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In my never-ending quest to own at least one Folk Metal album from every country, I can now check Estonia off my list! And I check it off my list with tons of respect as this country has given me a fine as hell Folk Metal band with the mighty Metsatoll! Well, does have one slightly Folk Metal band called Loits, but their Folk influence is very slight and they are far from a true Folk Metal band. Metsatoll's new album "Hiiekoda" is the type of album that reaffirms my theory that with so many different styles of Folk music out there from so many different countries, this genre can always remain fresh, relevant and vibrant.

The Metal aspect of "Hiiekoda" is firmly rooted in Traditional and Thrash Metal, and never once does it stray into Black or Death Metal territory. In my opinion these slower and more well structured Metal styles sound a lot better in Folk Metal than Black Metal does. Don't get me wrong, I love Folk Black Metal, but I always find myself liking bands like Korpiklaani, Skyclad, Mago de Oz, etc. a lot more than I do the Folk Black Metal bands simply because the fact that Traditional and Thrash Metal flows better alongside traditional instruments. "Hiiekoda" is like ninety percent downtuned Thrash Metal mixed with ten percent Iron Maiden worship. I hear tons of Maiden influences in terms of the album's riffing and speedy melodies! What reminds me of Iron Maiden the most though is the bass player Kuriraivo's techniques. You'd swear by the way he molests his bass that Steve Harris played on the whole album! The Folk aspect of the album is totally unique compared to anything I've heard before because it is Estonian flavored. This is my first time hearing Estonian Folk music so it's hard to describe it or compare it to other forms of Folk music, but it is beautiful and extremely proud and heroic sounding. If you're a fan of the bagpipes, you'll want to check this album out since they're used quite a lot on it. Some other traditional instruments used on the album are a harpsichord and tin whistle (or some type of flute). "Hiiekoda" is one damn Folky album, so if you're like me and think "The Folkier, the better", you'll adore the music found within this album!

In a cool twist, the vocals found on "Hiiekoda" are even Folkier than the music is! There are a few different styles of clean Folky vocals that all have an Estonian flair. As good as the music is, I think I actually like the vocals more since the Estonian language sounds awesome and made for Folk Metal. There are a few tracks on the album that are almost all vocal tracks, and these even sound great. You have to be a damn good singer to sound this good with no music backing you up! The lyrics deal with Estonian history, magic, battles, sea tales and ancient folklore. While the lyrics are all in their native language, there are brief descriptions of each song in English inside the booklet.

The sound of the album is good for the most part, but the production lacks a bit when it comes to the drum sound. For some reason the drums are a bit too far in the background and sound somewhat muffled. It sounds as if the drummer is playing behind a wall of pillows or in a vacuum or something.

The cover for "Hiiekoda" is kind of cool showing an old time pencil styled drawing of some warriors waging a battle against a three-headed monster of some sort. The inside of the booklet contains all of the lyrics, as well as an English synopsis for each song, like I stated earlier. The paper used to print the lyric booklet is made out of some type of cardboard material. I kind of like this style of paper as it adds a matte finish to everything printed within the booklet. Funny thing though is that over the years I've gotten at most I think one or two similar cardboard booklets with CD's I've purchased, and in the last month I've gotten three CD's that have this style of booklet. It must be a trend of sorts, or something.

This album was actually released in 2004. I really wish I would have gotten my hands on it then as it would have definitely made my Metal Coven Top Ten Albums Of The Year list. I hope to hear more from Metsatoll soon, as they proved with the release of "Hiiekoda" that they're a force to be reckoned with. If you're a fan of Folk Metal at all, spare no expense in tracking this C.D. down! With eighteen tracks and a running time of well over an hour, you have all the incentive in the world to own this album.

Author: Britton Dicks
Zine: Metal Coven Webzine

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