Heidevolk is a Dutch folk/pagan metal outfit, hailing from one of the most beautiful provinces in the Netherlands, namely Gelderland or Guelders in English. What really sets them apart is the fact almost of their songs are entirely sung in their native tongue and that their lyrics are heavily inspired by the local history and lore. Let’s see what their latest album, “Batavi”, has in store for us.
“Batavi” is a collection of tales about the rise and fall of the Batavian tribes and their famed, but ultimately futile, rebellion against their (former) Roman masters. Heidevolk is a fantastic band to watch in a live setting, but I always felt that the band lost their edge in a sterile studio environment. Luckily, that pesky problem has been properly dealt with on Batavi, thanks to the powerful mix by Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy). Another strong point is that this outfit refrains from using the typical chewed out folk metal clichés, like brainless drinking songs, pointless musical bombast and hollow lyrics.
They’re also not afraid to look past the musical boundaries of folk/pagan metal, given the doom metal influences on ‘Het Verbond Met Rome’ and ‘In Het Woud Gezworen’ and the slight black metal references on ‘Als De Dood Naar Ons Lacht’. Don’t worry, there is still plenty of folk/pagan metal to be found on “Batavi”, most notably on ‘Wapenbroeders’ and ‘Vrijgevochten’. A special mention should go to ‘Veleda’, very touching and mesmerizing musical intermezzo and frankly one of the best pieces on the album. The trademark dual vocals by Joris and Mark are in fine form, drummer Joost gives the song material an unexpected technical edge and Reamon’s tasteful guitar playing is the proverbial icing on the Heidevolk cake.
“Batavi” is a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable record. The songs are memorable and they manage to stay far away from the typical folk metal cheesiness. With only 39 minutes the album is a tad short, but that’s the only (minor) point of critique I have on an otherwise flawless effort. Recommended!