Do you like heavy metal? Do you like folk metal? Do you enjoy Estonian history? Do you find yourself playing The Elder Scrolls or similar RPG too much? If you answered yes to any of the above, then I recommend you check out the newest release from Estonian folk metal band, Metsatöll, entitled Karjajuht (Spinefarm)! Coming in just shy of 45 minutes, Karjajuht will impress any sort of metalhead. Metsatöll keeps the listeners engaged by keeping every track fresh but not so different that the listener loses focus. Having just seen them for the first time earlier this year, it was a no-brainer for me to pick up this album, listen to it just short of 3,000 times, and review it. For those new to this gem, they play with your typical metal instruments, but also incorporate other traditional instruments such as bagpipes and flutes among others. Karjajuht is, to my knowledge, the 6th studio release from the band, as they have been playing together since 1999 and are true work horses! This newest release proved to be a difficult task of deciding which songs were my favorite and which ones may have been a slave to the skip button.
The first two tracks, ‘Kulmking’ and ‘Loome Mesti’, showcase the traditional instruments from Lauri aka Valruven as I mentioned earlier as well as thrash elements from the rest of the group (Markus on guitar and lead vocals, Raivo on bass and backing vocals, and Marko on drums and backing vocals). The next three tracks I like to classify as “sing-a-longs” because they all tend to find their way back into my head daily and I catch myself humming them throughout my work day. ‘See On See Maa’ is the first of these tracks and actually features Valruven on vocals. This track is slower compared to the last few tracks with a very catchy chorus. ‘See On See Maa’ gives off a feeling as if you are part of the Estonian Armies and are at rest after a day of fighting, singing at a campfire with your comrades. ‘Terasest Taotud Tee’ is another catchy track that returns to the “thrashy” upbeat style previously seen on the album. The chorus in this song comes complete with gang vocals, always a plus for crowd interaction at live shows! (or even just singing along in your car on the way home from the day job) Another song that stuck out to me was ‘Torrede Kohtudes’ with vocals once again being fronted by Valruven mostly during the verses and Markus returning during the chorus. Valruven also busts out a mandolin of sorts for this track with a memorable riff that occurs during the intro, throughout the song, and in the outro as well. This song is certainly on the list of “circle pit” songs should it make the next tour’s setlist. For those who are big on the slow, heavy riffs, the next track is right up your alley, entitled ‘Metslase Veri’. If you were not head banging at any point in Karjajuht yet, you will be by this track for sure! Finally, if you were looking for that epic song that could close out a future set, look no further to the last track, ‘Talisman’. Slow, heavy, melodic, dragons…. ok there may not be any dragons. but this last track will make you feel like you are marching into battle against one for sure. Once the fade out begins in the last 20 or so seconds, you will realize two things: 1) You have been head banging for quite some time that it hurts and, 2) you are fairly upset that this album is coming to an end.
Overall I was very pleased by this newest release from Metsatöll. Having said that, I still don’t feel the same magic as I did when seeing them live but that could just be the listening atmosphere. Now becoming a fan of this band, I may need to start looking into Rosetta Stone for Estonian so I can start learning the song lyrics outside of the choruses! Karjajuht is quite a good album for those to start listening to this band (as it was technically my first time listening to them via studio release) and will get the new listeners to search for more. As good as Karjajuht was, I still feel like they still have not unveiled their true masterpiece to the world quite yet.
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