From the far north of Sweden come stories of Vikings so vivid you can almost hear the waves hitting the ship as the warriors row to conquer foreign lands. Hulkoff brings these stories to life with his second album Pansarfolk to be released on September 25, 2020.
The followup to 2017’s Kven, Pansarfolk follows the same successful formula. Authenticity reigns through heavy guitars paired with graphic stories which are told in both Swedish and English. Hulkoff also adds to the intensity of this album by incorporating violins. While that may seem like an oxymoron to some, the strings add a frantic sound that intensifies the music. Especially with the man behind the violin, Thomas Von Wachenfeldt, who Hulkoff refers to as “A master Virtuoso.”
Pansarfolk begins with “Martial,” and from the first notes, you hear the influence the violin plays in the album. Don’t be fooled though, the song still shreds as you expect from Hulkoff. My favorite part of the song is midway through when the scream “Odin” can be heard.
“Ingvar” is up next and you can hear Vikings singing along as they row into the unknown to conquer, led by Ingvar. The history lesson continues with “King Wada”, which is best described as “The Devil went to Georgia” on steroids. It incorporates a fast beat with the violin to create a “berserker” sound.
The unique beat of “Hamingia” gives it almost a hip hop vibe. The beat combined with Hulkoff’s singing style during the verses lends to its unique sound.
One of my favorite songs on Pansarfolk is “Hildisvin.” The song features Erik Grawsiö and references an old Norse poem found in Flateyjarbok. The character Freyja is searching for the ancestry of her protégé. Freyja rides on a boar named Hildisvíni. The song also references a cult of warriors that worship the boar. The lyrics of the song are amazingly vivid:
“By the Spear of Odin
And the Hammer of Thor
I wallow in guts
I root in the Gore
We are the War Pigs
The Hogs of War
We are the Swine Cult
We worship the Boar”
“Over Dead Man” brings a more folk-like sound to the album. The song is deep lyrically and reflects the ancestry of the Viking heritage. “Ride Hard” picks the pace back up but continues a Metal/Folk sound. The chorus says it all, “Ride Hard, Shoot Straight, and always speak the truth.”
Another great song is “Lament of the Hephthalite.” As the Vikings explored the earth their reach became obvious as they stretched into Central Asia. “Lament of the Hephthalite” is about that expansion. Another great song about rulers of the past is “Ulidin.” The history runs deep in this heavy melodic song of the past. “Lonewolf” is a song that could fit in musically with Hulkoff’s other project The Burbon Boys. The song has great twang in it.
The last song on Pansarfolk leaves no doubt about the heaviness of Hulkoff. The fast beat and agitated sound of “Varangian” is the perfect way to end a historically heavy album.
For those that love and worship Hulkoff, your pre-ordered copy is on its way. For those who may be new to the Hulkoff sound and stories, check out Pansarfolk. It not only combines elements of many sub-genres of metal but it tells stories of a culture and people who helped shape the future of the world as we know it. Pansarfolk will be released in both Swedish and English on September 25, 2020. I found myself listening to the Swedish version after listening to the English to hear how the language translated musically. Both versions will leave you impressed.
Stream or purchase Pansarfolk on all major streaming platforms and order a physical copy from Hulkoff himself. He might even sign a copy for you.