Artist: Brothers Of Metal
Album Title: Emblas Saga
Label: AFM Records
Date of Release: 10 January 2020
It’s becoming a theme but a positive one as once again I bring you a review of an album that I had literally no knowledge of and, from what I discovered after a quick bit of research, wasn’t overly keen to explore further.
Billed as a power metal band with folk elements and a love of Nordic mythology, I wasn’t sure that Swedish band Brothers of Metal (who hail from the same town as Sabaton) would be my thing, particularly because the folk metal scene as well as bands like Alestorm have largely passed me by. And then the band name and the way these guys look in their promo pictures; I was finding more and more reasons to avoid this album.
However, in the spirit of ‘new year, new possibilities’, and because my research revealed a swell of love and support for Brothers Of Metal from large pockets of the metal world, I clicked a link and was taken to the video for ‘One’. Four minutes later, I was downloading the promo and now, a few days later, I am bringing you my considered review.
So what was it that changed my mind so quickly? It was a combination of factors if I’m honest. The music was pretty much what I expected, but it was catchy, it was vibrant and it was well performed with a decent, muscular production. It was also clear that Brothers Of Metal didn’t take themselves overly seriously – hell, the video had me laughing out loud multiple times. This blend of striking music, sincerity and humour had me sold. I needed to find out more.
I’ll be honest and say that the first spin through didn’t grab me as much as I thought it would but as is ever the issue for hobby reviewers like myself, life was doing its best to distract me. I therefore decided to wait until I could get the headphones on and listen intently. It was then, one evening, that the magic started to happen. I had with me a glass (well, bottle) of wine but really, it should have been mead or similar because I was transported into an ancient and fantastical world of Norse Gods, warriors and mighty battles.
Brothers of Metal are more accurately described as ‘seven brothers and one sister of metal’, as their collective is eight strong. Yes eight! They are comprised of three guitarists, namely Dawid Grahn, Pähr Nilsson and Mikael Fehrm, bassist Emil Wärmedal, drummer Johan Johansson and three vocalists. ‘Battle cries’ are handled by Joakim Lindbäck Eriksson, Mats Nilsson speaks with the ‘tongue of the Gods’, and Ylva Eriksson is credited with being the ‘voice of the Valkyries’. On that last description, the band have got a point because Eriksson has a beautiful voice that helps to elevate the music from good, to excellent. It is her vocals that are one of the key factors as to why I enjoy this album as much as I do; Eriksson adds sincerity, clarity and beauty to the material, which would otherwise have been desperately lacking.
Having waffled on far too much already, it would be torture for you if I were to go into each track individually, especially as there are thirteen tracks on ‘Emblas Saga’. Instead what I will say is that, for the most part, the quality is very consistent with only a couple of songs here and there where I have even the vaguest compulsion to skip over them. I do think that, at nearly an hour, this record could have ditched one or two of the songs but this is such a minor gripe that most will simply dismiss it.
There are plenty of contenders for stand-out tracks but I’ll start with the opening salvo that hits once the suitably dramatic and cinematic, not to mention ubiquitous, narrated intro ceases. Despite the ludicrous name, ‘Powersnake’ (referring I assume to Jörmungandr, also known as the Midgard (World) Serpent) is brilliant. It has a swagger that’s irresistible, the multi-vocal approach is great and the central chorus is manna from power metal heaven.
High on my list of favourites, possibly THE favourite track on the record, is currently ‘Theft Of The Hammer’ thanks to an electric, galloping tempo, it’s surprising use of light and shade and arguably the best chorus on the album; it is addictive, memorable and an immediate sing along classic.
The title track is as entertaining as a lesson in Norse mythology as it is as a song in its own right, whilst ‘Chain Breaker’ skips along at an impressive pace with real verve and hunger.
I’m also a big fan of the battle-cry heavy hymn that is ‘Njord’, complete with lovely folk melodies, whereas ‘Hel’ offers some of the heaviest and most abrasive music on ‘Emblas Saga’ as well as being catchy as hell with a slow waltz-like chorus that has massively grown on me. Then there’s the aforementioned ‘One’ that is a cinematic, rousing anthem that’ll be an enormous hit in the live arena. Yes, it is cheesy as hell but when the music is this damn entertaining, who cares?
As I have discovered, Brothers Of Metal with ‘Emblas Saga’ is the perfect antidote to this depressing and oft-monochomatic existence that is real life. Even on an overcrowded train in the early hours of a cold January morning, I find myself smiling and bobbing my head along enthusiastically. If you too want to escape the stark reality of the real world, I suggest you do as I have done and immerse yourself in the rich, vibrant and occasionally ridiculous world of Brothers Of Metal. Trust me, you won’t want to leave!
The Score of Much Metal: 92%
Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: