Folk Metal has been around sense the 1990’s. The earliest band that created this genre of music had to be Skyclad. They had an offshoot of heavy metal that included folkish instruments and folk singing. In recent years the genre has virtually exploded with many newcomers making this genre much more mainstream. Europe is very popular with folk heavy metal bands, probably because of the style, history and inspiration that the region reflects. The lyrics also tend to deal more with pagan beliefs and romanticism of pagan culture.
Like all other metal genres, there are always subgenres included. Some of the more popular ones that fall into folk metal are Viking, Oriental and Celtic metal. Cruachan was a pioneer of Celtic metal when we was experimenting with folk music of Ireland and put some traditional black metal elements into the music. Other notable bands in the genre are Primordial another black/folk metal fusion and Waylander.
Orphaned Land started making Arabic and Jewish style of folk music. This brought some media attention to the folk metal community in the early 90’s. After this style was brought to the public, people started labeling it as Oriental metal. This was similar to folk metal with more of a Middle Eastern style to it.
Viking metal music has flutes, clean melodic vocals and death metal growls incorporated into their music. Bathory was an early pioneer of this style in the early 90’s. Viking metal usually deals with powerful riffs that are about a forgotten time. Viking themed lyrics have been enjoyed in all mainstreams and popularity of metal music. Amon Amarth has produced some of these Viking lyrics and placed them in death metal. Ensiferium, another Swedish Viking metal band has set the bar higher for Viking metal, and is often the modern go-to band in defining the genre.
Folk metal themes are often strong shows of masculinity and nationalism. The Nationalism Socialism Black Metal community tries to get accept and prove a point in this genre of music. This misunderstanding has lead many bands to publicly denounce racism, whereby clearing the air of any speculation.
Folk metal has really inspired a bunch of die-hard fans with many festivals dedicated to the genre. Heathen Fest, Notably Paganfest and Noctis Valkyries Metal Festival. As time goes on and the genre expands these tours and festivals have made their way from the cold northern lands from whence they came across the sea to the States.
Folk metal has been label as a “fad” and that it will die out. But it roots of hard work and dedication will not be unnoticed. There is a lot of folk metal to take in. There is esoteric nature of the music and the realms of endless possibilities. For the metal community, folk metal will always have its place for those fans that want a different and unique style of metal music.