeist album to really unnerve them).
Much of the lyrics are based on folktales and snarled in various languages from Norse to Swedish to Danish, so not much English to delve into (but that is what Google translate is for). Other tracks like ‘Den vita fruns klagosång’ are a little more Cradle of Filth tinged especially with the wailing backing vocals that will recall listeners of the Sarah Jezebel Deva early days, but at the same time this track is also a bit more ‘Black Metal’ than Folk and the presence of the accordion and flute is a little more buried or lost in the mix compared to some of the earlier tracks. But even on tracks like these the pace is still rather foot stomping, almost ‘drinking song’ pace, especially like the following ‘Skarvbergets vrede’ which thumps along with percussive thunder and yes, backing chants for more of a Viking Metal feel. These kinds of tracks are going to sit the best with those who ride the line between the genres and while some might think the Black Metal elements of Bergsvriden is too harsh compared to Midvinterblot, tracks like these make it easier to accept the difference versus being completely turned off.
There are more folk interludes to soften things up such as ‘En ruskig liten visa’ but this compared to some of the others feels more avant-garde and all over the place in its tone, kind of like an Arcturus album. It doesn’t quite flow in the Folk style the way the opening track does, but still adds a bit of randomness and something different, even if it is a respite from the Black Metal side of the music. Overall, ‘Gastkramad’ is a fun listen, which is a bit of an oxymoron for those who take Black Metal a bit seriously and feel it should be ‘anything but fun.’ Compared to other releases from the band, it pretty much falls in line with what they’ve been doing since 2015 with the debut EP. So those that love their rather ‘wacky’ take on Black Metal will still enjoy it, and those looking for a Black Metal album that defies normal conventions of the more popular artists out there will really find it enjoyable.
Northern Fog Records
- Country: Germany
- Style: Black Metal
- Links: Homepage, Instagram, Youtube