4 July 2017


After indulging in recent CDs I was given, I came across a truly astounding bit of music. In the collection, were three compilations of Latvian folk musicians. Within one of these fateful CDs I came across two recordings 'Ei skija, skija' and 'Senprusija' by the folk/pagan metal band Skyforger. Now, my previous encounters with folk metal were generally negative, mostly because with other bands, the inclusion of folk music or folk instruments just seems a tad gimmicky or just simply out of place.

This being said, every once in a while you find something that just throws previous thinking completely out of the window. The discovery of Skyforger for me, was very much akin to discovering Apocalyptica. Four cellists playing metal!? Hearing that you'd think it would be like a load of Dads trying to get down with the kids, but Apocalyptica nailed it and continue to do so. Skyforger really excite me as a band. I say this knowing that I haven't really come across a metal band that excites me for about 6 or 7 years. There is a good chance it was Apocalyptica or some other symphonic metal band.

So who are Skyforger? The quartet, made up of Latvian musicians, was founded in 1995. Even though the original grouping has changed over the years, the band is still going strong. In their 22 year history, they have released 8 CDs each with various points of focus. The themes cover ancient Latvian war songs, celebrations of pagan Gods, or other elements of local folklore. Within this variety of themes, the group hammer out the usual metal set up of guitars and drums with tons of distortion but Latvian folk instrument stand alongside the instruments pounding out alongside the rest. This includes Latvian pipes, kokles, vargan, and giga. The use of these instruments either serve to depict a moment of historical relevance, set the mood for the musical narrative, or just because a bagpipe solo might be needed.


Now the band have not just full blown thrash metal all the time. There are stunning videos of them doing purely acoustic or 'authentic' folk and it is also a joy to watch. And I feel this is where the band really stands strong. They live and breath the folk music, it is completely soaked into their skins and it emanates into their music.   

The sheer breadth of the band is just a joy to listen to. It definitely makes me feel like I'm fifteen again, blasting out metal into my ears or out of my speakers listening nonstop to my new discovery. I am definitely on the hunt for more folk metal to see if there are other groups that can match Skyforger; I do hope some reside in Lithuania, Latvia, or Estonia so I can have another excuse to chat about metal on this blog. Its definitely a nice change of gear from my usual postings, but I still love it, so I love chatting about it. Hopefully I'll see Skyforger live soon.


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