A Russian group who released their debut album in 2007, Svartby are the type of bouncy, almost clownish, folk metal band that is almost impossible to take seriously. If the album's cover art is any indication, though, they don't care. They're just having a good time, and they're taking you along for the ride. The music's lighthearted nature may be off putting to more serious metalheads, but for those of us who just want to kick back with a beer and be entertained, this album is an absolute pleasure.
The folk instruments really take center stage on this record. Rather than being accents that enhance the sound, they are instead right at the core of the songs. They are all simulated on keyboards, and since the production is very clean anyway, this can cause the music to come across as a bit sterile and electronic. Additionally, the simulated organ can get a bit circus-like in places. The overall sound of the riffs and guitar tone is derived more from power metal than from the black metal where most similar music has its roots. This moves the album even further from the cold northern wastes of the Vikings. The vocals are primarily mid-range death metal growls, which do add a little bite, though not enough to make this sound really heavy.
In summation, it's a purist's nightmare. If you're looking for organic orchestration, tastefully minimal folk instrumentation, or bloody northern brutality then you'll have to look elsewhere. If, on the other hand, you don't take yourself or your music too seriously and you just want to listen to something light and fun, you will probably enjoy this. The best comparison I can think of is Alestorm, but without all the pirates.
Fun, bouncy, and entertaining. Elitists, purists, and snobs will hate it. Clowns and goofballs will love it. The rest will have to hear it for themselves to see what they think.