Enid – Munsalvaesche (28 November, 2011 – Code666 Records)
Last weekend, my wife and I traveled to enemy territory* to catch the Korpiklaani+Arkona show. Because my mother’s farm is about three hours closer to Cleveland than the Valley of Steel is, I had arranged for us to spend Thanksgiving weekend at her place. Well, I think mom saw through my thinly veiled ruse, because in exchange for a couple days’ worth of free food and shelter within easy driving distance from Peabody’s, she decided that I needed to help put up her Christmas tree and hang the lights on it (she has an enormous nine-foot artificial tree, and lately it has become more difficult for her to get up and down a ladder).
Anyway, during all this decorating nonsense, we were treated to a variety of Christmas-themed music from mom’s extensive collection. This included a number of albums by Mannheim Steamroller, a multi-platinum selling, new-agey, electro-orchestral project of which she’s always been fond. Anyway, during the process of assembling the tree, my wife remarked to me that some of the music we’d heard the night before (i.e. the concert) was not too far removed from what was being played at the house that morning. I can see where she was coming from here — for example, the incorporation of traditional folk melodies and styles, and instruments such as the flutes and bagpipes used extensively by Arkona, into a more modern format, might superficially resemble the methods employed by Mannheim Steamroller. However, to me the pagan/folk metal movement seems to take the folk/traditional instruments, melodies, song structures and attitude, and directly blends these with metal instrumentation (and often, metal vocals). On the other hand, the traditional folk Christmas carols that are reinterpreted on the albums we heard, seem to be rearranged in more of a classical orchestration and then reproduced with modern, synthesized instruments. I would be more inclined to compare this with something like Wendy (née Walter) Carlos‘ Switched-On Bach series of albums, although the correllation would be more apt if it were electronic versions of works by classical composers who, unlike Bach, often incorporated traditional folk tunes (either of their own cultural heritage, such as Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dances,” or those picked up elsewhere, such as Tchaikovsky’s “Cappriccio Italien”).
Anyway, all of this rambling is leading up to my review of the latest album, Munsalvaesche, by German epic/fantasy/symphonic metal artist Enid, which was just made available last week (28 November) through Code666 Records/Aural Music. Continue reading and you shall see (and hear!) why this album should appeal to fans of the folk-metal approach as well as the modernized folk-music-via-classical-arrangement approach.