Vintersorg - Naturbål
Napalm Records
Nordic Folk Metal
9 songs (53'26")
Release year: 2014
Vintersorg, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

It is an open secret I am a huge Vintersorg fan. I think I have made this proclamation every time I had a chance to write a review of the next release by this Swedish artist on this site. And every time I declare that my affection for Vintersorg music started with Cosmic Genesis. I must have listened to that album for what is probably 100 times by now and I never get tired of it. Every time I am in a position to review Vintersorg then, subconsciously, I am comparing how the next release measures up to what is a "gold standard", in mind anyway. I never came to admire the progressive period of Vintersorg discography, and commented how Orkan almost got there but ran out of steam about mid-way. To those of you who, like me, were looking for a repeat of that bright flashing moment: rejoice, the time has come and Naturbal IS the closest Vintersorg came to Cosmic Genesis. Give it a little bit of time and this album will be known as the close second best by this master of Nordic folk metal.

Going back to the roots is the ticket for Naturbal. It is the definitive, yet elegant, emphasis on folk, which completely won me over with this album. For one, Andreas Hedlund has been on a creative roll lately, releasing albums with impressive frequency. Yet, most importantly, while continuing with the celebration of nature's elements (fire this time), Andreas recalled what he wanted to do when Vargatron died and Vintersorg was born. As described in one of his interviews I read long time ago, Andreas wanted to construct very melodic black metal sung in mostly clean vocals, with occasional grim screaming, and buttress it all with authentic Nordic melodies. Thus, Naturbal is much closer to Till Fjalls and as far away from Visions from the Spiral Generator as possible. Only these days Vintersorg sounds a lot more mature, after years of reflection and experience.

The songs on Naturbal unabashedly open with overt folk motifs and maintain them throughout ( Ur aska och sot, Natten viste vad skymningen sag, Elddraken). To those who might lament the lack of extremity the tension in the gallop of Overallt och ingenstans, the predatorial beginning of En blixt frank lar himmel, the animal roar of Lagornas rov, and probably what is the biggest thundering riff by Vintersorg in a while (Rymdens brinnande oar), hopefully those moments will sway them too. But if these people will remain unconvinced, ultimately, who cares. Naturbal is a lot about contrasts, about delectably anticipated acoustic touches, about marrying the animal instinct and mystery in Lagornas rov, about the gentleness seeping through the male/female duet after the riffs in Rymdens brinnande oar, about the oh-oh-oh clean layered choruses after extreme verses (En blixt frank lar himmel). Mattias Marklund, the other half of Vintersorg, provides fantastic solos, percussion (probably programmed as it usually is) sounds real and organic, overall sound on the album is huge and epic, even with symphonic grandiose elements inserted into Rymdens brinnande oar and Urdarmane. With the latter Vintersorg would have been forgiven if the main melody continued on piano and synth, it is that good, but the intro is only a lull before the storm. There is blasting, there are riffs, and there is an overall fantastic song after which the closer Sjal i flamma almost seemed anti-climactic at first.

When I listen to the album I am about to review, I take it with me on my car rides to work, but after I am through a few listens taking notes, I shut myself out of it. After all there is so much new music to get through. But with Naturbal every time I turned my car on, and it started playing randomly, at any given song, I just could not pry myself away from it. It is my Album of the Month, just for one simple reason I have been listening to it for at least that long. It is so easy to like this album, so easy to comprehend it, yet it continues to give with continuous spins. To close, I would like to quote a chorus from Cosmic Genesis Astral and Arcane: “I can feel the towering mountatin, as well as the abyss-like sea. In my veins the wildest river, and every growing tree”. Congratulations, Andreas Hedlund. With Naturbal I felt it all again.

Killing Songs :
Ur aska och sot, Överallt och ingenstans, En blixt från klar himmel, Rymdens brinnande öar, Elddraken, Urdarmåne
Alex quoted 93 / 100
Other albums by Vintersorg that we have reviewed:
Vintersorg - Till Fjalls, del II reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
Vintersorg - Orkan reviewed by Alex and quoted 86 / 100
Vintersorg - Jordpuls reviewed by Tony and quoted 93 / 100
Vintersorg - Solens Rotter reviewed by Alex and quoted 80 / 100
Vintersorg - The Focusing Blur reviewed by Jeff and quoted 86 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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