What better way to start of this blog series about some bands you should be listening to around the world than with one of my favourite countries in the world – Sweden! Home of fika, meatballs, Ikea and some absolutely fantastic metal, I am absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to discovering new folk/pagan/power metal bands from this wonderful country. I have also created a Spotify playlist featuring all the bands on this list, so you can give them a proper listen!
Ostara’s Orbit of the World – Sweden Spotify Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/dawnmae91/playlist/3NHDOwEOhMkOnxvLFNe5Rs
I couldn’t really write about bands you should be checking out without mentioning my wonderful friends in Grimner. The combination of harsh and clean vocals, and the addition of keys and a variety of wind instruments works really well. Their lyrics are in Swedish and focus on Norse myths, legends and folklore. You never want to stop dancing and jigging when you listen to their music. Playing live, they put on a fantastic show. They have so much energy and you can tell they have so much fun up on stage. They really are a fantastic bunch of guys as well (even if they did bring their Swedish snow when they visited the UK for the first time).
Dragonland have been around for a while, and I know them best through their 2011 album Under The Grey Banner, the third instalment of their albums based on the fictional world of Dragonland. The vocals are incredible, and the power metal instrumental makes you want to pump your fist into the air and belt out a chorus with them. If you like fantasy, and you like power metal, then Dragonland are a band you want to check out. They have been out of the scene for a while, but are starting to play some shows again, so I’m hoping that one day they will be playing somewhere near me.
Another folk metal band, Midvinterblot have a more traditional vibe to their music, with violin heavily incorporated into their melodies, there is also wind instruments in the instrumental. They have a mix of harsh and clean vocals. I can definitely see myself having a good old time seeing these guys live. They have more chilled out tracks, some fast-paced tracks you can have a jog to, and of course, can you really call yourselves a folk metal band without at least one or two tracks you can have a horn of ale or mead to? I keep hinting that they should come and play some shows in the UK; they would be a great fit for a festival like Warhorns.
Månegarm (I’m a terrible person who can’t pronounce this properly but can write it correctly), is on the faster end of folk metal, with more emphasis on the metal in their instrumental, but the lyrical content is well within the folk metal realm. I had the pleasure of seeing Månegarm live in 2016 at my first Warhorns Festival and there was so much energy, it was a fantastic live show. Their music will make you want to headbang and dance around at the same time. They’re definitely a great band to listen to when you need to get motivated for a workout, and enjoy some top quality folk metal while you’re at it. I’m hoping that I get to see a live performance again sometime soon. Two years is too long!
Fejd are a fairly recent discovery for me, thanks to YouTube and Spotify recommendations. There are a lot of traditional folk instruments with the more usual metal instruments, which goes back to their folk roots. There are lots of string and droning instruments in the music which gives it a unique sound. The lyrical content (according to Metal Archives because my Swedish is still basic) is Nordic based, and the vocals are all clean. To me, Fejd are a folk band with metal added in, rather than most folk metal bands who have folk instruments added to the metal elements of their tracks. It adds a more mysterious and spiritual aspect to the music which I really like. I have yet to see Fejd live, but I do hope that this will change at some point.
A fairly recent addition to the folk metal scene, From North are a new discovery for me based on lots of time on Metal Archives looking for folk, power and pagan metal bands to listen to and write about. Their debut and only album is self-titled and has heavy Norse and Viking themes. The metal instrumental can be quite heavy at times, but there are a lot of medieval instruments added to a lot of the tracks on the album, so it fits well within the folk metal genre. There are also harsh and clean vocals, just a great variety of styles in the album. I hope to hear more from this band in the future and a live appearance near me soon. They would be a fantastic addition to a Bloodstock or Warhorns lineup in the next few years.