- - - - - -

Wolfarian - Far Away in the North

Wolfarian - CD Review
Far Away in the North

Wolfarian - Far Away in the North

CD Info
Independent Release
11 tracks
English lyrics

Couple months ago I spent some time at sea on the 71,000 Tons of Metal cruise. Lot of good music there, but one of the things I was introduced to in a significant way was Viking Metal. It was clearly a very popular style of music with bands like the Swiss bands Abinchova and Elu-vieitie, the German band Subway to Sally, Swedish bands Thyrifing and Twilight Force, Tyr from the Faroe Islands and Turisas from Finland. And, of course, Arkona from Russia. Now some of these would be considered folk metal in some respects, but, I noticed the same people seemed to be attracted to each of these bands, and knew every word, and they were mostly Northern Euro-peans. So, some might not be specifically Viking in nature, but they sure sounded a lot alike. Well, that’s the sound we get here with Wolfarian, both in terms of the music and the lyrical themes. And, when you give me pictures of Viking ships at sea fighting sea monsters, and your lyrics talk about Viking battles, I gotta think there’s an element of Viking metal in your presenta-tion. I asked the band about this musical direction and they replied: “Me and our keyboardist and composer Radek are inspired by Viking mythology and Celtic mythology, so we based our music around these two themes. Our first album ¨Far Away in the North¨ is from perspective of Vikings and every song follows one bigger story, so we wanted to be more melancholic music.”

Wolfarian is not a small band. There are 8 full time members covering a range of instruments in-cluding flute, violin, keyboards, guitar, bass and drums. There are two primary vocalists, and all have names most Americans probably can’t pronounce, they’re Czech doncha know. The band talked about some of their musical background: “Our band is composed mainly from people knowing their instruments and playing for a very long time. Our composer Radek has master de-gree from music theory and now actively teaching in schools, David has a father playing in folk music so he was taught classical guitar since he was kid, Diana studied flute in Art school, same goes for our violin player Pavel and finaly our female vocalist Zdenka who is singing since third grade, then concerting with classical guitar and singing in choir before she came to us”. That's a lot of musical talent. And, on this release, the band augments their sound with some significant guest musicians working a violenchello, a Jew’s Harp, another violin and a few other instruments I haven’t previously encountered. Oh, and there’s a pretty significant choral element with at least 11 people with names I couldn’t pronounce with a year’s practice. But, they know their business so my lack of understanding is my problem, not theirs.

The release is a first for the group, and, although there is a lot to like here there area few times when their lack of experience shows. That’s not to suggest this isn’t a worthwhile release, it most certainly is. And, since most of the Viking metal bands I encountered on the cruise were male fronted, this is certainly a fine example of the genre for those of us who have an interest in the female fronted approach.

That said, the vocals on this release are pretty much equally shared by the male and female vocals. And, some of this is purely instrumental in nature. Remember, there are two vocalists, but there are a lot more instrumental folks. So, let’s take a look at what’s available on this release.

The release begins with a quick intro called Prologue, a purely classical track with a serious Vi-king overtone. They pretty much tell you what's coming, and it's a nice introduction.

But, this is a Viking band, and, as I recall from the 70kToM cruise, those damn Vikings like to party. So, you tend to get a lot of danceable music, as evidenced by their main video from this release, Valhöll. This is clearly a stage band, and, with those interestingViking women running around, I'd pay to see them. That truly lovely female vocalist is Zdenka Motáčková and she is a stunner, visually and musically. The male vocals are Karel Peltán and he's pretty good too. I prefer his death metal growling to his spoken parts and I suspect that may be a direction we'll see more of in later productions. Oh, and that flute ain't all that bad either.

The band also does a more traditional sound, one that emphasizes the lovely. And, with that sol-id female vocal, they have a lot to work with. Homecoming gives us both the vocals and the flute, and the result is a truly interesting sound, Celtic in many respects, but, I guess that's a part of the Vi-king perspective as well.

Sky of Waves is another that lets us listen to that solid female vocal. This one talks of the Viking adventure, it presents a sound to take us to the sea where the Viking ship is tossed by the waves on the voyage to conquest and plunder. Interestingly, the CD booklet presents some really interesting visuals to accompany the lyrics, and this one is one of the best. And those lyrics, well, they go like this:

There are all powers vain / Of the mortal men
There ain´t no aid of the gods /In this pitch black emptiness
Fear flowing through our flesh / fear of the oncoming fray
there where´s the sky of waves

There are some tracks that sure sound to me like Celtic. Of course, I'm not sure what the differ-ence is. But tracks like Clemency provide something I would have to suggest would be more than well received at an Irish pub. It's an Irish sound, lots of flute stuff with a generous amount of string. Lovely, to be sure.

Other tracks like The Parley take us to a more direct interpretation of the dark Viking. This one gives us that interaction between the male growler and the female beauty, over a crushing metal. Lyrically we get:

Can't you feel? Are you blind?
I am not fellow of yours Give me now what is mine
Otherwise you will die One leader‘s blood, one brotherhood, don‘t blemish my heart and my soul
Look, one Nordic frozen land, two tribes and hate which dominates.. Save your tears for the day
You will kneel by my reign / Are you afraid of my rage? / You´re nothing, but coward

Viking metal, I'm guessing most of the folks who listen to this band know every word.

One of the strengths of the release is the epic. This is Viking after all, and Wolfarian seems to understand what is required of this approach to the metal. For Our Fate is one of the more repre-sentative of this approach to the metal. We get solid vocals from both vocalists, we get some in-teresting metal, we get instrumental material from the rest of the band to enhance the listening experience. And the lyrics don't disappoint:

We, we will battle for this day / For our fate, the sky up there
Know that gods are on our side / Cause runes they never lie
As, as long we have all those gods / We don‘t give up, take our chance
See foes like servile poor worms / Cannot stop us in this war

Other tracks on the release are largely instrumental. Mortis Nobiscum provides us with a strong example of what Viking metal sounds like without a significant lyrical component. And Morri-gan puts a Celtic step in our day, mainly thanks to that solid flute. If this doesn't put you out on the dance floor, consult your psychiatrist for further details. You have problems.

I've really wanted to do something with an emphasizes on the Viking ever since the 70K ToM cruise, and, damn sure, Wolfarian has given me that opportunity. This is NOT Gothic, it's not Death metal, it's not Doom. It's fookin Viking. And, the more I listen, the more I like it. If you're from Northern Europe it's probably nothing new. For the rest of us, give it a listen. . . . it grows on you.