From the cold, mountainous region of Norway hails the folk metal band Arvinger. In 2011, Arvinger released Helgards Fall, a folk metal album infused with viking elements. While cohesive, it suffered from poor production quality and lack of distribution. After a six year gap, Arvinger has finally released new music in the form of an EP entitled Rast. Folk metal is a fairly niche genre, and outside the Ensiferums and Finntrolls of the metal world, it's hard to become noticed.
Arvinger is also a folk metal band claiming Christian roots -- and the Christian folk metal bands that exist can probably be counted on two hands. For comparison, Rast sounds like an early version of Holy Blood crossed with Evroklidon. The folk elements, including keys, violin, and female vocals, are all standard fare for this subgenre of metal. The vocalist, Djerv, shrieks in a similar manner to the now defunct black metal band Evroklidon's voalist Artaaroth. Djerv sounds like he is in physical pain as he screams in a high octave, which delivers a sonic attack that will have any metal fan headbanging in no time. This diatribe is softened by the symphonic and folk elements. For an EP, Rast does a tremendous job of establishing atmosphere and ambiance.
The album begins with the title track, and fades in to mellow operatic singing. Then, a full viking metal composition assaults the ears. In the middle of the song, female vocals help to create an almost epic atmosphere. The initial verdict? "Rast" is a solid opener. "Til Evig Tid" opens with violin dueling against the guitar, reminiscent of Eluveitie. Throughout the song, the guitar work is solid, providing rhythmic backing to the folk aspects.
After hitting the loud dynamics full throttle, it's time for the EP to quiet down a bit. "Bifrost" is a short instrumental Antestor style, meaning that it's a composition that can stand alone and is downright beautiful. Now it's time for Rast's finisher. "Blodspakt" has a really unique intro in which the percussion and keys shine. Once again, the Evroklidon influence is notable, as the shrieked vocals take a background to a strong rhythmic guitar line. The song smooths out into a catchy folk metal tune with enough impetus to wrap things up.
Overall, Rast is a strong effort from these Norwegian metallers. It's unwise to draw too many conclusions from an EP, but if this is the direction that the band is headed in, it's a good one. Rast is definitely more accessible than Helgards Fall, and will hopefully get the band noticed by a record label. If you're into folk, viking, or black metal, there are elements on the EP that you will no doubt enjoy. Don your spangenhelm, set your face into your best Viking grimace, and get ready to bang your head!