It's odd to consider a band to be Viking Metal when they hail from the Ukraine, yet that is exactly what Miellnir professes themselves to be.
Regardless of their locale, "Incineration Astern" is an album festooned with Viking Metal moments, black metal blasphemies, death metal dirges and just an overall epic sound befitting of the Norsemen. Combining what I assume to be native instruments of the band's region with buzzsaw guitars, venomous vocals, ground-shaking drums and the occasional symphonic backing, "Incineration Astern" is a very entertaining listen.
With a clear grasp of the Viking lore, Miellnir forge a path that is less trodden than the typical folk/Viking metal outfits in the fact that they have a more varied sound throughout the album rather than sticking to the more traditional sounding instruments and leaving out more modern sounds like other bands in this genre do. Tracks like "Prey", "Legend of the Fallen" and "Stand Against" incorporate the aforementioned styles in a very deft and smoothly fluent sound that gives the album an ambience all its own. The differentiation in the vocal delivery also proves to be a smart move as well with vocalist Frozensoul seemlessly moving from black metal to death to clean vocals. "Legends of the Fallen" is a perfect example of this as all three of those vocal styles are used in this song and are done so with polish and ferocity. The production of the album is a bit muddy at times to give the album a slightly raw feel, yet it is quite clear for the majority, which makes me wonder if those muddy sections were done particularly for that point.
At the end of the day, Miellnir have a sound that is incredibly their own in a genre where almost all of the bands sound similar to one another. Hopefully, this separation will allow Miellnir to get the interest the band deserves and not be cast aside because of the stigma associated with Viking Metal and the rampant repetitiveness associated with the genre. I was thoroughly taken aback and impressed with Miellnir and look forward to digging deeper into this album and hopefully more albums to come.
About this Writer: Greg Watson // Greg Watson has been hooked on the loud and heavy sounds since the summer of 1994 when he first heard the opening notes of "Operation: Mindcrime" by Queensryche. Since then his tastes have expanded and grown like the ever evolving heavy metal tree of genres. He has been an active member of Maximum Metal off and on for 10 years. In his spare time, Greg enjoys deciding the fate of his loyal subjects in the realm of Skyrim and secretly playing air keyboard to "Separate Ways" by Journey when no one is watching. He currently resides in Roanoke, VA with his wife and his metal wannabe beagle.
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