ManegarmI’m not quite sure why eight albums into their career a band would simply self-title their album. It strikes as a statement that they are completely re-inventing themselves or are just plain lazy really and there’s no real hint of the former here. It would have been a good idea perhaps calling this after the best track on it ‘Odin Owes Ye All’ but nope Einherjer got there first, how about another track title ‘Allfader’ nope there’s a band called that too. Not doing very well here are we, sod it Månegarm will do then! We know just what to expect from this Swedish Viking crew anyway and album number eight quickly establishes itself and shows little really in the way of surprises.

Opener Blodörn (hmmm how about Blood Eagle for a title, nope) sets up folky instrumental campfire renaissance fayre sounds with traditional trimmings before bravado is enforced with swaggering beats and the twang of a Jew’s harp. Erik Grawsiö provides the necessary guttural vocals and things set in at a slow to mid-paced furrow with clean harmonic croons over the top. Yep it’s all pleasant enough and the melodic side of things is pretty central to it no doubt getting young warriors waving plastic swords on tour. And herein lays the main problem as things go on, this never breaks into a full galloping heathen cleave, there are too many whimsical twee parts and the clash of steel and blood lust never really bites in. Listening to music like this I want to feel the fear and trembling as the blood of enemies starts to flow. I want epic Game Of Thrones Metal and not ale swilling sing-alongs, alas the tears of widows doth not drench proceedings here!

If you want a jolly jig around like a village fool then numbers like Tagen av Daga certainly deliver the goods and perhaps I am being a miserable bastard and should just join in with the frolicking tomfoolery of it all. The Odin song certainly is a tribute worthy of the gods themselves with a catchy chorus that could only be improved by Brian Blessed roaring out the title. It’s all rather Amon A light to my ears and I already think that lot are light as a rubber axe anyway so…. But it’s fun! From then on we go from traditional sounding crooners which are far too mellow for their own good and will have you falling asleep and setting yourself ablaze around the campfire and sudden surges like ‘Call Of The Runes’ which at least have some chops about them. I guess on the whole this is all a bit too commercial though and those looking for the real guts should stick to the likes of Unleashed and Helheim for their Viking pagan fix. However I think Månegarm would be a perfect band for developing an interest in history in those at school and they at least have a flair of authenticity about them. Either that or someone who enjoys happy clappy stuff rather than a grim bastard like me!

(6.5/10 Pete Woods)