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Waging Ancient War: Heidevolk’s “Ontwaakt” (Music Video Premiere)

Vuur van Verzet

I’ve been a fan of Heidevolk for a decade at this point. During my adolescent folk-metal craze, I kept De Strijdlust Is Geboren and Walhalla Wacht in heavy rotation. However, Heidevolk is relatively unique: they are one of the few bands from that period (alongside, say, Metsatöll) that not only still hold up but are still releasing quality music. Heidevolk hits that sweet spot of folk metal, self-aware enough that it doesn’t come off as corny, but with a seriousness that keeps it from devolving into Finntroll-style renfair shenanigans. One could easily put Heidevolk into a subcategory of folk metal with Amon Amarth — both bands have kept a singular, distinct sound over a long career but have made enough modifications to prevent stagnation. With Heidevolk, this has been most exemplified by their gradual shift in vocalists, first with the incorporation of Lars Vogel’s harsh vocals on 2015’s Velua, and now with the addition of Jacco de Wijs in place of longtime frontman Mark Bockting.

Heidevolk is releasing their sixth full-length Vuur van Verzet (“Fire of Resistance”) on January 18th, and in preparation are premiering their video for the single “Ontwaakt” (“Awakening”). Already, one can tell that this is both an old and a new Heidevolk: gone are the fur-and-leather Iron Age garb of past iterations, replaced by a more generic all-black style in the vein of Amon Amarth. The music, too, is darker than much of Heidevolk’s output, reflecting the moodiness of Batavi more than the jauntiness of Walhalla Wacht or Uit Oude Grond. But don’t disabuse yourself of the notion that this isn’t “Heidevolk” anymore, as de Wijs’ basso rumble is as epic and stentorian as any of the band’s past vocalists, and he meshes with Vogel as effortlessly as Vogel meshed with Bockting. Every now and again a violin can be heard, but the riffs are solid, minor-key, and punishing. This is Heidevolk at its most cohesive, musically.

It’s also Heidevolk at its most visually compelling. The new, Spartan look of the band is accompanied by a well-crafted video that juxtaposes live footage with limited animation depicting, in silhouette, ancient warfare between the Batavii and the Romans. Again, this is where folk metal excels: crafting a sense of place and lineage without resorting to re-enactor silliness. Heidevolk are not pretending like they’re in the past. They’ve updated their aesthetic to modern sensibilities only to use this to spin yarns of forgotten struggles and ancestral glories. It’s a solid video that demonstrates maturity and a willingness to take themselves seriously, a quality that Heidevolk’s contemporaries would do well to take to heart.

Stream the video for “Ontwaakt” below, and check out Vuur van Verzet when it drops on January 18th via Napalm Records. Follow the band on Facebook here.

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