If there is something that often goes unnoticed in musical circles, it is the importance of acting performance. “From Scandza” opens with pomp and circumstance, with a prologue worthy of a film production and an epic attack that winks as much at the warrior-folk element as at the big names in thrash metal.
Let’s start by saying we are looking at a relatively young band. “From Scandza,” released on 17 March 2023, by Dark Rails Records, is the debut album of Finnish Toni Cano’s Midjungards. It is certainly an ambitious and wide-ranging debut, weaving History with the temptation of free and enthusiastic headbanging. “From Scandza” presents an extremely complex musical architecture, made of refined riffs and right portions of intervals. A Hollywood frame, which allows one to appreciate the scenic breadth of folklore without forgetting the technical prowess of an innovative rig for the reference genre.
After the impressive intro, we move on to the sonic organicity of “Hordes of Hate” and “Dark Streets”: a flawless pair, an excellent narrative continuum that highlights the totality of the elements involved. It is with “Still Here” that we begin to enter the depths of the historical events, with a triumphant march that does not disdain a real divulging intent, as you can appreciate in the song’s lyrics video:
Title-track moment: “From Scandza To Covadonga”, a song that may stir some minor controversy. The first notes are in fact a true homage to Guns n’ Roses and their “Civil War”. An intentional citation, which emphasizes Midjungards‘ personal songwriting, Again, a piece reminiscent of Californian colossal, capable of maintaining a high threshold of auditory attention. “From Scandza To Covadonga” offers very clean variations, launching the score into merciless speed and ending with a pure transition into darkness.
With “Hidden Fatality”, the folk element wins out. Sounds of blood and winters lost in time accompany a doomed ride – it has to be said in every sense, including that of the word itself, the inexorable fate of humanity. This song is a safe haven for lovers of the folk genre, who will appreciate the acoustic phantoms of pipes and great anthems.
As is fitting, “Entering History” marks a brief watershed. The strings become more scratchy, the vocals darken, and the bass slows down a few pitches, giving way to melodies that tend to be decadent. “Sons of Gaut”, my personal highlights for this record, follows. It almost seems the intro has undergone an expansion in this track. More evident than elsewhere here is the Finnish element, the splendid melodious cadence, the up and down chord, mixing the sweetness of the score with the brutality of the lunges, as only in Karelia is possible.
“Fire Storm” signs the end of the opus. A closure with some weaknesses, at least compared to the great journey that was “From Scandza”. This firestorm is slightly unbalanced and fails to explode apocalyptically, remaining in the safe zone of metal catchy motifs.
All in all, an excellent debut, which manages to retain the folk element without sacrificing some experimentation. Doubtless, Midjungards will be able to surprise us in the future. They are certainly a band not to be missed.
Want to learn more about the backstory of “From Scandza”? Chaoszine had the pleasure of interviewing Midjungards founder Toni Cano. You can find out what he has to say here.