Metsatöll is the only Estonian metal band that I'm aware of and they started already in the late nineties as a three piece band with Markus on vocals and guitars, Factor on drums and Andrus on bass. The musical style was set to be epic heavy metal with influences from the ancient Estonian folklore. With this line-up the band released their debut album "Terast mis hangund me hinge". In 2000 a long time friend from the band, Varulven, joined Metsatöll. He had tought himself to play on some ancient Estonian folk instruments and together as a four-piece they realized that the heavy metal and the Estonian folk fitted very well together. Since then Metsatöll's music contained more and more folk music including traditional melodies as well as old Estonian runo-singing to make it complete.
After a replacement on the bass guitar the band recorded a new album in 2002 called "Hundi loomi". With this album the band gained lots of positive feedback and even a video was shot. Early 2004 also a new drummer joined the band while the previous one dedicated himself completely to science. Finally towards the end of 2004 the band recorded their latest output "Hiiekoda" which has been released only recently by Estonian's premier record company Nailboard records (a division of Hyper.Records).
"Hiiekoda" is my first introduction to Metsatöll and after having heard this album for the first time I was left behind with mixed feelings. On one hand the music was nice and easy listening music though on the other hand not one single moment from this album stuck to my mind. The album lasts for almost 70 minutes and after those 70 minutes there was nothing memorable left. In a way this was quite disappointing. But I don't give up that easy so I played this album over and over and over and....
After about a week and having heard the album dozens of times I finally have seen the light and all the beauty which "Hiiekoda" contains started to reveal itself bit by bit. Now I'm about 4 weeks further in time and my opinion has changed quite drastically concerning "Hiiekoda". By now the album is absolutely great and enjoyable from the start 'till the end. Maybe because of the unusual ancient traditional folk tunes it was quite difficult to get into the music but when your ears are more and more used to these untraditional melodies they can't get out of your head anymore. The same goes for the vocals. All lyrics are sung in old Estonian runo which sounds quite strange and maybe even annoying in the beginning. But like what I've said about the melodies goes for the vocals as well. By now I really like these kind of vocals and this language.
Music-wise I really can not compare Metsatöll to any other band out there. Imagine epic heavy metal (not the swords and dragons heavy metal!) combined with traditional folk music, played on traditional instruments.
I think it'll be the people into bands like Otyg, Thyrfing, Cruachan and Åsmegin to mention just a few that will be attracted by Metsatöll's music as well. And what is even more impoartant: they won't be disappointed by Metsatöll. Within a bit less than 70 minutes you'll get 18 tracks which all sound equally convincing and enjoyable. Though you'll have to keep in mind what I've said earlier. "Hiiekoda" is an album that needs plenty of time to grow.....but in the end those albums are always the best ones!