Estonia may hardly be the epicentre of all things Metal but a quick search on any well-informed music-related Internet site will reveal that this beautiful country located in the Baltic region of Northern Europe has been the breeding ground of a great number of diverse-sounding Metal bands.
Of the five which has chosen to incorporate Folk elements in their music the one which stands out as being the most hard working and best-recognised is Metsatoll – the Tallinn-based quartet whose sixth studio album “Karjajuht” is finally upon us.
My decision to review Maetsatoll’s latest offering was, more than anything else, the result of sheer curiosity as, prior to being granted access to “Karjajuht”, I had absolutely no clue what the band’s music sounded like.
As is the case with most modern-day Folk Metal bands, the band’s music is characterised by the incorporation and use of a number transitional instruments such as Torupill (Estonian Bagpipe), Kannel (string instrument similar to the Finnish Kantele), mouth harps and goathorns – all, however, playing a supporting role to Markus Teeaar’s electric guitar riffs which lead by example.
While all this sound terribly interesting on paper, the end example, sadly, fails to live to one’s expectations and that is mainly due to two factors; a) the band’s inability to create something that we haven’t already heard by the likes of Finntroll and Ensiferum and b) Teeaar’s terrible-sounding vocals which seriously undermine all the hard work that he and his colleagues have done while recording the twelve compositions on offer.
Songs like the opening track “Kulmking”, “Terasest Taotud Tee” and “Talisman” feature massive guitar riffs and incorporate melodies that would have sounded much more desirable if presented to us by a better equipped singer while the annoyingly happy “Must Hunt” and the thematically immature “Surmamuur” would still sound terrible even if they had Ronnie James Dio singing in them.
I am well aware that albums like “Karjajuht” are not for everyone, especially people with my musical upbringing; however I am pretty certain that even the most hard core Folk Metal fan will agree with me that Metsatoll’s music does fall quite short when compared with the works of the leaders of the said genre.
There will be a time and place where this album will prove to be an ideal soundtrack but will most likely require large doses of alcohol and scenes of juvenile nature which, to somebody like me, are sadly things of the past.