Folk metal is a fusion of heavy metal and folk music, distinguished by several points, more or less always present like ;
Use of traditionals 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, traditional vocals,… Chorus are 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 really 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” has contributed to folk metal with their first album “The Karelian Isthmus” in 1992 and their second album “Tales from the Thousands 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 traditionals instruments.
The band “Eluveitie” from Switzerland has marked the 2000s with their histories about celtics and their mastery of traditionals 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 2 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 far away Mongolian plains. There are some festivals dedicated to Folk Metal.