Release Date: April 1st, 2017
Genre: Power Metal
Ylva Eriksson – Voice of the Valkyries
Joakim Lindbäck Eriksson – Battle Cries
Dawid Grahn – Guitars
Pähr Nilsson – Guitars
Mikael Fehrm – Guitars
Emil Wärmedal – Bass
Mats Nilsson – Tongue of the Gods
Johan Johansson – Anvil and War Drums
1. Death of the God of Light
2. Son of Odin
3. Prophecy of Ragnarok
4. Defenders of Valhalla
5. Concerning Norns
8. Siblings of Metal
9. Gods of War
11. The Mead Song
13. Fire Blood and Steel
14. We Believe in Metal
Vikings and metal tend to go together very well, and the idea of combining the two has obviously been made popular by the likes of Swedish melodic death metal band Amon Amarth and German power metal band Rebellion, and now a new challenger has arrived to prove themselves worthy of fighting for Odin. That band is Brothers of Metal, from Sweden, and they have unleashed their debut Prophecy of Ragnarok, which is not only an incredibly addictive power metal album, with varying influences from other genres and a ton of different exciting elements, but it also happens to be perhaps the very best Viking themed metal album I’ve ever heard, as the band takes familiar ideas and mashes them together perfectly, while also managing to create their own distinct sound that really has to be heard.
On the surface, comparisons to Sabaton are pretty obvious, as the band puts the same emphasis on anthem like choruses, huge symphonic elements, including the use of epic backing vocals at times, and their songwriting is insanely catchy and often does feel similar to the aforementioned band. At the same time, while the main concept is themed around Vikings, lyrical comparisons can also be drawn to Manowar, particularly when it comes to the kind of true metal attitude the band often displays, which can at times come across as a bit cheesy, but the band displays so much energy that one can’t help but smile and have a great time through it all. One thing that separates Brothers of Metal from either band, though, is the use of folk elements, which are quite prominent and are used very effectively. At times this comes through the simple use of epic folk melodies in the guitar work, but there are also many sections where folk instruments come in and take over for a while, and these sections are pretty epic. On a compositional level, this is an outstanding album, as there’s a ton of variety in the songwriting, ranging from epic fast paced tracks, to more mid paced crushers, slow and melodic tracks, ballads, and songs which aren’t overly fast, but move at a pretty decent pace and include folk elements. One last thing that has to be mentioned is just how confident this band seems already, as everything from the guitar riffs, to the vocal lines to the way symphonic and folk elements are used even to the simple things like how the drum beats sound, all exude confidence, and it really feels like that band know exactly what they want to do with every song, and they’ve done it perfectly, which is truly impressive for a band on their first album.
For everything this album does right, the one area where I’m most impressed has to be the vocals. There are three vocalists in the band, but they’re used much differently than in a band like Amaranthe. Instead of three leads, we have Mats Nilsson providing some epic backing vocals at points, as well as doing various vocal effects throughout, which is pretty epic, while the other two vocalists carry the bulk of the load. First up, Joakim Lindbäck Eriksson has a gruff and very deep voice that certainly reminds me of Sabaton’s Joakim Brodén, though he often sounds a lot wilder and more intense, almost coming close to a growl at times, and his delivery is generally quite fiery and very energetic. His co-lead is Ylva Eriksson, who has a very powerful voice and often stays in an alto range throughout the album, though she can go higher at times as well, as she provides some epic soaring vocals throughout and does a great job of bringing out the melodies in the songs. Vocal duties are split very evenly between the two, with many sequences letting one take the lead for a bit, then letting the other singer take over, and there are also many parts, especially during the choruses, where the two sing in harmony and these are generally the best parts on the album, as while they’re both excellent on their own, they sound incredible when paired together. In fact, while many bands in recent years have utilized dual lead vocals, I think this pairing may be my favorite of all, they sound that impressive together.
The album gets off to an excellent start with the exciting opener “Death of the God of Light”, a track which opens up with some epic folk melodies and moves along at a pretty quick pace, while having some great riffs and an excellent chorus, which showcases the two lead singers very nicely. It’s a very fun, extremely catchy song that serves as a great introduction the band’s sound. Next is the slower, heavier “Son of Odin”, which opens with a brief voiceover, before the guitars kick in and it turns into a slow moving, but still very epic track with another excellent chorus and has a cool vocal section in the middle where the folk elements take over, and we get some epic backing vocals. One thing I really like about this track is that the drums are made to sound like a blacksmith’s hammer, which is a pretty cool effect.
Songwriting is clearly a big strength of this band, as every song here is outstanding, and offers a ton of variety for listeners. Fan looking for some speedy power metal have a ton to look forward to, starting with the epic title track. This track is one of the fastest paced songs on the album, and has excellent verses, with great riffs and great alternating vocals between the two leads, and of course, the chorus is super catchy as always and includes some cool gang vocals. The section near the end is also epic and uses narration quite effectively. In fact, while the album does have some occasional narration, especially on the brief interlude track “Concerning Norns”, it blends in nicely and is used seldom enough that it never because distracting, but instead adds extra flavor. Moving on, “Siblings of Metal” is another super fun speedy track which has an epic choral section at the beginning, before speeding up and becomes one of the most epic tracks on the album, with one of the most addicting choruses. Right after that is “Gods of War”, another speedy track which slows down for its epic symphonic infused chorus, but also stays epic throughout. Perhaps my favorite of the faster songs is “Sleipnir”, a track which stays heavy throughout its verses, with some very powerful near growls from Joakim, and then it speeds up as Ylva takes over and provides some epic soaring vocals for the chorus.
On the slower side, “Yggdrasil” is an amazing ballad, which has some subtle folk elements throughout, and it’s a very enjoyable track overall, and has a nice vocal section towards the end, but it’s the chorus that really stands out, as the two leads harmonize together so wonderfully and it is just an absolute treat to hear. There’s also a really nice guitar solo in the middle, which leads into the epic vocal section later on. As amazing as the rest of the album is, this may actually be my favorite, though it’s tough to tell as I could make that claim for basically any song on the album. Similarly, “Freya” is a fairly slow and laid back track, which has enough heavy sections that I wouldn’t call it a full on ballad, though it’s certainly on the softer side and Ylva provides some very beautiful vocals throughout the verses, while Joakim comes in during the chorus as usual, and it’s another folk influenced track, with some symphonic elements as well. Lastly, closing track “We Believe in Metal” is another fairly soft track, which has yet another epic and super addictive chorus, as well as an excellent guitar solo. It’s a very upbeat track and certainly ends the album in a great way.
In the realm of not overly fast but also not particularly slow, we have songs like “Tyr”, “The Mead Song”and “Fire, Blood and Steel”, which move along at a decent pace and are all pretty hard hitting tracks, while still providing the same epic vocal harmonies and great choruses as usual, with “The Mead Song” in particular being a very silly track with strong folk elements throughout, and it has an especially epic section in the middle where the folk elements really take over. One more heavily folk influenced track is “Defenders of Valhalla”, which opens up with a nice folk section and moves along at a pretty nice pace, while once again providing an insanely epic sing along chorus, complete with excellent harmonies from the two leads and some super epic backing vocals. This track is perhaps the catchiest and most fun track on the entire album.
For a debut, Prophecy of Ragnarok is an absolutely stunning achievement, as it provides an extremely entertaining mix of power, folk symphonic and heavy metal with a wide variety of insanely catchy songs, as well as introducing an excellent vocal duo that instantly impresses, all while delivering an epic Viking themed concept. Fans of Sabaton, in particular, should find a lot to enjoy here, but I’d highly recommend this album for any fan of power metal or just epic Viking themed metal in general, as there’s enough variety here that it should please a wide group of metal fans. Brothers of Metal have certainly stormed onto the scene with an impressive debut, and I really hope they catch on and have the success they deserve because this is definitely one of the most fun and instantly satisfying metal albums released in 2017 so far.
Reviewer: Travis Green