Viking metal

Viking metal

Infobox Music genre
name=Viking metal
stylistic_origins=Black metal
Folk metal
Power metal
cultural_origins=Late 1980s, Scandinavia
instruments= Electric guitar - Bass guitar - Drums - Keyboards and/or Nordic folk instruments
other_topics= Bands - Norse mythology - Norse paganism

Viking metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music characterised by its galloping pace, keyboard-rich anthemic sound, bleakness and dramatic emphasis on Norse mythology, Norse paganism, and the Viking Age.


The genre of Viking metal was pioneered by the Swedish band Bathory, who took some of their inspiration and musical style from American heavy metal band Manowar. [] Their first album "Bathory" was released in 1984 and is "regarded by many as the first black metal record." [cite web |author=Ferrier, Rob |title="Bathory" review |url= |publisher=Allmusic |accessdate=2008-03-27] The band's fourth album "Blood Fire Death" was released in 1988 and signaled a transition from their black metal roots. Ed Rivadavia of Allmusic attributes it as "possibly the first true example" of Viking metal.. [cite web |author=Rivadavia, Ed |title="Blood Fire Death" review |publisher=Allmusic |url= |accessdate=2008-03-27] The album notably featured the band leader Quorthon singing in a clean style "as opposed to his previously preeminent death croak." It was followed in 1990 with the release of "Hammerheart", a landmark album that "formally introduced" to the metal world the "archetypical Viking metal album."cite web |author=Rivadavia, Ed |title="Hammerheart" review |publisher=Allmusic |url= |accessdate=2008-03-27] By then the band had completely departed from "the Satanic mould" and was "squarely in Viking mythology." [cite web |author=Sharpe-Young, Garry |title=Bathory |url=, |publisher=Rockdetector |accessdate=2008-03-27] The Viking metal music of Bathory was characterised by Wagnerian "lengthy epics, ostentatious arrangements, chorused vocals, and ambient keyboards." [cite web |author=Rivadavia, Ed |title="Requiem" review |publisher=Allmusic |url= |accessdate=2008-03-27]

The year 1991 saw the formation of the Norwegian group Enslaved. [cite web |author=Huey, Steve |title=Enslaved |publisher=Allmusic |url= |accessdate=2008-03-27] Their debut album "Vikingligr Veldi" arrived in 1994 with "many melodies being borrowed from ethnic Scandinavian folk music to lend additional authenticity to the vicious, fast-paced black metal." [cite web |author=Rivadavia, Ed |title="Vikingligr Veldi" review |url= |publisher=Allmusic |accessdate=2008-03-27] Inspired by Bathory,cite web |author=Rivadavia, Ed |title="Eld" review |url= |publisher=Allmusic |accessdate=2008-03-27] Enslaved set out to "create Viking metal devoted to retelling Norway's legends and traditions of old." Their second album "Frost", also from 1994, was "an important release for the extreme music subgenre of Viking metal." [cite web |author=Jeffries, Vincent |title="Frost" review |url= |publisher=Allmusic |accessdate=2008-03-27] With "Viking themes, razor sharp guitars, blastbeat drums, and an ear for orchestration resulting in complex structures, bountiful harmonies and time changes," Enslaved has since been acclaimed as "probably the foremost exponents" of the genre. [cite web |author=Sharpe-Young, Garry |title=Enslaved |url=, |publisher=Rockdetector |accessdate=2008-03-27]


Viking metal is "noisy, chaotic, and often augmented by sorrowful keyboard melodies." [cite web |title=Scandinavian Metal |url= |publisher=Allmusic |accessdate=2008-06-16] An epic sound is "a prerequisite for inclusion under the Viking metal banner" [cite web |author=Kalis, Quentin |title="Voimasta ja Kunniast" review |publisher=Chronicles of Chaos |url= |accessdate=2008-06-16] and bands in the genre typically adopt a "bombastic, keyboard laden" approach. [cite web |author=Azevedo, Pedro |title="Daudingekvider" review |publisher=Chronicles of Chaos |url= |accessdate=2008-06-16] Viking metal acts are known to be "very different in their music"cite web |author=Melzer, Alexander |title=Thyrfing - With primordial force! |url= |publisher=The Metal Observer |accessdate=2008-06-16] with influences from death metal, black metal and some power metal.cite web |title=Do You Speak Metal? |url= |publisher=The Metal Observer |accessdate=2008-06-16] Gerhard Storesund from Einherjer contends that "this diversity is very good for the style" and notes that the black metal genre is more monotonous in contrast. [cite web |author=Melzer, Alexander |title=Einherjer - The return of the blood-dripping corpses |url= |publisher=The Metal Observer |accessdate=2008-06-16] Both clean vocals and death growls can be found in Viking metal and the "speed varies from mid-pace to a fast pace." Like folk metal bands, Viking metal acts "generally utilize some acoustic and other unusual instruments in addition to the traditional metal instruments." [cite web |author=Bowar, Chad |title=Folk Metal Artists | |url= |accessdate=2008-06-16]

Some commentators view Viking metal as more of a lyrical or conceptual genre than a musical one. The themes explored by bands "usually come from Nordic and Viking mythology." Guitarist Patrik Lindgren of Thyrfing explains the appeal of such mythology by noting that "as a Scandinavian, it's the ultimate and most fascinating source of inspiration."cite web |author=Melzer, Alexander |title=Thyrfing - The songs of madness corpses |url= |publisher=The Metal Observer |accessdate=2008-06-16] He also identifies the subjects of sailing, dragons, "furious winds" and a "lust for exploration" as some of the standard motifs for the genre.

ee also

*List of Viking metal bands
*Viking rock


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