Folk Metal is a fusion of Heavy Metal and Folk music, distinguished by several points, more or less always present;
Use of traditional instruments like flute, bagpipe, violin, hurdy-gurdy, accordion,…
A fast rhythm and distorted guitar
Lyrics talking about history, mythology, nature, fantasy or paganism.
Melodies are sometimes epic, sometimes melodious, and sometimes dancing; most of the time, it’s happy melodies.
There are many different styles of vocals, like black metal style, clean vocals, and traditional vocals… The chorus is often used in Folk Metal songs. Mostly, vocals are in the language of the band, not like other kinds of metal, where it’s often in English.
Visuals about Vikings, Celtics, pagans or mythology.
In short, it’s a festive kind of music which brings together a lot of metalheads all around the world, sometimes even in dedicated festivals.
The history of folk metal began in 1990 with the English band “Skyclad”, initially as a Thrash Metal band, with the album “The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth”. The musician Mike Evans added some violin elements to some tracks. Then, the band will add a violin musician to the composition and go deeper into folk metal music. Folk metal was born.
The Finnish band “Amorphis contributed to Folk Metal with their first album “The Karelian Isthmus”, in 1992 and their second album “Tales from the Thousands of Lakes”, in 1994. It brings a lot of interesting folk melodies from their country of origin.
“Cruachan” has brought a lot to Folk Metal; the Irish band is a founder of the genre. Merging heavy metal, black metal and traditional instruments.
The band “Eluveitie” from Switzerland has marked the 2000s with their history about Celtics and their mastery of traditional instruments. The band has contributed to the reconstitution of the Gaulish language to use it in their songs.
Every band has their own inspiration, like “Alestorm” (Scotland), which has Power Metal inspiration and speaks about pirate histories. Or “Turisas” (Finland), who talks about Vikings. “Arkona” (Russia) tells about Slavic mythology with Slavic instruments and feminine vocals. Or else “Heidevolk” (Netherlands) with their two singers and their vocals in Dutch.
Today, we count a lot of bands of Folk Metal all around the world, from the darkest Norwegian forest, including the Russian tundra, to end in the faraway Mongolian plains. There are some festivals dedicated to Folk Metal.