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Folk metal gets a bad rap. The genre’s bigger names like Korpiklaani or Trollfest would have you believe the field is populated by hairy, drunken vikings, but this is an oversimplification. Despite its party animal reputation, folk metal has a deeper, more emotive side.

Sharing members with fellow Ukrainian Russian expats Kauan, folk metal duo Helengard avoid the stereotypes. Their self-titled debut was released in 2010, though the band seem to have been quiet since then. Now, almost a decade past their self-titled debut, the release of their second full length, Firebird, is finally upon us.

Firebird, draws from a variety of folkish influences. The slow, somber gravitas found in some of their passages is reminiscent of Finnish folk metal legends Moonsorrow, while the folk instruments and jauntier melodies offer a romantic echo of the Steppes themselves. Opening track “Fall Rue” gets "right down to business," hitting the listener with a waterfall of keyboards and driving riffs. Subsequent tracks continue in a similar vein, guiding the listener on a journey through ancient lands and snowy mountain peaks. Harps and flutes play a prominent role all over this album, in particular on the track “Summer Feast”.

Firebird is punctuated with short spoken-word interludes in the band’s native Russian. While these will probably be more enjoyable to those who can speak the language, they don’t detract from the flow of the album for English-speakers. Even after a lengthy period of public inactivity, Helengard shift between cold and brooding, and upbeat and uplifting, hitting a sweet spot that does away with the viking frat house image that still haunts folk metal.

Lose yourself in the snowy, somber music of Helengard with an exclusive stream of Firebird below.

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Follow Helengard on Bandcamp and Facebook.

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