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Metal throws up many feelings and emotions. I´ve found that certain areas of the World possess bands that for me create visual sounds. If that makes no sense, let me try and explain. One band in particular are the Lithuanian Pagan Metal band Ha Lela. Their music, to my mind, creates visions of dancing naked around an open fire whilst partaking in a Pagan ritual. A recent release, Korpikaani - Voice of Wilderness created visions of wild living and partying in dense Finnish woodlands. In between these two countries (not forgetting Latvia) is Estonia. Now I´m not sure what is about that part of Europe, but they´ve done it again. But instead of me trying to wax lyrical about the visions this music instils in me, Metsatoll have done it for me. If you go to their website, download the video for Hundi Loomine (which translates as Creation of the Wolf) because not only do you get images of said animal, but you also get a ragtag collection of sack wearing hairy people stomping around in marshy woods and a ritualistic gathering around an open fire and boiling pot, no doubt used to creation potions of magical substance. And before you think I´ve spent the afternoon on mushrooms, let me delve deeper into this Estonian World of folklore and Metal.
With the music this thought provoking, it´s nice that the good people of Metsatoll have included both translations to the songs (everything is in Estonian, including the lyrics) and descriptions to what each song is about. The biog, which is in a very nice A5 fold out full colour card adds details about the bands history and beliefs. Hiiekoda is an album based on Estonian folklore and is a perfect combination of folk, including traditional bagpipes and Metal. Dealing with the Metal side of the bands sound, think a ritualistic tribal sound, but this time Baltic in texture, not South American in sound as Sepultura championed and a very individual nationalistic sound that had me thinking of an Eastern European equivalent of both Iron Maiden and New Model Army!!!
The folklore side ranges from the early 20th Century traditional opener Ma Laulaks Seda Luguda to the harsher battle tones which punctuate the next two numbers. But these rallying calls are a far cry from the other side of the albums coin which includes songs about "a bagpipe tune about a guy up a tree" and "singing and the splendour of life".
But even with the descriptions given so far, I´ve just starting scratching the surface of this very unique album. Off kilter rhythms, including bagpipes taking the place of lead guitars, traditional chanting, tales of war, nationalistic pride and tales of olde are cocooned in a sound which is definitely Metal in nature, but as far away from the brutality created by Western bands as you could imagine. Even the thrashier number such as Sojahunt have a completely different feel to them. Of course this is aided by the use of a language with is alien to most of us.
With my knowledge of the Baltic States limited to Lithuania (where I have to visit the famous Hill of Crosses), I think it´s time to discover what the other Baltic States have to offer. Because if Metsatoll are an example of what we are missing out on, then there are a lot of great undiscovered bands waiting to be unearthed. And an album like this has not only peaked my interest in the music, it has also whetted my appetite for the Country and it´s history. I recommend every second of this fascinating album.

Author: Steve Green
Zine: Live 4 Metal

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