I'm certainly not the biggest folk/viking/pagan metal fan around. I'm basically clueless when it comes to bands that sing about sailing the seas on longboats and pillaging villages - the only ones I know are Arkona and Ensiferum. And Korpiklaani, I guess, but I hate them. What's with all the retarded songs about booze? Get real. Are Amon Amarth pagan metal, too? Doesn't matter, I hate them too. I'd rather watch paint dry than listen to a whole album by those hacks.
There is one folk metal band, though, that managed to capture me, and it's probably an unlikely one. Falkenbach is my single favorite Norse-themed band ever, probably because it ignores some of the trademarks of the genre. Booming, epic production? Nope, Falkenbach has more of a bedroom-like production, with rather thin guitars and buried drums. A thousand different whistles, flutes, gongs, trumpets, horns and other assorted "traditional" instruments, all playing at once? No dice, sole permanent member Vratyas Vakyas keeps it simple, using only drums, guitars, bass and synths. Highly polished vocals with female choirs and shit? Not really. Vratyas Vakyas also handles vocal duties. The growling vocals are pretty bad, but his clean, majestic voice more than makes up for it. Lyrics lifted from old Norse legends and tales? Actually, yes. Hey, I didn't say Falkenbach looks over all of the genre's staples. Despite his obvious disregard for some of folk metal's unwritten rules, Vratyas Vakyas manages to create some beautiful songs that, although rather repetitive, are highly atmospheric and speak of times long gone, of sword, shield and blood.
And he's doing it more honestly and confidently than 90% of all those jackasses wearing animal pelts and wearing battle make-up. I hope they all drown.