Folk Metal and Viking Metal

Closely related to the Pagan Metal is Folk Metal. Where they differ is that while Pagan Black Metal still kinda has the cool factor of Black Metal, Folk Metal has little to no coolness at all, and this shows in the logos. They often take their inspiration from Black Metal aesthetics, with logos made of lowercase blackletters or some Celtic type, with only some degree of symmetry on both opposite ends of the logo, if at all, and even then usually through decorative curls rather than through cool letter design.
Folk Metal

Don’t bother reading the following updates unless (1) you got too much time on your hands or (2) enjoy reading polemics.

Update 1

Update 2

Some Folk Metal bands to check out:

Black Metal Pirate Metal

Folk Metal and Viking Metal (Continued)

Some Folk bands take things to the next level by incorporating viking helmets and drinking-horns in their logos to signal to people, “When you come to our show, you’re free to live out your viking fantasy vicariously. By all means, bring your plastic drinking-horn!” And why wouldn’t you, if you’re a fan of Folk Metal. You’ve already ostracized yourself from typical metalheads anyway, you may as well commit to the LARP thing.

Folk Metal

Although a logo like this may give the impression that you’re actually dealing with a Viking Metal band, this doesn’t necessarily have to be so because it can still be a Folk Metal band. Now this is where things can get confusing …

Folk Metal is an offshoot of Black Metal in which traditional folk instruments and melodies are dominant, often to the point where there’s no trace left of the old Black Metal spirit. Now think of Black Metal and Folk Metal as two opposite ends of a single continuum on which Pagan (Black) Metal bands fall, leaning more on the Black Metal side of the continuum than the other.

When a Pagan (Black) Metal band’s content deals with Norse or Viking mythology instead of Neo-Pagan mythology and way of life – that’s when we’re dealing with a Viking metal band. After all, what is a Pagan but a Viking without a ship?

True enough, the German “Asa” (i.e. Germanic neo-Pagan) Metal band Falkenbach, a band that pioneered the Folk Metal genre, have quite often been labeled as a Viking Metal band by media outlets and scholars (see Update 2 above).

But wait! What if a Folk Metal band’s lyrics are a loveletter to Scandinavian national romanticism? Well, then that band, too, is a Viking Metal band. (Unless the band is called Ensiferum. They don’t call themselves Viking Metal, instead preferring the label of “Melodic Folk Metal.”)

Indeed, depending on a given band’s content, Viking Metal can be anything from Black(ish) Metal (Enslaved, Naglfar) to Folk(ish) Metal (Einherjer, Windir), to even Death(ish) Metal (Amon Amarth, Unleashed); and this because it’s a superficial crossgenre label that encompasses just about every band dealing with viking-age Scandinavia on whatever level.

This isn’t really helping, is it? I thought as much, which is why I already prepared something in advance to help you understand it more clearly. If you want to know if you’re dealing with a Black, Pagan, Folk, or Viking Metal band, you just have to ask yourself one question or two actually: If I am a non-drinker, will I enjoy this? Or should I start drinking?

Folk Metal

Show me the bigger picture.11

Some Folk Metal bands to check out:

Black Metal Melodic Death Metal Pagan Black Metal

[1] T. Neilson. Where Myth and Metal Collide: Finnish Folk Metal. In S.A. Wilson, ed. Music at the Extremes: Essays on Sounds Outside the Mainstream, p. 136, 2015.
[3] N. Franco. Cryptic Rock: Interview: Ville Sorvali of Moonsorrow., 2016.
[4] M. Miranovic. Metal Sound Magazine: Falkenbach: Heathen Pride, 2005.
[5] F. Petrella. SpazioRock: Falkenbach (Vratyas Vakyas)., 2011.
[6] D.L. Paxson. Essential Asatru: A Modern Guide to Norse Paganism, 2021.
[7] M. Taylor. Eternal Defiance: Celtic Identity and the Classical Past in Heavy Metal. In K.F.B. Fletcher and O. Umurhan, ed. Introduction: Where Metal and Classics Meet. In Classical Antiquity in Heavy Metal Music, p. 72, 2020.
[8] S. von Hoyningen-Huene. Religiosität bei rechtsextrem orientierten Jugendlichen, p. 247, 2002.
[10] I.-M. Manea. Primal Roots: Ancestry and Race in Extreme Music Discourse. In Proceedings of IAC-SSaH 2015: International Academic Conference on Social Sciences and Humanities in Prague 2015, p. 188, 2015.
[11] These pictures were lifted from an April 2014 article on Independent online. A. Molloy. Independent: Feeling disgustedly surprised? Scientists identify 21 facial expressions., 2014.

Take me back to the sample overview.