By Dr. Abner Mality

Dr. Mality's history lesson for today: The Batavi were a pre-Christian tribe of ancient Europe who lived in the Rhine Valley Delta of the Netherlands. They were proud and fierce warriors as well as great farmers who fought as part of the Roman Empire. When their loyalty was repaid with treachery from the Romans, they rose up in revolt and battled their former masters. Though they eventually were absorbed by larger tribes, the Batavi were legendary for their honor and battle skill.

The story of the Batavi forms the backdrop for Heidevolk's latest album and I can think of no other band better suited to tell it. This is stirring, manly folk metal with no fluff or froth, delivered with heart and a straightforward bluntness. Whereas most folk/Viking/pagan metal gets too carried away with flutes, harps, lyres and the like, Heidevolk sticks to the METAL and focuses on powerful, catchy riffing that makes you want to grab a sword and cut down some Roman filth.  "Een Nieuw Begin" sets the tone right away and then the album really hits the stratosphere with the superb "De Toekomst Lonkt"...blazing thrash colliding head-on with lusty power metal.

The folkish element comes across mostly in the strong dual vocal approach of the band. A clear high tone mixed with a strong but still clear bass makes the Dutch lyrics sound like they are coming from the actual Batavi themselves on the march. It's a great sound that makes these tales of ancient struggle come to life, even though all the lyrics are in archaic Dutch. The album surges with most every tune following the template of the first two songs...the only exception is the melodic pure folk of "Veleda", which is still stirring in its own way.

Folk metal is a genre I only sporadically enjoy, but Heidevolk have come up with a true classic in "Batavi" and have paid a fine tribute to the spirits of their ancestors.