Vintersorg - Orkan (Napalm Records)

Here's yet another great offering from the land of Sweden. Don't let the "folk" metal classification throw you off. Orkan is a pure progressive metal album with loads of surprises.
Release Date: 
29 Jun 2012 (All day)

Vintersorg is Andreas Hedlund. Vintersorg is from Sweden. Orkan is all in the Swedish language. Now that that's out of the way let me drive home the point that Orkan is yet another killer album by musician mastermind Andreas Hedlund. Andreas Hedlund is music. He's been in no less than six bands in his career spanning from 1994 to the present day. He's created everything from black metal to symphonic metal to gothic metal to melodic metal to epic metal. Andreas Hedlund is a musician you want to work with. You are pretty much gaurenteed to end up with a gobsmacking product.

Vintersorg is one of Andreas' solo projects. The newest album, Orkan, is his 9th under the Vintersorg name and is classified as "folk" metal. I'm not to sure why. Maybe because all the vocals are in Swedish. That's an easy cop out because when you listen to the album, it offers you so much more. Orkan is a darn fine album that is more prog rock than anything else. Andreas' vocals alternate between a predator growl style and amazing tenor-ish harmonies. Mattias Marklund also contributes some awesome musicality for this release.

The album opens with Istid which has a pretty neat flute solo that reminds me of Jethro Tull. It's plenty heavy with it's double bass drumming and solid guitar solos. Don't get it twisted, the keyboard playing is the backbone of this track. It's very front and centre. Ur Stjarnotoft Ar Vi Komna is epic and grandiose. The drumming is intricate and the composition holds the listeners interest. What's truly awesome aboutr this song and indeed the album is the layers of music. Vocal harmonies, jazz drum fills, flute solos, blistering guitars,moving piano interludes, and evil vocals gives the audience surprise after surprise in every track.  Polarnatten begins with a very much Wagnerian classical theme whose variations descend it into a metal mode of Faustian hell. The song tosses a renaissance piano / keyboard into the mix in spots and it works. The chorus paces like a traditional drinking song; even if you don't understand the Swedish language you find yoruself singing along. I can't tell if it's a clavichord or harpsichord  along with the flute flourishes in the song, but it totally rocks. Just for laughs, after about five mintues the band busts out some Iron Maiden like harmonies on guitar. Wicked Cool!

Myren is another song that begins in a very strict classical vein; finger picked violins, viola, etc.. before it descends into some very heavy metal guitars and bass guitar. It's a very obvious nod to Grieg that music connoisseurs will appreciate. The title track, Orkan, opens with some amazing piano work before descending into a circle pit frenzy. The song settles into a great progressive metal song. Haverts Nad is a whirling dirvish of putrid metal. Awesome guitar work and some solid vocals are it's highlight. Norrskenssyner is another stellar track showcasing just how good Andreas and Matthias are as musicians. Urvandersfangen is a lovely waltz that just flows beautifully. The song is very ying and yang; dark and light; stunning harmonies and devilish growls.

If Andreas wanted to push the envelop of what metal is or what it could be, he's done a bang up job with Orkan. Andreas' Vintersorg project and album Orkan is right up there with Shining's Live Black Jazz in terms of composition and musicality. For the listeners, it will take an open mind and a discerning ear to appreciate what Andreas has created. But the faithful are rewarded with an amazing album that will stand the test of time.