Metsatöll - Karjajuht
Spinefarm Records
Folk/Heavy Metal
12 songs (44'40'')
Release year: 2014
Spinefarm Records
Reviewed by Jared

Sometimes after sitting on an album long enough, opinions can change dramatically. That is exactly the case with my experience with the newest album Karjajuht from the folk metal band Metsatöll. Their name derives from the traditional Estonian euphemism for wolf, and also incorporates traditional Estonian instruments such as flutes to give the music a bit of a unique feel. The band originally started with three members when they formed in 1999, until a close friend, Lauri "Varulven" Õunapuu joined the band who was experienced in some Estonian instruments. The result is a pretty interesting dose of folk metal that can get downright heavy.

An obscure folk sound instigates the start of the album with string instruments in the opener, Külmking. The guitars emerge with a more heavy and thrash influenced sound which came as a great surprise and a much greeted surprise at that. Instead of fancy leads and over the top solos like I usually expect from folk metal bands, Metsatöll are much heavier than many. They rely on the traditional Estonian instruments to become elaborate while the guitars and drums evoke a strong and harsh sound. It was much unexpected to hear such a strongly heavy focused folk metal album. The second track alone, Lööme mesti, is one heavy monster of a track with an obviously rough attitude like a lot of these war-like tracks are jam-packed with.

Vocally, the album is a hardened sounding approach to folk metal. It was not immediately my favorite style, which may be the reason why it wasn't the most appealing album immediately. But the rather catchy and robust chorus from such tracks as, See on see maa, really took the album to great heights with amazingly layered folk sounding vocals done in a very deep tone.

Metsatöll deals mainly with war themes and history. It stays very war hardened even in later tracks like Metsalase, which is a one heavy as hell battle march. For such a heavy record, the folk instruments play a pretty significant role, but never once become annoying in any part of the album, which I find the case in a lot of folk metal bands. However, there is literally almost no lead guitar work found on this album, which I did not mind after completing the album. Much of the melody at times is carried forth by the use of the traditional Estonian instruments whether it be wind or string instruments, it takes on the role of the leads and does it beautifully well.

Karjajuht is a metal album that I was not immediately enticed by, but after spending some time with it, I came to find that Metsatöll are a heavy and brute force of Estonian influenced folk metal. The use of traditional instruments carries the melody well, and mixed with heavy and thrash influences, the album was a complete surprise despite my first thoughts.

Killing Songs :
Külmking, Lööme mesti, See on see maa, Öö, Tõrrede kõhtudes, Metsalase very, Mullast
Jared quoted 80 / 100
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