Folk metal usually falls into one of two categories: laughably cheesy, pirate music, perfect for LARP-ing or Anti-American, pagan victory songs with somewhat nationalist undertones that leave you wondering whether or not the band is insanely racist. Despite their horrible sentiments, generally the latter category produces better music. Strangely, however, Finland’s Wolfhorde manages to safely teeter on the outskirts of each style of folk metal while also adding a unique flavor to their sound. Wolfhorde’s dynamic is interesting as it fuses an exacerbated Gothenburg atmosphere with a somewhat elementary attempt at folk.
In many ways, “Toward the Gates of North” borders on becoming cheesy with unoriginal flute sections that sound like watered down attempts to duplicate Temnozor and banal riffs that acted more as filler than anything else. What differentiated this album, however, was the odd Gothenburg influence woven throughout the mix. I was reluctant to say this, as I made a similar comparison in a recent review, but in many parts “Toward the Gates of North” sounds identical to “Character” era Dark Tranquility.
Although it may appear that I have nothing but criticism for this band and their latest release, that’s simply not the case. I found myself mildly head banging more than a few times while listening to this album. Wolfhorde did manage to meet the rawness and power I look for in black/folk metal a few times, specifically in the track entitled “Taivaankappelaiden Kato”. Sadly, those moments were short-lived, leaving me longing for more. Listening to this album wasn’t an unfortunate experience, and to interpret this review that way would be a mistake, but rather, it was an unmemorable experience. Even the Nordic lyrical themes seemed a bit uninspired. Still, I would recommend this album to fans of both melodeath and the softer side of folk metal. “Toward the Gates North” is due to be released on January 22 of this year. Watch out for it on Inverse Records.