Romuvos – The Baltic Crusade
Leaning towards more of a concept album this round, each track seems like a piece of history for listeners to sink into. Most of them are about battle and chaos, but the overall marching pace of the music and the rather calmness of the vocal delivery which feels like a Viking chant all the way through kind of betrays that ideal. When hearing a piece like ‘Saule’ or ‘Skoudas’ the percussive beat with the thick riffs and clean vocals it is easy to get lost in it. It won’t quite put one to sleep, but it doesn’t exactly rouse the listener compared to other acts who perform the more ferocious side of folk metal like Eluveitie do. Other tracks like ‘Memel’ include more backing folk instruments versus just guitar riffs and percussion, but the vocals and pace tend to stay the same as the album progresses. The title track changes the vocals up a little bit and injects some samples to wake listeners up, but the hypnotic quality is still very strong. Sometimes too strong as it is very hard to head bang to this kind of music, but one can’t help but nod along.
The only track that really stands out compared to the other is the closing ‘Aizkraukle.’ Maybe it is the epic tone or a shift in pace or instrumental work, but the shift from endless marching thump is a welcome sound, especially with the ghostly vocal tones. As a result, listeners really have to be into the folk side of metal to enjoy this, which can be a little droning. The tracks are in no way bad- the rhythm is there, and the vocals are fantastic and about as ‘viking’ as one can get- but the variety between tracks is lacking. The album feels like one big long march to battle versus 9 separate ones. Still, Romuvos take the best elements of viking rock tinged with metal and present a strong album that plods along with strong force and is sure to make metal fans take a more interested look at the historical side of Lithuania with a fitting soundtrack behind it.
3.5 / 5 STARS