Skyforger - _Thunderforge (Perkonkalve)_
(Folter Records, 2003)
by: James Montague (9 out of 10)
One of the most refreshing bands to hit the metal scene in the past decade, Skyforger have been flying the flag of Latvian metal since 1995. They have also seemingly taken on the burden of educating the world in the ancient pagan ways of their homeland, with an official website bursting at the seams with notes on symbology, folklore and customs; and music that incorporates several traditional arrangements into a modern metal form, plus a wide variety of traditional folk instruments adding to the authenticity.

There's a shameless celebratory aspect to _Thunderforge_ -- for instance, the instrumental "Long Dance" is an adaptation of an old wedding dance tune, and "Oh Fog, Oh Dew" is also nuptial-based, in this case telling the story of the Moon's union with the Sun's daughter. Very few bands in the extreme metal field would dare to allow such positivity to creep into their songwriting, but Skyforger are a determined bunch, and this ambitious venture succeeds in every regard. From the immense power-chord marches of "When Usinš Rides" and "Through the Gates of the World Beyond" to the more black-metal tremolo stylings of "Warlord of the Night Sky" (a tribute to that great black metal icon, the Moon) and the joyous folk melodies, the album flows together like the cycle of life in the world of Mother Nature that Skyforger hold so dear. I can almost feel the crackle of flames from the campfire as I sit with my pagan brothers, drink to the gods above and reflect upon the many wonders of the world around me. Of course, I can't sit for long, when such kickarse metal riffs are bursting out of the soil. And so we have "pagan metal".

The most evil or ferocious record of 2003? Certainly not. But _Thunderforge_ is an album of such impeccable craftmanship and uplifting energy; the kind of record that will always stir me out of my melancholic haze and get me bouncing off the walls again. Being Latvian hasn't helped Skyforger gain a massive worldwide following, but it has inspired them to produce some truly outstanding music.


(article published 31/5/2004)

2/25/2011 C Drishner 7 Skyforger - Kurbads
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