For those who don't know folk metal is a sub-genre of power metal, where it keeps the sangs about war and magic and whatnot, but adds elements of either folk instruments or folkish ideals. The instruments include the flute, accordion, banjo, mandolin, violin, as well as native folk instruments like Latavian kokle, the Estonian torupill, the Finnish kantele, the oud and the saz. There are many different sub-classes of folk metal, with alot of different genres integrating folk sounds into their music. Most keep to that same idea of musical topics, most choosing a particular avenue to head down and stick with it. Many sing a mix of traditional songs of their homeland (or the homeland they which to emulate) and songs that are originals, but still have that old-time sound to them, well most of them, I doubt there was alot of heavy metal pirates in the 17th century.
Although I have alot of folk metal, some of it is way out there, so far that I can't really get behind it (Empylver - Wood Woud Would. God that was so weird). But these are a few of the artists that I have been listening to over and over.
- Skyclad - The pioneer of folk metal, if it wasn't for these guys, folk metal wouldn't be what it is today, so much thanks for Skyclad for existing. Right from their first album, you knew that this was going to hang on. All of their songs are super folky, with several instruments and different chord progressions per song. I haven't heard too much of this group (I only have two albums, Wayward Sons of Mother Earth and A Burnt Offering For The Bone Idol), but what I have heard I have enjoyed thoroughly.
- Turisas - A Finnish folk metal band, named after the Finnish god of war, these guys' first album, titled Battle Metal, solidified their place in the folk metal halls. With songs of battle (as you may have guessed), chanting marching music, and hymn to the gods, Turisas is everything that is right with folk metal. They have both growled lyrics and melodic singing, often times with melodies that remind me of bards singing in castles of old. Their second release, The Varangian Way, continued their mauling of the airwaves. This release was more melodic then their last venture, which to me is a good thing. I can't wait for their next release, I hope it is soon.
- Tyr - Tyr is more laid back then most on this list. While they do perform folk metal, it is often times slower, long pieces, with several parts throughout. Their music is closer to what I envision the music of the medieval times to be. Lots of harmonies, both in vocals as well in instruments. I only have two of their albums, How Far To Asgaard (the title track is my favorite by them), and Ragnarok (as the title suggests, this album was more up-tempo then the previous). They have a new album out this year, scheduled for April, and had one come out last year (which I did not know about until this writing). I'm going to do my best to find these albums, because I like their music, and because I am seeing them and Alestorm (see below) live on March 1, in Orlando.
- Alestorm - A new band in the small sub-sub-genre of pirate metal. These guys keep up the flag that bands like Running Wild have hoisted. Their debut album, Captain Morgan's Revenge, was a (cannon)ball's to the wall joy ride of rum and treasure. Every song off that album is good. My favorites are the title track and "Nancy The Tavern Wench." I recently received their new EP, Leviathan, and was glad to see that it was along the same lines as their full-length. I can't wait to see them live, I'm sure they will be amazing.
- Falconer - Falconer was one of the first (if not the very first) folk metal band I'd ever heard. It was 3 years ago (almost exactly) and I had just discovered the marvels of Last.FM. I was blown away by this new genre I had found. It was a long time before I heard anymore of their stuff, only catching a song here or there on my web radio, but just this past December, I found their entire discography. So I am working my way through their albums, and I like what I am hearing. I will continue listening and enjoying the symphonic folk.