Bloodshed Walhalla – Ragnarok

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Album: Ragnarok
Band: Bloodshed Walhalla
Release Date: 20th July 2018
Record Label: Hellbones Records

I have discovered more and more Italian folk and pagan metal over the past few months, with bands such as Elvenking, Wind Rose and Aexylium. I’m not sure if this is a more recent thing, but I am enjoying the kind of metal that is usually associated with more northern and western parts of Europe, particularly when there are Viking themes such as with Bloodshed Walhalla. Bloodshed Walhalla is a solo project by multi-instrumentalist Drakhen. There are only 4 tracks, but this does include a near 30 minute long epic to finish off.

The title track begins with a single horse galloping, the wind howling. We slowly hear what sounds like a stampede, before returning back to one horse, and then we hear the cries and clashing of steel from battle. The instrumental itself kicks in with acoustic guitar, flutes and chants, and then as the full band kicks in we also hear some brass and Drakham’s harsh vocals. You can definitely hear the Moonsorrow influence, it is dancey, folky and jiggy, and there is an electronic/synth melody over the rest of the instrumental. There are some calmer sections to the track with flute and cleaner vocals. There are also group vocals in this track, and we end as we began, with a single galloping horse and the howling wind.

My Mather Earth begins with birdsong, and the sounds of a forge. We have a more sinister musical start with a low tone, before more epic orchestral instrumental comes in with some war style drums. There is then an almost piratey melody before we get a synth melod again. The track as a whole is at a slower tempo than the first track, it sounds like the artist is portraying a struggle through the tone of the music. There are group vocals, and while these are in play, the melody and instrumental reminds me a little of Misty Mountains Cold from The Hobbit trilogy. The track ends with a rowboat moving through the water, complete with squeaky oars as they glide through the water.

Like Your Son is the penultimate track, beginning once again with more non-musical sounds to build the atmosphere. This time we have a flag buffeting in the wind. The synth melody begins a more hopeful tune, and then we hear this melody loud and proud accompanied by drums and guitar. There is a build up in the instrumental and then the Moonsorrow influence is back again, and that is definitely no bad thing. There are some cleaner vocals in this and group vocals again, and once again this track ends as it begins, with a flag in the wind.

For My God is the final and longest track; the aforementioned near 30 minute long epic. As with all tracks on this album, we start with atmosphere setting sounds. There are crows, fire, a running stream, the sea, bird song, and finally a horse galloping. The instrumental begins in a similar way to My Mather Earth, with a darker tone to it. There is whispering with a violin accompaniment which continues to build the atmosphere. Then we are hit with heavy guitar and drums, a big contrast to the rest of the album so far. Then the atmosphere and synth return, and we have a slower pace, but we do hear the Moonsorrow influence once again. There are calmer sections, and around half way through it completely calms down with only a flute and water running before we cycle through several instrumental sections and slow and epic sections with group vocals. The ending for me does go on a little too long, we repeat the group vocals and instrumentals and slow the tempo down every so slightly on each cycle. The track finally ends with a crow and wind.

I was pleasantly surprised by this album. When I heard that this was blackened Viking metal, I wasn’t expecting the amount of folky influences akin to Moonsorrow, and I really do enjoy that. I do need to explore more of Drakham and Bloodshed Walhalla’s music in general. The Italian folk metal scene, and the southern European folk metal scene in general are getting bigger, and there are some fantastic bands coming out of this.

Verdict: 8.5/10

Bloodshed Walhalla Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BloodshedWalhallaOfficial
Buy Bloodshed Walhalla Music and Merch: https://bloodshedwalhalla.bandcamp.com/

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