ALBUM REVIEW: Månegarm – Ynglingaättens Öde 

Flying the Viking flag since 1995, Swedish folk/black metallers Månegarm return with their tenth full-length studio album, Ynglingaättens Öde (Napalm Records). Loosely translated as “the fate of the Ynglinga kin” and based on an old Norse poem entitled Ynglingatal, the band keeps with their tradition of songs recalling paganism, ancient myths, warriors, and kings, their latest offering telling the story of the house of Ynglinga, an old Nordic dynasty.

Ten minute epic ‘Freyrs blod’ opens the album in majestic style, tearing the senses apart with a blistering mix of Jakob Hallegren‘s frantic drumming and Markus Andé‘s scything folk riffs. As always though, it’s versatile frontman Erik Grawsiö who steals the shows, shredding vocal cords with vicious black metal shrieks one moment, singing with powerful, clean tones the next. An ever evolving beast constantly reshaping itself, the song uses lilting female vocals and violins to take you on a lengthy but exhilarating journey.

Left with the unenviable task of following such a grand opener, ‘Ulvhjärtat’ is a more streamlined affair but still contains more than its share of gear changes as well as another instantly memorable chorus. The mid-paced swing of ‘Adils fall’ finds Grawsiö switching between throaty roars and fevered shouting, the chorus delivering another flowing melody without losing any of its devastating crunch before being joined by his daughter Lea Grawsiö Lindström on the masterful ‘En snara av guld’.

Featuring contributions from Jonne Järvelä (Korpiklaani), Robse Dahn (Equilibrium) and Pär Hulkoff (Raubtier), ‘Stridsgalten’ is purest Viking metal, warlike and aggressive but with a fiercely melodic edge and a Bathory style jew’s harp intro. ‘Auns söner’ counters rhythmic pounding and slashing vocals with strident clean vocals and atmospheric violins while the downbeat ‘Vitta véttr’ ebbs and flows beautifully, at one point setting a gentle interlude against vicious black metal to a wonderfully jarring effect. Having featured on the band’s 2015 self-titled album, singer Ellinor Videfors returns to duet with Grawsiö on the emotive, sweeping ballad, ‘Hågkomst av ett liv’ before the album concludes with ‘The Wolfheart’, an English version of ‘Ulvhjärtat’.

From smoky campfires to snow-capped mountains and Viking heroics, Ynglingaättens Öde is a triumphant return for the band as they follow up 2019’s Fornaldarsagor in serious style. Icy blasts of thunderous black metal combine with warm, rich melodies, traditional rhythms, contrasting vocal styles and even some fun Abbath style death grunts as each song takes you on a thrilling adventure into the heart of the ancient Swedish heartland.

Buy the album here:

9 / 10