Fejd - Nagelfar (Napalm Records)

Break out the hurdy gurdy...

Swedish outfit Fejd is an odd one. While there is no shortage of metal bands that incorporate elements of folk into their music, it would be far more appropriate to say that Fejd is a folk band that incorporates elements of metal into their music. They sing entirely in Swedish, play no electric guitars and utilise a variety of traditional instruments such as the bouzouki, nyckelharpa and a bunch of others I can't pronounce.

The band's third longplayer Nagelfar, which translates roughly as Scrutinise, is an interesting foray into the misty realm of folkish possibility that is both hauntingly beautiful at times and oddly familiar at others, all the while never really sounding like anything you could call metal.

The album opens with a haunting female vocal chant before launching into first track Ulvsgrad. It's very easy to have a misconception of folk music as sea shanties that you get drunk to if your only frame of reference are bands like Korpiklaani [cough], but much of what's on offer here sounds very traditional in it's melody structure and conjures up images of trekking through the wilderness on some grand quest. Second track Sigurd Ring carries much of the same atmosphere.

However, on the title track, just when you think you have this album pretty much penned, an interesting curveball gets thrown our way. After Dis, a brief instrumental, the title track begins with a mournful horn sounding, before it lets loose what I can only describe as a black metal riff. Of course, the vocals remain clean and the folk melodies remain prevalent, but it is absolutely fascinating how they're able to recreate the dissonance of a black metal riff in the context of folk music, all without using any guitars.

Next track, Den Skimrande again shifts the mood and sounds like something you'd hear played in a Swedish tavern circa 1250. It has an infectious melody that'll have you singing along, or at least giving your best efforts to follow along with the lyrics. Fjarrskadaren evokes a more majestic vibe and ups the tempo somewhat. Much of what makes this band relevant to metal fans is captured by how the instruments are played. There's an urgency about the way this band hits the notes that simulates the aggression and heaviness of metal in a folk context. 

Since Fejd are so left of field, some metal fans may find themselves out of sorts at the lack of overt heaviness. I would recommend this album for fans of folk metal who are looking to expand into more authentic and traditional sounds. Altogether, Nagelfar is a fine album. Rustic stuff.