While their towering neighbor Ensiferum has tottered in recent years, St. Petersburg’s Nomans Land has continued forging powerful folk metal music in the same vein. Although nothing groundbreaking, their fifth album, titled Last Crusade and released in June of this year, is a solid and enjoyable effort.
Ensiferum fans will likely enjoy this release, since many of the songs are highly reminiscent of that band’s characteristic sound. The songs “Right to Luck,” “Victory Horns,” and “Dragons” basically sound like they could be Ensiferum songs, with fast, epic, tremolo-picked guitar riffs, snarling harsh vocals, and melodies very much in Ensiferum’s style. But Nomans Land adds a few unique touches as well, such as the choral singing in the chorus of “Right to Luck,” black metal-ish tremolo interludes in “Victory Horns,” and the bouncy chorus about “magic mushrooms” in “Dragons,” which makes me think of singing dwarves.
Between those two songs is “Strain at the Oars,” which sounds rather like Amon Amarth, with riffs in that band’s style and an attempt at lower harsh vocals. The harsh vocalist and bassist Hjervard’s vocals don’t have the powerful depth of Johan Hegg, though; he’s more suited to the higher-pitched Ensiferum-like harsh vocals. The gang chorus sounds a little ragged, but it does give the song some of the band’s own flavor.
Toward the end of the album, Nomans Land’s own sound shines through. “Last Crusade” combines a speedy power metal underpinning with Amorphis-like melancholy riffage, as well as throatier growls and a grand clean chorus. “Warrior’s Path” starts out with a galloping charge that pauses only briefly to allow the vocalist space to sing. “Sons Of The Nord,” near the beginning of the album, also has some thick, galloping riffs more like German power metal than Finnish melodeathy Viking metal. “Bereza,” the last song on the album, is heavy on Russian folk melody, with solemn vocals in Russian over tremolo guitars that trace out folk melodies at times somber, at times danceable, and mix it all into frenzied riffage.
Personally, I like folk metal with a lot of folk in it, so I like what Nomans Land does with “Bereza” more than the parts of the album that sound like an Ensiferum copy. But they don’t do a bad job at sounding like Ensiferum, making for a fun listen.