Following up from their 2021 album Creatures of The Dark Realm, Bloodbound have returned with Tales from the North which takes us straight to the harsh conditions that their Viking ancestors lived in. One immediately ventures into an angry sea waiting to swallow them up in an epic tsunami of myths and legends right until the famous 1066 battle of Hastings. The galloping beats, grandiose choruses, soaring vocals and epic riffs echo the battle cries when facing their enemies and the pride of conquering land.
Tales From the North is their milestone 10th studio album which reinvigorates their trademark power metal sound with folk elements that they’ve been honing for over ten years and no other band executes that better than Bloodbound. The transitions between the calmer folk parts and full-on soaring choruses of screaming melodies are smooth as silk. Mixing subgenres is already a difficult thing to do as it can often sound disjointed but in this case, it’s like they were made for each other and Bloodbound make it look effortless. Myths and legends are no strangers to the Swedish and it seems to be in their blood that when they tell them in music, power and folk metal in particular, the end product is magical as if everything that’s touched turns to gold.
The opening track ‘Tales from The North’ is a great start for an album wanting to immerse the listener into a vortex of sudden changes in emotions. From an intro with gentle flutes, acoustic guitars and soft vocals like a calm before the storm setting, comes a hurricane of music which reveals what’s to come. The dual harmonies of the Olsson brothers accompanied by the thundering double kick of Daniel Hansfeldt set the scene for a whirlwind of Viking adventures under the guidance of their gods.
‘Drink With The Gods’ sees Bloodbound slow the pace down where they celebrate with a toast to the gods about their achievements of conquering new lands as they get ready for the next battle. The beat and battle cries of the vocals very much represent the feeling of rowing in a tranquil scenario where courage brings its rewards in the best possible way. While they enjoy mixing folk and power metal together, they go 100% power metal far more than folk so that’s a special treat. ‘1066’ brings Tales from The North to a dramatic finale where the Vikings are defeated in the battle of Hastings, signalling a bloody end to a brutal era. The verses and choruses are in different tempos which is very creative and gives an accurate reflection of the back-and-forth pace of a war where both sides gain territory only to be pushed back.
There are times where the guitar solos could’ve been more inventive and impactful. While ‘Between the Enemy Lines’ has contagious shredding of a perfect length to fulfil the song’s demands, ‘Odin’s Prayer’ and ‘Land of Heroes’ sound cautious and a bit repetitive for not exploring different techniques and keys. It feels like some life was sucked out of the song and left a certain emptiness to be filled in.
Tales from the North builds on Bloodbound’s illustrious discography and I was immersed in a wall of euphoria throughout the album in which their trademark power/folk metal sound shines in style. The fast-paced soaring melodies, headbanging riffs, aggressive double kicks and epic vocals all make the perfect ingredients for a rewarding listen. The switch to a folk metal only track definitely caught my attention as it’s always good to have some breathing space with an album that has relentless energy. Despite the only criticism about the guitar solos sounding a bit cautious and repetitive at times, it will certainly be a thrilling experience for Bloodbound fans and beyond.
Tales from the North will be released on July 7th via AFM Records. More information is available at https://ramzine.co.uk/news/bloodbound-2/