11 bands redefining folk metal across the world

Say the words “folk metal”, and what comes to your mind? One would guess the Vikings, the cold northern winds and groups like Scandinavian Pagans Heilung, who dress in animal skins and use instruments made from human bones. But every culture has its own folklore and folk music, and there are bands all over the world that incorporate their own cultures into metal – from Orphaned Land, which mixes Middle Eastern folk music with death metal. , to The Hu, which uses traditional Mongolian. instruments like the Tovshuur.

We’ve rounded up some of the most diverse folk metal bands from around the world – from South America to China, from Russia to Tunisia – who prove that almost any country can take their individual musical traditions and use them for going exceptionally strong.

Metal hammer line cut

Cemican (Mexico)

Cemican, a name which means “the duality of life and death” in the Mexican Nahuatl language, brings indigenous traditions to thrash metal. If you stick to their latest single Yóok ‘ol kaab Maya, you’ll hear an aerial flute drift above the melody, cradling you in a false sense of security before thundering drums are heard. Each song sounds like a variation on a war cry, calling on indigenous peoples to fight for their rights and their land.

Curare (Ecuador)

From the mountains of South America comes Curare, named after the type of plants used to make poison arrows. In their music, the Andean flute takes center stage, replacing what would typically be voice or guitar work in Western metal. The vocals range from melodic to throaty, and Curare often combines all the elements together in a beautiful chaotic climax, leaving the flute to float above the mix. They recently celebrated their 20th anniversary in the industry and have also launched their own line of beers.

Kaatayra (Brazil)

Kaatayra makes music you can absolutely lose yourself in: atmospheric black metal with acoustic instruments and Brazilian folk elements, all mixed together to create a sound that is as ethereal and delicate as it is heavy and oppressive. Acoustic guitars flow over the top, reminiscent of precipitation in the Amazon rainforest.

Zmey Gorynich (Russia)

You are not supposed to take this group seriously. It would be incredibly difficult anyway, with their bizarre mix of dance, grindcore, and Russian folk music. They often perform in traditional Russian peasant outfits and have the audience dancing arm in arm in circles. Comprised of well-known figures from the Russian metal scene (Rys from Ориана, Mityay from Chatalhüyük, Malafay from Smothered Bowels and more), the group respectfully treats all genres they use, and weaves them masterfully into each song, resulting in a shiny, brilliant, crazy sound tapestry.

Znous (Tunisia)

The name of the Znous group means “species,” a Tunisian slang word used to describe and insult people who deviate from the norm, and they are probably the most political group on this list. Their logo is a hand of Hamsa knocking you down, and their lyrics deal with political and social inequalities in post-revolutionary Tunisia. In their music, distinctively Arabic melodies float through the catchy drum beats and muffled guitars. They’re influenced by hardcore punk as much as they are metal, creating a really energetic sound. Their upcoming third album, whose release date has yet to be confirmed, will feature their own fans performing backing vocals alongside the group, making their DIY and community roots very clear.

Arka’n Asrafokor (Togo, Africa)

African metalworkers Arka’n Asrafokor occasionally sing in their native Ewe language. This language is in direct rebellion against colonialism, a call to arms for their public to free themselves from what the colonial governments have implemented in their nation. One of the few African metal groups to make extensive use of traditional African instruments, the very existence of Arka’n Asrafokor is an act of resistance against the colonial regime in which his country finds itself. The rejection of the official language of French in their music shows the group acting as decolonizers in direct opposition to Western influence.

Aeternam (Quebec)

The perfect blend of harmony and brutality, Aeternam’s voice truly sounds from another world. All of this is backed up by a thick sound of drums and thrashing, huffing guitars. But they also maintain a level of delicacy in the melodies, always leaving something a little lighter for your ears to catch. They’ve collaborated with Kobi Farhi from Orphaned Land, which if you’re looking for some good folk metal is a hell of a credential.

Your worshiper (Poland / Ireland)

Although your worshiper currently resides in Ireland, the members are all from Poland. Their sound draws heavily on Eastern European folk musical traditions and their lyrics are all in Polish. They exude an awe-inspiring and menacing atmosphere, expressed through hypnotic guitar vocals and riffs. It’s not music for the faint of heart, but it’s a dark journey that rewards as well as challenges.

Senyawa (Indonesia)

Senyawa takes an experimental approach, mixing Javanese mythology and instrumentation with flavors from different heavy musical genres. The first buzzing notes of their 2018 album SUJUD will sound low enough to vibrate your speakers – but it’s all done thanks to Rully Shabara’s powerfully bass vocal cords. When instruments are used, they are mostly homemade, created from tools used in rural Indonesia.

Specter Avenger (China)

Arguably the heaviest group on this list, it’s questionable that they should even be on it. But at the heart of all riffs and blastbeats, Vengeful Specter pays homage to Chinese mythology and history. They are part of the formidable black metal scene in China, and their lyrics are inspired by Chinese myths and legends: their self-titled debut album is a six-chapter story of oriental swordsmen about war, conspiracy, betrayal and revenge. Amidst their sonic heaviness, you’ll often find a Chinese pipa (lute instrument) or a dizi (a bamboo flute), placed so high in the mix that it’s impossible to ignore it.

Zuriaake (China)

If Vengeful Specter are the newcomers to the Chinese black metal scene, Zuriaake are the veterans. One of the most active bands in Chinese black metal history (the Chinese black metal scene is particularly illustrious), Zuriaake has long championed the metal scene in China, claiming that the long-haired metal look is reminiscent of ancient warriors. Chinese. There is a hollow sound in Zuriaake’s music, as if it is being played in the expanses of an ancient cave. Their music is ancestry in action, the sound of a sleeping story coming back to life.

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