For me at least, the honeymoon with "folk metal" ended right around the time Finntroll stopped looking like this and started looking like this (mid-00's?). But there are Viking/Folklore/Mythologycore Black Metal bands that will forever withstand the test of time -- they are few and far between, to be sure, but Sogndal, Norway's WINDIR are definitely among them. Blending a curious mix of accordion, occasional drum machine, ambient, spacey synth, and "traditional" BM instrumentation (live drums, guitar, bass, screeching vocals), Windir put out a string of solid, folklore-driven albums between 1994 and 2004, led by multi-instrumentalist frontman Valfar (above right).
Sounding a bit like last week's offering Hellspawn, Windir's aural assault was a well-calculated cacophony of orchestral madness, whip-smart and not at all kvlt. Although the band began as Valfar's one-man project, the steady addition of more and more musicians to the fray was a wise one, as Windir's sound grew fuller and more realized over the years. Unfortunately, Valfar was trapped in a snowstorm and froze to death in 2004, putting an abrupt end to the career of one of Norway's finest folk-metal outfits. Pretty fucking metal.
SognaMetal (posthumous DVD tribute to Valfar featuring Finntroll, Enslaved, and the surviving members of Windir) on Blockbuster (???) / Century Media / Amazon.UK
Metallum / Last.FM / Website
RIP Terje “Valfar” Bakken 1978-2004