There’s folk metal, and there’s folk metal. The last decade has seen a meteoric rise in bands, mostly from Scandinavia, whose music falls into this category. When it comes to ‘authentic’ folk metal I think the criteria we can all generally agree on are: the use of traditional folk instruments (violin, Celtic pipes, etc), plus any that are native to the band’s home country, such as the Finnish kantele; lyrical themes that are inspired by the band’s native folk culture; some epic heavy metal; a healthy dose of paganism, and, increasingly often, the use of facepaint, chainmail, and various weapons as part of the band’s aesthetic.
So what’s the other kind? Well, it’s like the diet version – bog-standard heavy metal with maybe a violin and a vague sense that you and a friend could do a little jig in a circle to their music (no one’s saying you have to. But you could if you really wanted. Hey, I don’t make the rules).
Harpyie seem to fall into this second category. If German isn’t your native tongue, now might be the time to whip out your old schoolbooks, otherwise you might have trouble singing along – as is customary with folk metal – to their debut album ‘Blindflug’. Although the chances are if you’re a fan of folk metal that won’t matter; as long as you can thrust your pint in the air and wave a sword (plastic, of course) around to their music, why should language be a barrier to enjoyment? Harpyie are ultimately a bit of fun. You won’t find stunning musical technicality on the songs of ‘Blindflug’, nor any profound lyrical content – that is, if Google Translate is not mistaken – but I picture them as a band who would go down well at summer festivals. You would have to be pretty drunk though.
‘Blindflug’ starts off with an instrumental intro track, ‘Gen Siebenbyrgen’. Quelle surprise. Dear young bands: please, please, please stop doing this. Like, your debut album is not so amazing that it needs its own entrance music, guys. Probably. After a minute of this tedium, some really rather good riffage kicks in on second track ‘Hundertdreyssig’, and things look promising. Sadly, however, the album fails to change at all in pace, and plods along somewhat uninspiringly until track 8, an acoustic ditty ‘Legenden’. Album closer ‘Irrlichter’ features a pretty female vocal and some nice harmonies, which get a bit lost in the mix.
Unfortuantely there’s really not much more to say about it. When compared to the debut albums of some of the other folk metal bands out there, such as Turisas, Ensiferum and Amorphis, it’s ultimately a weak offering, but if you’re really into your folk metal you’ll probably like it anyway. With infinitely superior bands like those mentioned above, though, you’d be forgiven for overlooking Harpyie.