Moons ago I was confused by ‘pagan’ metal but over the years I have come to love it like a deformed child. Take this debut by Dvalin; it’s got solid death metal sounds yet it’s overlaid with bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy and the shawm (some kind of olde worlde flute). It opens with crunchy footsteps and dripping water in cavernous halls (I’m guessing cavernous halls because the press release tells me that Dvalin refers to a legendary dwarf of Norse mythos). There’s a jaunty battery of drums and – here it comes! Hurdy-fucking-gurdy! All of this jolliness is supplemented with further jaunty guitars; it’s like The Waterboys having a big love-in with Korpiklaani. And thus runs Das Heer aus der Tiefe, slipping into Redeemed by Oblivion which has a much more death metal feel to it with chunky drum patterns and vocal. Yet there’s still a mischievous jolliness to it all. I like it. There’s a mellow bit – admittedly the transitions from the madder sections to the gentler sections are a bit clunky but the tune moves along so swiftly that this minor misdemeanour is forgotten almost immediately.
There’s more hurdy-gurdy and bagpipes in Omen (Part 1) which are quickly replaced with a more traditional metal riff. And yes, more bagpipes. It’s still got that pagan/folky feel but it’s strangely alluring. I must admit that I was concerned that the pipes etc would be overdone but I’m really getting into this. Dammit! Where’s my horn of mead? Omen… even gets a bit funky in the middle. Its little surprises like this that keep me wholly engaged with this album. Schopfer des Nichts starts with all manner of acoustic guitars and synth. It’s all haunting and ghost-like but soon goes stompingly mad with an almost rasping black metal vocal. Oof! Then it goes off somewhere else. Such fun!
It’s this tendency to zip off in unexpected directions that holds this album together (take the funky bass drop in Zwergenfolk as a prime example of this) and I’m not ashamed to say that I’m loving it – and with ten tracks, each with enough diversity to keep you listening, I must raise my horn (ooer!) and toast these fellows. A damn fine debut album.
Aus Dem Schatten is out now on NoiseArt Records