Viking metal has been, for most of my experience with metal as a whole, one of my favorite genres of metal ever. Typically it consists of folk, power, death, and black metal, with common lyrical themes being war, glory, Norse mythology, and (sometimes) alcohol. Some “Viking” metal bands lean more towards Celtic culture, mythology and history, or that of other pagan folks.
I assume most of you have not dabbled in Viking metal. Generally, heavy metal is not one of the most accessible genres, so I hope to give everyone a taste of metal glory. Whether you want to power through your homework or hype yourself up for some exercise, Viking metal is the way to go. Give this stuff a try; though it definitely isn’t for everyone, I’m sure at least some of you will love it.
“Eldhjärta” (Fireheart): Grimner
“Jag skall aldrig ge vika, här står jag fast och i hjärtat brinner elden vilt.” (“And I will never waver, here I stand fast and in my heart the fire wildly burns.”)
Named for one of Odin’s many disguises, Sweden’s Grimner is deeply engrossed in the glory and pride of Viking culture. Though “Eldhjärta” is easily their most popular song, they have been quite prolific this year. Even from the intro, this song is groovy and enjoyable, with a clean and harsh vocalist and gorgeous folk instrumentals.
“Trollhammaren” (The Troll Hammer): Finntroll
“Trollhammaren! Svepen igen! Hugga ned, broder igen!” (“The troll hammer sweeps again! Chop down, brother again!”)
Finntroll is a charmingly weird band. Though they are from Finland, their lyrics are in Swedish for a more troll-like effect. They use a Finnish style of polka in their upbeat death metal songs to create what the band affectionately calls “trollish hoedown metal.” Finntroll is always fun to listen to, and the intro to “Trollhammaren,” especially, is excellent.
“Fields of Gold”: Turisas
“Firmly we keep our course, fighting through fields of gold!”
Named for a Finnish war god, Turisas is about as immersed in Viking metal glory as they come (seriously, Google them and check out that war paint). They expertly combine power metal and death metal with orchestral elements to form epic songs like “Fields of Gold.” This song inspires us to never give up in the game of life as we all move forward.
“Hold the Heathen Hammer High”: Týr
“Heathen heart! Pagan pride! Faring far! Sword by side!”
Týr is named for the Norse god of war, law, and glory. The members hail from the Faroe Islands, which is an archipelago between Norway and Iceland and an autonomous country of Denmark. Faroese culture mixes those of the Celts and Norse, and Týr’s “Hold the Heathen Hammer High” is a song of ancestral pride. They have a style more like power metal, with clean guitars and vocals, and lots of swords and pagans.
“For Those Who Died”: Brymir
“By their valor we’ll light up the stars with the fire they held in their hearts!”
Brymir is a lesser-known band that I absolutely adore. They formed their band in a music summer camp and have covered other Viking metal songs, though recently they’ve taken their band more seriously and have released some original stuff. “For Those Who Died” is a song in honor of those who died in battle, asking everyone still alive to remember the names of the fallen as they go forth to Valhalla, the hall of the slain. “Odin’s embrace, Valhalla awaits!”
“March of Conquest”: SuidAkrA
“Relentless, fearless, battle-scarred, to the south the legion marched.”
This song is unlike most within its genre, because instead of talking about pagan cultures, it is about the (Christian) Roman Empire. Some other bands, like the next one on this list, have songs about the oppression of pagan groups by the Romans. This is one such song. The lyrics ironically glorify the brutality committed by Roman soldiers in regions such as Gaul. In addition to this subtle meaning, the harmonies in the song are interesting and the changes in tempo are excellent.
“From Darkness”: Eluveitie
“The day is born from the night; on the third night of Samon the year is born.”
Eluveitie beautifully incorporates multiple folk instruments into their brand of death metal, drawing on Gallic history and religion in their lyrics. “From Darkness” is about an interesting aspect of the religion in Gaul: unlike most groups, the Gauls believed that the night came before the day. The darkness of night and the light of the moon are very important in Gallic faith, as opposed to the reverence of the sun in other religions. Just listen to the flute and violin solos!
“In My Sword I Trust”: Ensiferum
“Tyrants and cowards, for metal you will kneel! In my sword I trust!”
A great Viking metal anthem, “In My Sword I Trust” is among Ensiferum’s greatest. They are one of the most famous bands of the genre, and their combination of power, death, and folk metal attracts listeners from all parts of the metal community. The lyrics are powerful and inspiring, but unlike many other bands, they are easy to understand the first time through. I highly recommend Ensiferum as one of the big names in Viking metal.
“Soil of the Corpse”: Korpiklaani
“I’ll throw soil in your spirits; you are to taste the might of death!”
Korpiklaani is a lightweight folk metal band compared to most others in this playlist. They are typically very upbeat and happy in their style and musical themes. “Soil of the Corpse” is about a Finnish tradition in which people in need of money make a deal with the devil. The devil tells them that they have to curse people by throwing graveyard soil into their drinks, driving them to insanity or killing them. Spooky, yet very fun.