Viking metal, like many other sub genres and offshoots of metal, is new ground for me, with my one main introduction being Amon Amarth's With Oden on Our Side. Now along comes Runic, a band that doesn't even originate from Scandinavia!
In fact, they come from the south of Spain, a land that is decidedly non-Viking like. So what are these guys doing pretending to be from the cold country? Well, I can tell you one thing, they are delivering a pretty darn tasty slab of sword swinging, ale swilling Viking metal as if they did come from the north. Liar Flags is Runic's debut album, and I have to say, it my be a few notches below my Amon Amarth experience but it is still a good album that is impressive, particularly as a debut release.
Viking metal is an odd world to step into if you are not ready for it. This metal music that, more often than not, introduces elements that are just not found in metal music, and when you first experience them you may be confused as to what is going on. Could this be right? Are there actually bagpipes, flutes, medeival stringed instruments mixed into the metal? Why does the metal sound like electric folk from the days of warriror kings and blood soaked swords? The answer would have to be yes. Yes, you do here those elements usually reserved for the local Renaissance fair being used in one of the heaviest forms of music known to man. And you know what? It works. As weird as it sounds, these period instruments are right at home among the screeching guitars and the screaming voices.
Runic does not strike me, an admitted rookie in the land of Vikings, as a band that is trying to sound like Nordic metal. There is a sincerity to their music that translates as strong music that if you didn't know, you would think was from a band whose ancestors were Vikings. Their adopted sound is true, they integrate the traditional instruments seamlessly and at just the right points to not only accent the music, but to be a integral part of the success of the music.