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Metsatoll - "Karjajuht" (CD)

Metsatoll - "Karjajuht" CD cover image

"Karjajuht" track listing:

1. Külmking
2. Lööme Mesti
3. See On See Maa
4. Must Hunt
5. Terasest Taotud Tee
6. Öö
7. Tôrrede Kôhtudes
8. Metslase Veri
9. Surmamüür
10. Mullast
11. Karjajuht
12. Talisman

Reviewed by on June 2, 2014

"...the perfect combination of electric and acoustic, metal and folk."

"Külmking" begins with a violin solo. The tones bowed here serve as a fitting opening for "Karjajuht," the latest folk metal offering by Estonian act, Metsatöll. These notes tell the listener what to expect: the perfect combination of electric and acoustic, metal and folk. There is also an eeriness in this part, and maybe that is due to the fact that this track was written about a ten-armed, ten-legged unstoppable creature who dines on the flesh of children in the forests of Estonia. The mythology and instrumentation may be woodsy, but the guitar that soon appears is modern and thrashy.

Folk metal is a catch-all term in today's scene, as bands of this ilk could opt for black metal, doom, power, or traditional metal as their style. Strip away all the old world instruments and even the vocals in favor of gritty guitars and speedy drum beats and you have a modern thrash album that would fit in with the Warbringers and Havoks of the world. The deep guitar tuning on ""??" and the chugging grove of "Metslase Veri" are enough to incite circular hair motions. The drums and guitar are massive on "Karjajuht," but their ethnic instruments make the album special, as these parts instill the mood. Whether it's the chiming tones of the zither on "Tõrrede kõhtudes" or the drum and flute combo of "Must Hunt," the group leaves listeners with a piece of the Estonian countryside.

Marko Atso's drumming is often at the forefront for creating the band's best rhythms. His wrists tap militaristic marches on "Metslase Veri" and "Must Hunt." He flails straight ahead on his kit during the opening segment of "Surmamüür" and then reigns in the beat during a particularly heavy groove. The pugnacious harmony of the drums-bass combo at the beginning of "Lööme mesti" make me think of Cannibal Corpse's "Hammer Smashed Face." This track is a great example of how the band often takes a metal approach to the wind woods. The tin whistle that appears among a crunched-out guitar riff serve the same purpose as a guitar solo.

"Karjajuht" does find that perfect medium between folk and heavy metal. One thing it could improve upon, though, is the epic quality of each song. Each track averages around 4 minutes, which hardly equates to grandiose compositions. A track like "Metslase Veri," with its regal chorus lines or the ascending rhythm of "Terasest Taotud Tee" are epic in sound but not really in scope. For the overall product, though, "Karjajuht" is powerful enough to stand up to just about any album in realms of folk metal.

Highs: Marching drums, gravelly guitars, and moody old world instrumentation.

Lows: Not much other than the songs could be longer to instill a greater sense of the epic.

Bottom line: "Karjajuht" is a folk metal album with enough heaviness to attract normal detractors of the style.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)