Wars, battles, and mythology are important parts of metal’s ever-expansive DNA, and every band that’s able to add capably to that should be welcomed into any fan’s home. Most of us cannot get enough of those topics, and there is no such thing as our hearts being too full new adventures.
With Sweden’s Eldkraft having swung in with their riveting debut record “Shaman,” we have yet another band bringing us Pagan adventures, battle-scarred hymns, and blood-surging anthems that should capture your heathen heart in no time. If you’re into bands like Primordial, Tyr, later-era Bathory, and even Amon Amarth and Bolt Thrower (more for their philosophies than their sounds), you probably will be more than excited to tackle this 10-track, 57-minute album that’s chock full of melodies and glory. It should be noted that those of us who speak English only will be scrambling to understand everything going on, as the lyrics are mainly comprised in their native tongue, but that won’t prevent you from being swept up in the emotion of it all.
Eldkraft’s core is comprised of vocalist/keyboard player J. Sandin and guitarist/bassist H. Karlsson, who play together in other groups such as Horde of Hel and Odhinn, bands with similar ideas and inspiration dug up on “Shaman” but that don’t quite take things to the level the boys do with Eldkraft. N. Fjellstrom also played drums on the record, and combined, these forces sound promising as far as the future is concerned, and they already have a pretty good grasp on how to make a dramatic, swelling record. One slight drawback is the record feels a little too long in places and loses some of its effect as it stretches toward its finish. I think it would have worked better at eight tracks. But that’s just me, and musically, I have no other complaints with this fine new band.
“Gammal Krigare” opens the album with a power metal-style assault, gruff clean vocals from Sandin, some harmonizing over the chorus, and strong Pagan melodies that righteously introduce you to the band and set the stage for what’s to come. “Undrets Tid” rips open with rousing drums and the feeling that troops are amassing for a Dark Ages-era battle. The track has a strong dose of brutality, and the strong leads glisten on top of the chaos, with Sandin’s vocals driving everything home. “Fate’s Door” is sung in English and reminds me of heyday-era Dio, with power-infused guitars and fist-pumping emotions swelling. “Moder Liv Till Grav” is built on folk-friendly guitar work that’s both violent and surging, and the vocals hit a level of passionate bellowing in which you can’t help but get caught up. “Ursprungskallan” runs a little over seven minutes and begins with a deliberate, calculating pace. It gets atmospheric but crunchy, and it spends its time going back and forth from sweltering to punishing.
“Patterns,” another track sung in English, opens with folk-style acoustic strumming, but eventually the storm arrives and spills everywhere. Doomy horns rise up, guitars get chugging, and the drums blister your face. It’s a darker-sounding track, one that’s full of foreboding chaos, and it leads to the front door of “Granslos Grans.” Drums explode from the moment that song lands, and the exploratory guitar work and emotional vocals get the message across no matter what languages you speak. “Grey Man” has a thick bassline that snakes through the center, deeper clean vocals from Sandin, and a landscape that reminds of modern-day Iron Maiden. “I Dodens Famn” has a charged-up open, one that bursts with electricity but that isn’t particularly fast, and the slower pace continues through the song’s lifespan, adding greater senses of drama and doomsday visions. Closer “Rimthurs” is an outro piece with tribal chanting and droning throat rumbling, and it caps off the record nicely as it lets you bask in the glow of war glory.
This is a nice debut from Eldkraft, one that’s sure to find favor amongst the Pagan metal crowds and Wacken enthusiasts. Their emotion cannot be questioned, their approach is pretty spot on, and even if the record is a little long, it’s a minor thing that doesn’t overshadow the good about “Shaman.” There’s a lot to like about Eldkraft, and if they can iron out some of the wrinkles in the future, they could be a glorious band to behold.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Eldkraftband
To buy the album, go here: http://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords
For more on the label, go here: http://www.metalblade.com/us/