Unearthing The Metal Underground: The Folk Metal Scene
Each week with "Unearthing the Metal Underground," we’ll be spotlighting a few quality lesser known bands in an attempt to spread the word and expose acts that make the underground great. This week we head into a genre that combines two seemingly irreconcilable styles – traditional folk music and heavy metal. Despite what might appear like water and oil, folk music mixes exceedingly well with both traditional metal and extreme styles such as death or black metal. Folk metal is currently dominated by big names like Korpiklaani, Finntroll, and Eluveitie. Anyone who digs a little deeper will find a host of unknowns bands just as capable of making metal heads want to raise a tankard or march off to Mordor.
There’s a joke in the metal world about all bands being inspired by Satan, Lovecraft, or Tolkien. It turns out it’s not just the Europeans who can’t get enough of the epic “The Lord of the Rings” series, though. You can now throw Argentina on that list, with Tengwar drawing their name from the language created by Tolkien.
Tengwar starts with a base of traditional instruments, and then adds the guitars in to augment the music, showing off a huge Celtic influence that is more “folk” than “metal.” The range of instruments found in Tengwar’s music is staggering, covering the gamut of what folk can provide. Galician bagpipes, recorders, flutes, mandolins, tin whistles, and fiddles all make appearances throughout the music.
The clean vocals are done in an epic rock and roll style, keeping up the sweeping and grand ideals of the source material. In some parts the music speeds up and almost approaches a Korpiklaani-esque happy drinking atmosphere. Tengwar is currently working on a full-length album titled “The Halfling’s Rise,” and songs from the “Tengwesta Quendion” EP are available for streaming via the band’s MySpace page.
Footage of the band performing a self-titled track and the song “Bear Skin” (poor sound on this clip) can be seen below.
Belarus is still an emerging force in the metal scene, beginning a slow march towards international recognition. Drygva is one of the country’s unknown gems, mixing together their take on high quality melodic death/black metal with symphonic elements such as flutes and keyboards. Drygva inked a deal with Grailight Productions to see the release of a full-length album titled “Son of Mighty Rod” last month.
You can check out three sample Drygva songs through the band’s MySpace page. Two tracks off the album, “Mother of Enhydris” and “Under the Banner of Perun,” can also be heard in the video clips below.
Chur is another group mixing heavy guitars with traditional folk music that hasn’t gotten much recognition outside the band’s homeland of the Ukraine. Chur hits a good balance between the folk and metal elements, using both extreme growled vocals and traditional clean female vocals, courtesy of Viktoriya Kumanovskaya. You can check out three videos of the band performing live below, or find their MySpace page here.
CHUR "Idu Na Vy!" (Live)
CHUR "Maty" (Live)
CHUR "Sura" (Live)
Certainly there are more quality folk metal bands to be found. If you'd like to recommend some other good underground bands, please feel free to discuss them in the comments below. Check back every Monday as we dive into a different scene or genre to unearth more underground metal bands.
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