Metsatoll - _Terast Mis Hangund Me Hinge 10128_
(Nailboard Records, 2005)
by: Quentin Kalis (no rating)
I've declined to provide this album with a rating. The sole reason for my decision is the fact that this is a re-recording of their debut album, much the same as Dimmu Borgir did with _Stormblast_. The revised _Stormblast_ was a feeble and transparent attempt by one of the biggest bands in metal to make some easy money or fulfill contractual obligations. But Metsatoll are not nearly as popular as the Hollywood black metallers, so commercial or even contractual considerations could not have been the primary motivation. Which leaves open the possibility that they genuinely believed that the original version is inferior to some degree. Even if I concede this point, did each and every song on their debut deserve to be re-recorded? I doubt it. Unfortunately, I have not heard the original, and thus cannot comment on the merits of this vis-à-vis the original.

Without this information, I would have regarded this as an above average pagan metal album that would have earned a decent rating. Their style is an old-school sound which borrows from both thrash and heavy. Naturally, a strong selection of folk instruments is used, including acoustic guitar, laul, torupill and kandled -- but not as often as I would have expected. There is little attempt to integrate the folk instrumentation with the metallic sections, and when they do, it is a less than successful merger. This is clearly illustrated in "Mook", which starts as a power ballad before abruptly and clumsily shifting gears into a folk instrumental. The vocalist sings in a clear tone (in Estonian), but overuse of incanted "orhs" and "arhs" add little to the album.

This is sung entirely in their native Estonian tongue, and is apparently a concept album about the lives of ancient Estonians as seen through the eyes of a wolf. Speaking of which, the band name is an old coy euphemism for wolf, meaning "wood creature"; to speak its actual name, hundi, was regarded as tantamount to an invitation to attack.

To summarize, I found this an enjoyable album, but those who have heard the original may feel different. Furthermore, I have yet to hear a re-recorded album that is better than the original, and the reader is urged to remember the caveat expressed in the first paragraph.


(article published 16/10/2007)

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