Romuvos – The Baltic Crusade

Romuvos hail from Lituania and Germany and deliver listeners rather hypnotic, but extremely catchy folk oriented rock/ viking metal. While lots of groups in this genre tend to lean towards the melo death or black metal tinged side of things such as Ensiferum or Enslaved, Romuvos are more in the middle ground, relying on simple groove riffs, chant like clean vocals, and melodica and hurdy gurdy moments to really enhance the folk moments of the album. It might be hard to consider their third album “The Baltic Crusade” as a metal one, but it still provides a very interesting listen. One could easily compare its sound to the likes of groups like Heidevolk, and the overall hypnotic quality of the tone is sure to draw in new listeners as well as keep the old. Despite a few line up changes since the last album, the sound compared to previous efforts is pretty much the same.

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 

Reviewer: Colin McNamara

Nov 11, 2020

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Romuvos – The Baltic Crusade

review Romuvos - The Baltic Crusade

1. Saule (1236)
2. Memel (1257)
3. Skuodas (1259)
4. Durbe (1260)
5. Pukarwis (1261)
6. The Baltic Crusade
7. Lubawa (1263)
8. Karuse (1270)
9. Aizkraukle (1279)

3.5

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