This month I’ve returned with more mead and an even more thematically appropriate album for this ancient drink, so let’s dive in with Kromheim’s Journey to Divinity and Groennfell’s Varangian.
The Tunes: Kromheim – Journey to Divinity
Given the immense popularity of Amon Amarth it may seem futile to make Viking-themed melodeath, but Kromheim manage to successfully incorporate several different death metal styles with their debut full-length Journey to Divinity. Gothenburg-style riffing and soaring leads form the core of Kromheim’s sound, but as the band state they aim to bring more “death” back into this type of melodic death metal. There’s plenty of buzz saw trem-picking, blast beats, and chugs that wouldn’t feel out of place among the early greats of the genre, coupled with some deep, brutal vocals. Of course, this is still inspired by Viking warriors of old; the necessarily epic atmosphere is achieved through the use of choirs that would make Quorthon proud. Kromheim aren’t breaking any new ground, but this is still a fist-pumping, headbanging, fun listen.
The Booze: Groennfell Meadery’s Varangian
Today’s mead is one of three new releases from Vermont’s Groennfell, all made in collaboration with the Swedish Viking-inspired merchandise company Grimfrost (co-founded by Amon Amarth’s Johan Hegg). Varangian is brewed with cinnamon and rosehips (the fruit of the rose — yes, I had to look that up) and while I don’t know what the latter tastes like on its own, this proves to be a winning combination. This mead is sweet and smooth yet full, with only a hint of the tartness that is a characteristic of many others. I’ve had another of Groennfell’s meads that included cinnamon and was disappointed to find that the ingredient didn’t really come through, but that’s definitely not the case here. To be perfectly honest my favorite thing about this mead is the smell. Thanks to the generous inclusion of cinnamon, it’s toasty and warm, like a freshly baked loaf of bread. As with pretty much every other mead I’ve tried I’d say Varangian is best about 30 minutes out of the fridge in order to let the flavors (and smells, in this case) really bloom. Time will tell, but I think Varangian has dethroned Old Wayfarer as my favorite mead.
Cheers, and be good to each other