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Sunday, December 18, 2011
12 Days of Christmetal: Baldur - Skálmöld - 2011
I was excited for Skálmöld's Balduras soon as I saw the cover. And then, when Metal Hammer labeled it "Amon Amarth-meets-Ensiferum-via-Iron Maiden" I made sure I had it in my hands. That was Halloween. I've played Baldur through several times. Metal Hammer could have saved some copy and just described it as "Ensiferum." I appreciate the historically accurate adherence to Icelandic verse and narrative tradition and, even with the lyric in a language most of the world's listeners will not comprehend, the booklet provides Cliff's Notes in English so we can follow the album's story arc, on that seems cool as hell (badass Viking's family is destroyed by a demon and he seeks revenge, dying and reaching Valhalla as he succeeds). I just wish it had rocked harder. While Amon Amarth may not represent all that is Viking metal (hell, they don't even claim the label for themselves), they certainly set a standard for heaviness associated with horned helms and battle-axes and Skálmöld's power metal approach liberally intertwined with folk elements makes for an experience that, while not entirely unpleasant, is certainly wimpier. And, given that cover, it's unforgivable.