We find ourselves basking happily in Viking/Folk Metal territory with Grimner’s third full-length offering “Frost Mot Eld”…and I’m a sucker for a bit of well executed Folk Metal! These mighty Metal marauders mix harsh and clean vocals, over heavy guitars, bass and drums, but also include a wonderful amount of twiddly pipes and whistles. Grimner embrace the genre, image and lifestyle with total conviction, there’s not a dry glass in the house.
Grimner have it covered. Whether you favour the Folk or the Pagan/Viking, it’s the METAL that matters. Each song is a Metal song – the guitar comes first and the pipes/whistles are an added, yet essential bonus. As there are both kind of vocals, I suppose you could say that vocally Grimner have the feel of Ensiferum and Tyr playing in the same song…musically too at times, but with Eluvietie and Equilibrium chipping in too. But that’s just the basis, there’s times the band are more than happy to veer off into Korpiklaani style merriment (like in the bouncing heavy-humppa of ‘Mörkrets Hem’), but are just as at ease embracing the down-tuned power and aggression of Amon Amarth (‘Muspelheims Härskare’ is a good example, along with the speedier parts of ‘Nordmännens Raseri’). By now the more perceptive of you will have noticed that either my spellchecker has gone haywire or the band sing in their native Swedish. It is of course the latter, which actually seems to suit the music – it just sounds more natural.
One thing the dual vocal style gives a band is the tendency for the old “growl the verse, sing the chorus” blueprint, a tactic that Grimner would be remiss to ignore and when they use it, it’s to great effect, but it’s not always the pattern they follow. The aforementioned ‘Nordmännens Raseri’ lets the flute melody carry the fabulous chanted chorus, leaving the clean vocals to kick in towards the middle part of the song, ‘Enhärjarkväde’ (with it’s brilliantly Running Wild style intro riff) switches the blueprint around and ‘Vargarnas Tid’ pretty much eschews the clean vocals altogether – all three, as with the rest of the tracks, are great compositions. Sometimes the traditional instruments hammer out their own path, usually over the heavy backing, but other times they twin with the guitar or echo it’s lines, which makes sure the tracks root themselves fully in the Metal camp and is another factor in each track maintaining it’s own identity and interest.
I’ve already singled out many tracks, but I really must return to the beginning and give mention to the album’s two openers, as I found they set the scene for the whole album perfectly. ‘Res Er Mina Söner’ and it’s skippier, trippier follower ‘Eldhjärta’ seem to typify what Grimner are all about and leave the listener in no doubt that they are in for a quirky and powerful feel-good ride of an album, full of intoxicating melodies, rich guitar playing, intricate drums and traditional sounding folk licks. Grimner lift your spirits, as any band this good at their craft should, but they do it with such musical optimism and fun…yet still manage to maintain that underlying aggression and ferocity that’s so important and can be lacking when folk elements are introduced. Grimner have got the balance perfect, blended it all into some extremely enjoyable songs and have come out with one damn good album! So unsheathe your mighty weapon, raise it to the sky and give it a good polish! Despite their name, It’s hard to be glum when Grimner are playing.
(8.5/10 Andy Barker)