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Viking metal' is a term used in reference to heavy metal music with a dramatic emphasis on Norse mythology, Norse paganism, and the life and times of Northern and Central Europeans prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia. The genre is closely associated with folk metal. It is still debated whether or not Viking metal can be considered a stand alone "genre", or merely an ideological off-shoot of other genres, as the influence of style being played varies among artists.
Viking metal may be traced to its references to Nordic gods and warfare. The first group to use an early version of Viking metal was Led Zeppelin with songs like "Immigrant Song" and "No Quarter" with references to famous Vikings and Viking gods. In addition, Black Sabbath's "Children of the Sea" contained the acoustic guitars and choir vocals that would later appear in prominent Viking metal works, along with lyrics about seafaring. But the first heavy metal band to combine all the elements typical of the genre was Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force with the song "I Am a Viking" in the 1985 album Marching Out. The first entire album to be dominated by such an ideology can be traced to the Swedish black metal band Bathory, with the release of their fourth album in 1988, Blood Fire Death. The album blended the aesthetics of black metal with an atmosphere of war and Norse mythology. Quorthon (the leader of Bathory) explains some of the philosophy behind the musical and lyrical changes from black metal to Viking metal in Bathory on the official website.
Bathory would continue on to innovate the genre further with their next release in 1990, titled Hammerheart. The album further explored the romantic elements of the previous album, and experimented with Scandinavian folk instruments and musical form. Along with Skyclad's The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth, Hammerheart helped form the metal subgenre folk metal. The album is regarded by many as an important and influential release in Viking metal's history.
Style and themesEdit
Common among Viking metal is a reverence for pagan Germanic, or specifically Viking, culture with a rejection of contemporary Christianity and disdain for the Christianisation of Northern Europe in favor of a pre-Christian, Pagan society. Thus, most Viking metal bands are derived from Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and German black metal groups, and are native Scandinavians and Germans, often associating themselves with pagan and Ásatrú beliefs.
The music is often highly romanticized and epic in composition and sound, reflecting Norse mythology itself, and creates an atmosphere rich both in Germanic heroic and metal music tradition. While some bands sing in English to reach a wider audience, many write lyrics in their own native languages (Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish or Icelandic) or archaic versions thereof.
Confusion with Nazism and far-right extremismEdit
Template:Refimprove Some Viking metal fanbases, such as the online Viking metal broadcasting channel Valhala Radio, have experienced actions from anti-Nazi groups. Valhalla Radio has been forced to put up a disclaimer on their site that clarifies that neither they nor Viking metal is linked to Nazism or racism.
The link between Norse mythology and Nazism is generally thought to originate in the years of the Second World War. Use of Norse symbolism was used to construct a Scandinavian nationalism based on their common Viking heritage. This symbolism was so extensively used that even today, some people associate symbols such as Thor's hammer, the sun-cross, Oseberg-art, etc. with Nazism.