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Swedish Viking metal band Månegarm really comes into its own with their third album 'Dödsfärd,' retaining the fierce black metal framework of their earlier works, but adding a highly successful melodic folk angle that sees every song transformed from enjoyable black metal into an instantly memorable hit.
Harsher and more energetic than the atmospheric Viking metal of Bathory and Moonsorrow, Månegarm's style is distinctive and will likely satisfy fans of either extreme. The cover art is entirely appropriate to these tales of plunder and conquest, but the album still finds time for softer melodic moments, albeit to a lesser extent than their later works. Compared to their subsequent classic 'Vredens Tid,' 'Dödsfärd' is punchier and faster, though the shorter playing times and total length of just over half an hour leave things feeling a little unsatisfying when it's all over too soon.
Despite the issue with length, 'Dödsfärd' still deserves to be recognised as a classic of the loosely-defined Viking metal genre, and while it's less accomplished than their later works, this adds an appealing punk aesthetic, and the increased folk elements are thankfully incorporated in a tasteful, enhancing manner rather than drawing too much attention to themselves, as would be the case for bands such as Finntroll.