Album Review – Varang Nord / Pārķiuņa Uomurs (2021)

One of the best metal hordes hailing from Latvia is ready to bring down the hammer with their fourth studio album, proudly dedicated to their vast and beautiful homeland.

3.5rating

varang-nord-pārķiuņa-uomurs-2021Founded in 2014 in the cold woods of Latvia, more specifically in the city of Daugavpils, located in south-eastern Latvia, the unstoppable horde known as Varang Nord combines harsh Death Metal riffs with epic accordion chants, creating a unique blend of northern Folk, Pagan and Viking Metal while praising a mighty battle, a bloody sacrifice to the Old Gods and a joyful northern feast with endless mugs of ale. Now in 2021, the band comprised of Maksims “Wolf” Popovs on vocals and guitar, Jelena Kalniša on vocals and accordion, Javgenijs Selivanovs also on the guitar, Danila Lopuha on bass and vocals, Vjačeslavs Janens on percussion and vocals, and Aigars Zeiza on drums returns to the battlefield with Pārķiuņa Uomurs, or “thunder’s hammer” in English, their fourth studio album, proudly dedicated to their homeland, the power and beauty of its nature and the depth of its cultural roots. Produced by the band and recorded at their personal studio, and mixed and mastered by Gints Lundbergs at Sound Division Studios, Pārķiuņa Uomurs is also the band’s first-ever album where all lyrics are written in the Latgalian language (an eastern dialect of Latvian), giving it an even more personal and organic feel.

A war is about to begin in the epic intro Pi Tuoļim Krostym, getting us ready for our bloodthirsty destiny to the sound of Stuojīs!, where the accordion by Jelena and the blast beats by Aigars make a superb paradox, offering Maksims everything he needs to roar like a true barbarian while Jelena brings a touch of finesse and melancholy with her clean vocals. Cīņis Gors, a battle anthem capturing the spirit of hard, long sea travels and conquests Northmen have been involved in, is a fun and inspiring Pagan and Viking Metal tune where the background elements by guest Yuri Borin walk hand in hand with the slashing guitars by Maksims and Javgenijs; and let’s keep banging our heads to Pārķiuņa Uomurs, another solid composition by this Latvian horde with Danila, Vjačeslavs and Aigars making the earth tremble with their imposing kitchen, whereas their warlike metal feast goes on in Dzeļža Ryuda, again presenting a headbanging, prancing rhythm led by Jelena’s wicked accordion, not to mention the awesome job done by Maksims with his evil growls.

It’s time then for a journey through the melancholic realms of old school Pagan Metal spearheaded by Jelena’s vocals in Svietņeica, accompanied by the rhythmic beats by Aigars and all somber background sounds, while Maksims roars deeply and more enraged in Uperiešona, a classic Viking Metal extravaganza the likes of Amon Amarth that will please all fans of the genre, with Danila crushing his bass guitar while Maksims and Javgenijs bring fire to the music with their riffage. And let’s prance around the fire pit together with those Latvian marauders in Syt Pa Seyi, a Pagan Metal feast perfect for their live performances with Aigars once again kicking some ass behind his drum set. Then mesmerizing accordion sounds, infernal and thunderous bass jabs and blast beats, and troll-like vocals set the tone in Troļļs, the epitome of Latvian Folk Metal where all band members are on absolute fire from start to finish, followed by Karaveiri, another good composition by those talented metallers (albeit not as dynamic nor creative as its predecessors) that flows into the atmospheric, acoustic outro Ceļš Da Sātai, bringing peace to our hearts after such intense battle.

varang-nord-2021Having said all that, I guess I don’t need to tell you that the time has come to grab your sword and shield, and join Varang Nord in the battlefield to the sound of their new opus, right? In order to do that, you can stream the album in full on Spotify, or prove you’re a true warrior from the North and purchase a copy of the album from Dead Pulse or from Apple Music. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook, on VKontakte and on Instagram for all things Varang Nord, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their epic music and videos. Varang Nord are not just another band recommended for fans of bands the likes of Ensiferum, Amon Amarth and Turisas, but a fantastic Latvian institution that truly deserves our appreciation for their contribution to heavy music. And let those talented Latvians bring down the hammer on us all!

Best moments of the album: Cīņis Gors, Uperiešona, Syt Pa Seyi and Trolls.

Worst moments of the album: Karaveiri.

Released in 2021 Sliptrick Records

Track listing  
1. Pi Tuoļim Krostym 2:07
2. Stuojīs! 4:28
3. Cīņis Gors 4:18
4. Pārķiuņa Uomurs 4:44
5. Dzeļža Ryuda 5:18
6. Svietņeica 5:39
7. Uperiešona 5:00
8. Syt Pa Seyi 4:06
9. Troļļs 4:18
10. Karaveiri 5:48
11. Ceļš Da Sātai 2:16

Band members
Maksims “Wolf” Popovs – vocals, guitar
Jelena Kalniša – vocals, accordion
Javgenijs Selivanovs – guitar
Danila Lopuha – bass, vocals
Vjačeslavs Janens – percussion, vocals
Aigars Zeiza – drums

Guest musicians
Alyona Fomina – medieval bagpipes, talharpa, other traditional instruments
Yuri Borin – orchestral arrangements