Vintersorg – Naturbål: Masterlord SteelDragon’s Decree

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Masterlord SteelDragon has some time on his iron hands, and instead of searching for new employment or helping Mrs. SteelDragon out around the house, he’s been putting it to good use: sitting atop his skull-throne with nations as his footstool, and his dominion stretching ever before him. It’s given me the opportunity to listen to more music than usual, and one album in particular has been monopolizing my time. I don’t like waxing poetic because real men don’t wax anything ever, but Vintersorg‘s Naturbål is so deserving of your attention that I’m going to review it.

Vintersorg‘s last outing came to us in 2012, scarcely one year after Jordpuls was released. Knowing this, I was hopeful that Naturbål would be hot-on-the-heels of Orkan. Still, two years is nothing to sneeze at in a genre where the likes of Necrophagist and Jari Mäenpää’s Wintersun tramp about unpunished, especially when you consider the quality of the material here. Andreas Hedlund and Mattias Markund have delivered the same blend of black metal and melodic, prog-laced folk that fans have come to expect from them, and that, my friends, is a very good thing.

After an obligatory but inoffensive intro, Hedlund belts out a familiar rasp and “Ur aska och sot” erupts into a squall of blast beats and trem-picking that sounds as pissed off as anything I’ve ever heard out of Vintersorg. In fact, this entire album feels considerably more aggressive than their previous work, with a higher percentage of black metal and more harshness in general. It’s even reflected in the more subdued interludes prevalent in Vintersorg‘s music: while in Jordpuls they were spirited and blithe, here they brim with an almost threatening volatility.

But, shower singers rejoice! – the extra dose of aggression doesn’t detract from Andreas Hedlund’s mastery over the memorable chorus. His knack for crafting beautiful and unconventional melodies is in full force here, and his phrasing weaves unpredictably over the bouncing riffs. Take notice, because albums that will satisfy your fiery metal heart while still being catchy enough for your imaginary girlfriend don’t come around very often. I’ve been singing “Överallt och ingenstans” in broken Swedish for days, and “Lågornas rov’s” endearing quirk reminds of the excellent chorus in Jordpuls‘ “Klippor och skår.”

“En blixt från klar himmel” almost lost me but eventually managed to reclaim my attention with Enslaved-flavored riffing under harmonic, Viking-like chants. In sections like this, the prog abides, but followers of the band won’t be surprised to hear that Hedlund is continuing his recent trend of dialing down the progressive influence in favor of a more traditional sound, which means plenty of folk for all you kilt-clad tankard-raisers out there. Parts of “Elddraken” even have a bit of a Baltic gypsy vibe reminiscent of TrollfesT.

As great as this record is, there are a few minor missteps which the hardened music critics and/or chronic bellyachers among you are bound to notice. Apparently a certain Simon Lundström is responsible for contributing bass guitar this time around. I say apparently because if I hadn’t read it with my own two charming eyes, I wouldn’t have believed that he showed up to the studio at all – I can’t hear a damn thing he supposedly did in there. I’m aware that requesting audible bass when black metal is involved is a fruitless endeavor, but it never seemed to be a problem for Vintersorg until now and I miss it dearly. Some of you will also be sure to notice that Naturbål, like all of Vintersorg‘s work, is a perilous concoction of busy and loud. Audiophiles, be ye warned!

I’ve heard some additional complaints from the endless herd of bovid populating the internet that JordpulsOrkan, and now Naturbål (based on Earth, Air and Fire respectively), don’t sound any different from one another. To you I say – thou art dorks. If you can’t hear the jovial nature of Nature in Jordpuls, then you obviously don’t know what an earthpulse is and should read a book for once in your life. If the windswept melodies of Orkan don’t conjure up lucid visions of gale and gust, then you’ve never left the drab cave in which you were so unfortunately born. From the frantic intensity of “Ur aska och sot” to the soft glow of “Själ i flamma,” Naturbål bleeds Fire, and bleeds it well. If you need more Fire than that, go jump in a furnace.

1 / 5 FLUSHES

Naturbal

Naturbål is out now on Napalm Records.

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  • Flushgod Apocalypse

    Oh how I’ve been waiting for some new GOOD folk metal to come into my life. This has filled that void <3

    P.S. I feel your pain on the unemployment. Layoffs suck ass (I got booted the beginning of June), but I'm taking this opportunity to help get ToH up and running as well. Cheers, MasterLord!

    • I’m glad you like it! Our new purpose is to serve the great Toilet.

    • W.

      Few are worthy to sit the porcelain throne.

  • Fromwisdomtohate29

    Vintersorg is a pretty underrated vocalist.

    Have you listened to the most recent Borknagar (Urd)? They brought I.C.S. Vortex back into the band, which was a stroke of genius. Hearing him and Vintersorg do dual death/clean vocals is the epitome of epic.

    • Urd rules!

    • Christian Molenaar

      Oh shit, I heard the new Borknagar album leaked and was like “no care” but if ICS Vortex is back I am in. I’ll have to check that out at some point.

    • Warheart

      Even when I love the band and ALL the related projects, Urd was kind of a disappointment, it seems the band is stagnated.

      BTW, hopefully there will be a new Solefald album this year!!! (It was supposed to came out LAST year, but whatever).

    • That album was tied with Woods V for JAG’s AotY. It is fucking awesome.

      I love all things Mr. V but I think my favorite Vintersorg album was Visions from the Spiral Generator. I was blown away when that came out and have been listening to it regularly ever since.

  • KEEP ON FLUSHING IN THE FREE WORLD!!!

  • Metaphysical Anus

    I’m liking this. This makes me sad that I was a lil shit and didn’t learn swedish that well.

    • I often wonder how stupid I would sound to an actual Swede when I’m singing along to this shit.

      • Metaphysical Anus

        I would sound quite stupid while trying to talk swedish. It would become a mix of finnish and swedish and would sound terrible.

      • JWG

        I’d like to learn a little more Swedish, given that it makes up about a quarter of my ethnic background.

        If I were called out on doing it wrong, I’d probably just claim to be doing a Swedish Chef impersonation, then resume practicing in private…

  • Metaphysical Anus

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aDPkcuvM6Q4
    Not pure metal, but you can hear some metal influence. Circle has some albums with more heavy metal feel.

  • Gobshite

    Just so I understand, the lesser the flushes means that it’s the bees knees, aye?

    On a side note, does anyone else think that Borknagar have a hard on for the word ‘existense’? Seriously, it pops up in nearly every fucking song.

    • Christian Molenaar

      Yes and yes.

  • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

    A well written article, what is this the friggin twilight zone ? The classic original, not the revials in 85 or 2000’s, or the somewhat flaccid 80’s film.

    • Metaphysical Anus

      It’s good to see you here Conan.

      • Mithrandir

        Internet bussiest music fagit

        • Metaphysical Anus

          Don’t be so mean to the lil guy. He has introduced me to a lot of good music.

  • Cthulhu

    unrelated, i know. but, thoughts on ”pale comunion”?

    • Metaphysical Anus

      Has it leaked? Fuck me, must find it now!

      • LAMENTATIONS OF THE WOMEN

        It sucks. I can send a link tomorrow if you dont find it first

        • Metaphysical Anus

          Dammit. If it’s good prog, I’ll most likely like it.

          • Warheart

            Yeah, give it a try man, I’m listening to it right now and so far it is pretty good.

        • Cthulhu

          pretty ”meh” i was expecting a bit more.

  • Warheart

    As a longtime Vintersorg fan, I have to say that this is the first album I really like since Cosmic Genesis.

    • …wot…

      😉

      • Warheart

        That’s right, I can’t stand VftSG, TFB, SR, Jordpuls and Orkan more than a few songs of each album.

        He has very good ideas, but they dilute in the arrangements, so, at least to me, Vintersorg was at his top when his music was “simpler” and “straight”, TJ and OS are killer albums, and CG is his masterpiece without a doubt.

  • SMOHLG

    Wait… I’m behind, 1/5 is good, right?

  • SleepingStars

    Eeeeexcellent. I’ve been looking for a good new folk metal album to listen to. And from his other posts I’m getting the feeling that Masterlord SteelDragon’s suggestions may be generally agreeable to my tastes.