Album Review: Sagas – Vanir

Vanir is a six-piece Melodic Death Metal band from Denmark. “Sagas,” their sixth full length in a career that began just over a decade ago, was released earlier this month on Mighty Music, which has been the band’s home since album number one. 

Vanir began as a Viking-themed Folk Metal act with 2011’s“Særimners kød,” and started to pepper in heavier elements a year later with their second LP, “Onwards Into Battle,” and even further still with 2014’s “The Glorious Dead.” Taken together, these three records show an extremely diverse group of musicians preparing for and embarking upon a war-torn journey through mythological lands. 

With their fifth album, 2019’s “Allfather,” Vanir sounded like a completely different band, stripping down many of the traditional sounds and taking on Amon Amarth level Viking-themed Melo-death. A transformation that really must be heard to be believed. While their earlier material is enjoyable, it is this newer sound that makes Vanir stand out in the crowd. And with “Sagas,” Vanir completely leaves this crowd in the dust. 

This crowd includes bands like Finntroll, Eluveitie, and Svartsot, which have all gone through their own impressive transformations over time. And, to be fair, my personal opinion cannot erase the fact that some may find Vanir’s now near total embrace of the Melo-death aesthetic off putting. It’s still very hard to argue with “Sagas” as a whole, though. Especially for anyone new to the band, 

The arena-ready choruses of songs like “Black Clad,” and “Dødsfærd,” are every bit as infectious as “Raise Your Horns” by Amon Amarth, or “We Will Rise” by Arch Enemy. And songs like “The Bounty of Flesh and Bone” and “Eindridi” are hard to beat in terms of pure drive and aggression, even with the latter’s use of keyboards, which typically drags down an aggressive sound. 

The whole album is paced brilliantly, with “Battle of Middle Earth” signaling the apex of an epic battle, rallying the troops and gathering berzerkers from all corners of the land with “Gods of War,” and culminating the entire cinematic experience with “Visdomsmjøden.” 

By album’s end, there is an inescapable feeling of relief, as the muscles in your body begin to unwind, allowing time for the listener to realize they’ve experienced something quite extraordinary. In this case, a collection of songs that expertly navigate themes and emotions that explore countless emotions, both human and divine. Highly recommended, indeed.

Rating: 4/5

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