Friday, December 9, 2011

The 6 Reasons You Hate Folk Metal And Why They Are Completely Untrue.

1. "I don't like's just screaming and noise." 

This is really just not true, but leaving aside the whole noise vs. music debate for a moment, the key word here in the topic under discussion, to wit, FOLK METAL, is the word FOLK.  While folk metal is indeed metal, it's also, well...folk.  And since most of the bands in question do try to incorporate traditional music into their mix, it's sometimes more folk than metal. Exempli gratia:

Troll Gnet El - "Troll bends fir"

2. "I don't like folk, it's hippie crap for Renaissance Faires."

Usually a complaint from the trve kvlt metalheads, because folk metal (being based in folk music) is often by nature fun happy party music.  That is not always the case; some folk music is dark and depressing and not fun happy party music at all.  Likewise with folk metal, especially since the so called (by me) "Golden Age" of folk metal happened around the same time as the upsurge of True Norwegian Black Metal (a.k.a. TNBM) and Viking metal.  There's a definite crossover between these three musical styles, and some of the biggest and/or most well known folk metal acts have deep, deep roots in black metal.  Exempli gratia:

Moonsorrow - "Hvergelmir"

Note in the previous selection that this pretty much epitomizes what I like to call the "whirlwind of angry bees in a cave" sound that says "I am listening to black fucking metal."

3. "Folk metal is just a bunch of dudes wearing furs and waving swords around."

First of all, no.  You're thinking of Manowar.

Also known as Manocandy.

Second, does this look like a dude in furs?
Arkona - "Liki Bessmertnykh Bogov"

4. "I don't like folk music OR metal."

Okay, fine.  But let me ask you this: do you like culture? History? Dancing? Drinking? Partying? Pirates? If you answered "no" to one of these, we'll go with the rest; if you answered "no" to all of them, I really can't help you and I'm almost 100% sure you're not actually a human being.

Fängörn - "Trolls Strong Beer"

5. "Folk metal is just cheesy."

You know what? I'm not going to say this is 100% wrong.  There is or can be a certain cheese factor to folk metal.  But as a reason to HATE folk metal, it doesn't hold.  Here's a test: tell me which of the following is the cheesiest.

My point being that folk metal cheese is no worse than the cheese of other bands that have gone on to become inexplicably more popular than their folk metal counterparts despite either not being folk metal (pic 1: black metal gods Immortal) or playing generally shitty music (pic 2: Slipknot), or just generally being shitty in all aspects musical or otherwise (pic 3: Insane Clown Posse).  By comparison the stalwart heroes in the last picture (Turisas) are models of class and restraint.

Though in the interests of 'journalistic' fairness, this is what Turisas usually look like:
Most assuredly not Manowar.

Regardless.  Folk metal = cheese? Maybe.  Cheese = hate? No.  Unless you're a juggalo, of course.

6. "Folk metal is a trend/fad/gimmick whose time has passed."

Now if you're like me and you believe that folk metal has its roots in plain old regular metal's fascination with swords, wizards, dragons and crap, we can trace that fucker all the way back to Black Sabbath (at least).  If you hold with the generally accepted theory (and by "generally accepted theory" I mean "what it says on Wikipedia") that 'true modern' folk metal got its start with the British band Skyclad (formed in 1990), that's still a pedigree stretching back more than 20 years (though the Wikipedia page on folk metal actually attributes the start to Golgotha's 1984 EP "Dangerous Games", which would put it at 27 years).  I dunno about you, but to me a fad or trend is something that lasts a couple of years at most.  And of course I could argue that folk music (a pretty important part of FOLK METAL) goes back to, well, music.  All of it.

I'm not saying Black Sabbath is folk metal, of course (though note the non-metal use of a traditional folk instrument, the harmonica).  I'm just saying that folk metal didn't rise in 2005 and die in 2007 as a lot of people seem to think.  It's got, oh, what's the word....oh yeah.  History.

So there you go: all this time you actually loved folk metal and didn't know it.  You're welcome.


David Durnall said...

OK just read about this over at NCS and decided to drop in.

Here is my reason. Well I dont think it sucks its just not for me. Not from any lack of trying, I own every single Ensiferum CD and I even break them out every now and then.

I even love a lot of traditional Finnish music but do me it just doesnt seem to blend well (Like Mayo and Chocolate).

Trollfiend said...

What, you've never heard of chocolate mayo cake?

True, folk metal isn't for everyone. And while you say it's not for have every single Ensiferum album. So I might argue that you like SOMETHING about it, even if it's just one or two songs by one band.

David Durnall said...

Yea dont get me wrong, some days I just want to gather up a Dwarf, Elf, and a few Hobbits and take on the legions of Chaos.

But I cant do it all the time.

However Ensiferums From Afar is just amazing, and all the talk about this has now just made me put it on.

Trollfiend said...

Tolkien metal FTW!

Thanks for your comments, by the way.

Ørsaeth said...

Why does chocolate-mayo cake exist? That seems utterly ridiculous!

As for the article, I agree on all counts. I have to defend folk metal a fair amount from some people who I formerly called allies-in-arms. Some people just have no appreciation for rousing songs about drinking and quests and goblins and drinking.

Trollfiend said...

Chocolate mayo cake is a Southern thing. Southerners are weird.

Don't forget drinking. Some songs are also about drinking.

Wedding_Skulls said...

I don't know about this Chocolate Mayo cake, but I make chocolate beetroot brownies and they're fucking AMAZING.

Folk metal is a weird genre - in that, because any metal music that's got some kind of traditional instrument (and even some that doesn't) technically falls under the "folk metal" label, you get all sorts in there - thrash, death, black, melodeath, hardcore ... so I like to think there's something for everyone.

PS. I wish you could comment with you name/URL. I don't have any of those other things.

Phro said...

Folk metal helped me segue into extreme metal....but I'm not sure I'd go back. Occasionally I like song random folkiness, so I'll keep coming.

Can you introduce some folk metal using Asian instruments. No surprise, I really like that kind of thing.

SurgicalBrute said...

"Can you introduce some folk metal using Asian instruments. No surprise, I really like that kind of thing."

Well I sure can...Tengger Cavalry

Trollfiend said...

I just did a quick search for Tengger Cavalry...some really cool shit here.

I think I might have to do a post on them in the near future. Throat singing is cool.

amelia said...

The Wizard is good but what about A Bit of Finger?
Listen to the beginning of Sabbath's A Bit of Finger and tell me you think Quorthon didn't love that song. That little twang mouth thing and acoustic guitar, as well as the darkly dramatic vocal style are very much facets in the beginnings of folk metal. Listening to it immediately calls to mind the era of Bathory that folk metal couldn't have existed without.

Trollfiend said...

Amelia - I chose The Wizard as an illustration of how metal has long been obsessed with folkish things rather than to delineate the specific musical sound. I certainly won't argue that Sabbath had a big influence on Bathory in general and Quorthon in particular. Personally I think of Bathory as more of a precursor to Viking metal as opposed to folk, since I define folk metal as metal that incorporates tradition folk rhythms, melodies and/or instruments, which Bathory really doesn't do in any kind of concerted way.

But just for fun, here's a Quorthon-masterminded cover of a classic Sabbath track.

War Pigs

Anonymous said...

ive listened to folk music, and if other people like it thats all good, but to my ears these two genres just were never meant to be combined in a single style of music. id compare it to something but i cant think of anything which sounds as plain wrong as folk metal

Trollfiend said...

Now is your objection based purely on the fact of having heard both folk and metal and thinking they should not be combined, or have you actually listened to folk metal and just don't like it? If it's the former I'd say you can't judge until you've actually listened to it. If it's the latter, well...see the above article.

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