Grab your mead-filled horns, Brothers of Metal are back for round two!
When I stumbled upon Brothers of Metal’s Yggdrasil video back in 2018 I couldn’t quite fathom what was happening. Stomping through the woods and clad in deer skin, here were eight musicians, three of them vocalists, churning out the cheesiest song I’d heard all year. The female singer sounded great but it was hard to take the other two singers seriously. One of them rasped throughout the entire song, sounding equally ludicrous and epic whilst the other just whispered some narrative parts here and there. It was the silliest thing I’d seen and heard for a long time and I couldn’t help but laugh it off. The song, however, stuck and begged for repeated listens and gradually I came to love the Swedes brand of power metal and storytelling. I still play their debut album Prophecy of Ragnarok regularly and was quite keen when I learned that their sophomore effort was on the way.
Brothers of Metal hails from Falun, Sweden, which is the same place Sabaton come from. It can’t be a coincidence then that the basic building blocks of their music is the same. With a few exceptions you are treated to largely mid-tempo power metal with a big helping of keyboards to give the songs a more epic feel. Where Sabaton’s schtick is singing about war, these cheesemongers tell tales of drinking mead, Norse mythology and the Viking life. The 2018 debut was entertaining enough but was marred by a couple of duds, ultimately making its fifty minute length feel overlong. It’s ultimate saving grace was the massive talent of vocalist Ylva Eriksson and just how fun the entire thing was. Brothers of Metal can switch from earnest and epic to incredibly silly in a heartbeat and they aren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves, and that tongue-in-cheek attitude really elevate the material to a higher level.
Whilst Prophecy of Ragnarok was a good album, there was always the sense that these guys could do better, and I’m pleased to say that Emblas Saga is a better album in every sense. The songwriting is tighter and more coherent, there’s more variation and range to the material and the overall quality of the songs is a lot higher. Where Prophecy of Ragnarok sagged in places and felt too long, Emblas Saga keeps things interesting and feels like it’s over in a breeze despite being five minutes longer. Another added bonus is the larger role Ylva Eriksson gets on this album, who really gets a chance to shine here. Lending gravitas to big choruses or adding a Clannad-like vibe to the more quiet moments, her range is impressive and her contributions on Emblas Saga nothing short of stellar.
Helping to keep things interesting is the variation in the twelve songs (plus intro) and the overall flow of the album. There’s a few mid-tempo stompers, a ballad, a couple of fast-paced neckbreakers and some metal hymns in between and the balance is just about perfect. Kicking things off are two dark and heavy mid-tempo songs full of meaty riffing and gruff Viking shouts to set the mood before Chainbreaker changes pace to some up-tempo, eighties-vibe metal. The other really quick track on Emblas Saga is Ride of the Valkyries, which sports some very Accept-like guitar work and is great fun. The rest of the album is significantly slower in pace, with Weaver of Fate being the only ballad. My personal favourites at the time of writing are the more epic sounding tracks like the title track, One and the closing song To the Skies and Beyond. These tracks are bigger on orchestration and larger than life melodies, making them stand out amongst the rest. Be assured that there is no bad track on Emblas Saga at all though, every one of these songs really hits the mark. This stuff is catchy as hell and will lodge itself into your membrane whether you want it to or not.
With Emblas Saga, Brothers of Metal have expanded and improved greatly on their debut and delivered a truly excellent power metal album. Perhaps even more important is that it’s also fun as hell. Playful and serious at once, it provides a heavy metal rollercoaster ride through Norse mythology. Things might get stupid along the way, with lyrics like He woke up in fear and doubt, Hammerless and mad / “Give it back at once you thief / Or I’ll go tell my dad” from Theft of the Hammer delivered in all earnesty always being good for a snigger or two, but it helps in keeping things light and playful and just add to the enjoyment. They even manage to sneak in a “hammer time” near the end of that same song. Equal parts silly, solemn, epic and heavy, Emblas Saga is a must listen for fans of catchy, raise-your-fist-type power metal and I for one can’t wait to see these guys live on the festival stages this summer. Horns up!
Label: AFM Records, 2020
- Brood of the Trickster (01:56)
- Powersnake (03:43)
- Hel (04:40)
- Chain Breaker (03:53)
- Kaunaz Dagaz (04:13)
- Theft of the Hammer (04:10)
- Weaver of Fate (04:45)
- Njord (03:50)
- Emblas Saga (07:14)
- Brothers Unite (04:06)
- One (04:17)
- Ride of the Valkyries (03:26)
- To the Skies and Beyond (04:53)
- Ylva Eriksson – vocals
- Joakim Eriksson – vocals
- Mats Nilsson – vocals
- Dawid Grahn – guitars
- Pahr Nilsson – guitars
- Mikael Fehrm – guitars
- Emil Warmedal – bass
- Johan Johansson – drums
Review by Ralph Plug
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