Drakwald is a French band, but they might as well hail from Scandinavia. Since their inception around 2011, they have been heavily influenced by bands such as Children Of Bodom, Korpiklaani, Ensiferum, Moonsorrow and Amon Amarth, which seems perfectly represented in their music. The standard (death) metal line-up is enhanced by flutes and other ancient instruments, giving the whole that awesome pagan atmosphere.
I know that there are many bands out there who try to fit in with the pagan metal scene but only a few of them really succeed in creating something interesting. Most of those bands sound way too similar, pretty much becoming copycats. I guess it's the lack of decent songwriting capabilities, but you won't find that on 'Riven Earth'. These songs are solid, varied, full of power and energy and for some reason, they fly by like an ancient freight train.
I'm not going into a song-by-song description, since every song is pretty much made up from the same elements and contains a similar amount of variation. Everything alternates, almost constantly. Voices ranges from blackened screams over death growls to heroic chanting. The rest of the music ranges from joyful folky passages to fierce acts of metal, exactly what a pagan metal fan actually needs.
My favorite songs are 'Erase By Fire', 'Murdering The Darkness' and 'Never Rising Sun', but I would recommend listening to the entire album, at least a few times. I really like the narrative and scenical feel of this full-length. I like how it's sometimes hard to tell when one song is done and another one begins. That's one of the qualities of a good album, the feeling of a concept. So check it out and join me in a massive ancient headbanging session...