Batavi by Heidevolk (Napalm Records)
As Heidevolk celebrates their tenth year in existence, the Pagan/folk metal collective has unleashed what is sure to be their worldwide breakthrough effort. Batavi is the name is their latest masterwork, an intriguing concept album about the Batavian tribe from the beginnings to their daring attempts to topple the powerful Roman Empire between 69-70 AD. Although the lyrics are performed mainly in Dutch, the music speaks volumes, instantly transporting the listener into the past glories and defeats of another age.
One notices right away the dual clean vocal assaults of Joris Boghtdrincker and Mark Bockting, lending a grand sense of prestige and accomplishment into the proceedings. Even in you understand nary a word, one still feels the sense of legend and urgency in the opulent two part harmonics. Reamon Bloem displays a dazzling sense of guitar mastery while bassist Rowan Middelwijk and drummer Joost Westdijk dispatch a highly charged to perfection rhythm section. Fans of acts such as Tyr and Falconer are destined to marvel at the adventurous manifestations of the Heidevolk experience.
The Batavi journey commences with the staggering sounds of Een Nieuw Begin (A New Beginning), an explosive introduction that will impress metal aficionados from all over the world. One glorious highlight on the album is De Toekomst Lonkt (The Future Beckons), whose classic choruses and haunting vocals will remain within your head for an eternity. Als De Dood Weer Naar Ons Lacht (When Death Smiles At Us Again) is another standout cut that will make you want to bang your head as you encounter the majestic melodies. This track is also featured as a video on the Napalm Records Youtube.
Concluding the nine song magnum opus is the sweeping Vrijgevochten (Fought To Freedom), with its haunting chants and somber musical reveries. As the disc spins to its dazzling finale, one is left with a feeling of sheer triumph – ready to take on the world at large. Skillfully mixed by metal legend Peter Tägtgren, Batavi by Heidevolk is a distinguished genre classic that will linger in your mind throughout the epic passages of time.
(Review by Kenneth Morton)