Manegarm Legions of the North

ManegarmLegions of the North
Swedish pagan metal warriors Manegarm offer up seventh album Legions of the North at an incongruous time of year. While the record evokes vivid images of snowbound warriors marching across the tundra, frost clinging to sword blades and beards, most the world is simmering in the first real heat waves of the summer. As such, Legions of the North comes across more refreshing than it deserves, the admittedly unoriginal take on battle metal — all acerbic vocals, thundering drums and riffs that conjure blood on the snow — a welcome relief from the punishing heat. The Swedes save folk instrumentation for flourishes and dramatic effect, deploying them sparingly, preferring to build most of their sound upon a strong blackened death metal base. There's a ravenousness nature to this record, a crawling hunger that adds an extra edge to the title track and even greater urgency to the martial drive of "Hordes of Hel." Acoustic, folk-inspired closer "Raadh" adds an extra touch of reflectiveness to the otherwise bloody, battle-glorifying record, the sound of freezing wind mingling with the final wail of a woman's voice. (Napalm)