Vera : Folkearth evolves like the ever expanding universe. The idea behind this project came to existence in 2004 as a musical forum for folk and (Viking) metal musicians from all parts of the world. Their debut album 'A Nordic Poem' featured fourteen musicians from six different countries (the emphasis on Germany and Sweden, isn't it a wonder?), on this long awaited successor 'By The Sword Of My Father' no less than thirty-one musicians from eight different countries contributed. Haggard is a compact outfit in comparison with this. Yet two of these musicians caught the eye: the Swedish Magnus Wohlfart (Yggdasil) who wrote a large amount of the songs and enriched most of the tracks with his raucous throat, while he was taken care of the mix too, and the Greek Marios Koutsoukos who invented most of the lyrics. These lyrics are mainly dealing with - what do you expect of Viking metal - Norse mythology.
This is not an album you get to know after a few spins, even harder it is to describe it quickly. There is that much difference between the songs that you only can appreciate it with an open-minded view. Because of the style of every composer of course. The three singing women are not too much featured, only in a few songs they are doing lead vocals. Hugin composed the filmic introduction and the introvert instrumental epilogue. Fortunately most of the songs have a proper amount of harsh metal, magnificent guitar skills (just listen to the pre-eminent soloing in 'Domain Of Darksome Ravens') and raucous black metal vocals. But there is more, much more. A whole arsenal of folk and medieval instruments, you should know them by now: bagpipes, all kinds of flutes and whistles I do not want to specify, violin, Celtic harp, mouth harp, medieval lute (by Daniel Fredriksson of Otyg!), oaten pipe, and so on. They have been working hard on arrangements and highfaluting choir chants. On the contrary we have an Ensiferum alike fidget sound in some parts, so that we can bang our heads in between all those cultural performances. Fortunately!
Favourite tracks are 'The Death Of Beowulf' which starts quite calm with solemn male vocals and violin, but works its way slowly towards a mighty climax with screams and black metal acceleration and the above mentioned 'Domain Of Darksome Ravens' because of its marvellous guitar lines. Though I have to admit that the mirthful and exultant folk tunes of 'Instrumental (the title is obvious) and 'Wisdom Of Wolfs' charm by their different timbre. I just got cheerful of a song like 'A Tribute To The Viking Gods', this song just swings all over in despite of its quite lugubrious theme and that's an honour for composer Marcus Van Langen. This international collective overwhelms us with nothing less than seventy-two minutes of intricate Viking metal (fifteen own compositions and 'Heathenpride', a Falkenbach cover which fits the global sound). I suggest: take a seat and open your mind for a mundane trip.