ALBUM REVIEW : HEIDEVOLK — Vuur van Verzet
From the forests of the Veluwe, a rumble of boot-stomping melodies and thunderous harmonies echoes. Could it be that Heidevolk has risen again? Awaken from your winter slumber; we have a new album to feed the fire in our souls!
Unleashing a beautifully-crafted album with Vuur van Verzet — meaning “Fire of Resistance” — the Dutch heathen folk are starting 2018 extremely strong. This album is a tale of battle, pursuit and pride. Fond of their own history and lore, Heidevolk has chosen to create this album around the Germanic Tribes’ fight to push the Roman empire out of their lands and regain their rightful place.
This is by far the most melodic album they have ever created, and it is indeed a dramatic record, but not in a tacky or out-of-place way. Heidevolk has stories to tell, and the melancholy of languishing cellos and violins really add emotion to their sound — something especially important when much of your fan base does not speak the language you use — so adding a string ensemble was the sensible thing to do. Don’t be afraid of the word melodic though, Heidevolk is far from having strayed from their typical sound. There is plenty of fast riffing and blastbeats to go around, and songs like “Tiwaz” will remind you that Walhalla Wacht wasn’t released that long ago, on the grand scale of things.
Heidevolk has been through many lineup changes in their most recent years, including one that is often a fatal blow: vocalist changes. The band has been through it; they have been through it more than once! Heidevolk’s signature double clean vocal harmonies is what sets them apart from all other folk metal bands on the circuit, so to bring change certainly has to be carefully calculated. Once-newcomer Lars “NachtBraecker” Vogel has become the veteran vocalist of the band, and is now in turn joined by Jacco de Wijs after Mark Bockting’s departure , completing a full rotation of voices for the band. Wijs joined Heidevolk barely after the release of the band’s previous album Velua, making Vuur van Verzet his first record with the band. Same goes for guitarists Kevin Storm and Koen Romeijn who stepped in to become permanent fixtures both on stage and now on record. In spite of these changes, the band never lost their edge, or their soul. This is Heidevolk; constantly evolving, never defeated!
The song "Ygnwaz’ Zonen" has got to be my favourite on this album despite being almost entirely a capella, and I’ve definitely been listening to it on its own a lot. For Heidevolk, a drum and a 24-piece male choir is all you need to make one epic song, it turns out. You can really imagine a group of warriors pumping themselves up for one more mile. The Ingaevones headed home or to battle. My Dutch friends maybe you can help me out with the backstory here? In any case, this song reminded me a lot of other similar favourites of mine, like Metsatöll’s “Kuni Pole Kodus, Olen Kaugel Teel” and Týr’s “Regin Smiður”. Beautiful but strong; just how I like it.
The aforementioned male choir is also present on several songs, giving them extra layers of epicness and a drop of melodrama. In contrast, the band invited Nemtheanga from Primordial to do a bit of guest vocals on “The Alliance”, bringing some grit and high-pitched harshness to their game.
Is your command of Dutch mediocre to nonexistent? You’ll be happy to know that you will be able to understand one song, a very important song, without even using Google Translate! Heidevolk has written “A Wolf In My Heart” in English, and added the Dutch version “Een Wolf in mijn Hart” as a bonus on the album. The band has said that this song was written with the Saxon legend of Offa the king of the Angles in mind. It is a song of survival, about fighting for what is yours as would the wolf, as should we all.
Heidevolk — "Ontwaakt"
If, like me, you wish you could fluently speak the language and fully understand the stories behind the songs as Heidevolk intended to tell them, fear not because even though it might feel incomplete at times because of the language barrier, the album doesn’t fall flat. As always, Heidevolk keeps itself afloat with their catchy melodies and general epicness. After all, there are reasons why we learn their songs phonetically just so we can sing along at the top of our lungs. (Ik ben Vulgaaaaaris… you know how it goes)
By the way, you still have some time to learn some of these new songs before Heidevolk hits the European roads with Korpiklaani, Arkona and TrollfesT in what is probably the biggest folk metal tour in years! This is not to be missed if you are able to make it — I, as a Canadian am extremely envious! Definitely get your hands on Vuur van Verzet if you haven’t yet, and prepare for battle!
HEIDEVOLK — Vuur van Verzet
Release date: January 12, 2018