Folk metal ain’t dead, y’all! Sure, Finntroll has become a joke, Alestorm has descended into madness and I don’t even know what happened to Turisas, but there’s still hope. From countries you might not even know about great tunes are coming forth. Ūkanose is one of those bands from Lithuania who create some waves with the self-titled debut.
Lithuanian folk music is heavily characterised by ritualistic chanting and war songs, they have a special quality to them. They feel outlandish, magical and somewhat overwhelming at times. Ūkanose manages to incorporate that into their metal music. So we don’t have a band playing metal with some fiddles, but a genuine blend and that for me is the magic of folk metal.
The songs of Ūkanose offer a specific sadness, a weariness of live and look to the past you also find in Slavic bands like Drudkh. An accordeon gives a bit of a jolly feel to some of the songs, but what really it does is create that continuous flow that is so important in the Baltic music. It makes it also very easy for a listener to jump into their music and feel the passage of time in a more calm and natural way. There’s a closeness to nature in the sound, to tradition and folklore. You don’t even need to understand the lyrics for that.
Ūkanose translates as fog, which is a good metaphor for the sound of the band. The pace is slow, but constantly progressing. The vocals are easy, chanted and often in multiple voices. All in all it’s an album that is much closer to the volky sound of Ugniavijas. A favorite track for me is ‘Skrenc bitela’. The calm repetition of the vocals on such a flat tone is hypnotizing but catching. The guitars merely serve as a heavy fundament to build up the song upon.
This record is one that takes you to a different time and age. It takes you to dancing around the fire in praise of forgotten gods. Noteworthy is the song ‘Gerkime’, a CorvaxCorax cover. This music comes from a genuine place, not just one where you raise drinking horns wearing a kilt. Well worth a listen.
Metal music has found its way to remote parts of the world, but rarely to ones so isolated as Yakutsk. Yakutsk is the capital of the Sakha Republic, an autonomous region of Russia that covers about as much ground as India, but has only one million inhabitants. This article was originally published on Echoes & Dust. A thinly populated region, covered in ice and snow, and inhabited by the Sakha people gave birth to the band Hounds of Bayanay. Modern technology allows the band to create music an unleash it onto the world, but it’s really a complete DIY mentality that the group has. But what a place to make metal music. A land so heavily under the elements, with a people that live far away from any real bustling region.
In a way that is something you can find in the sound of Hounds of Bayanay. They’re eclectic and unique, finding their own sound in the city of Yakutsk, which has virtually no music industry present to speak of. Listening to bands they love, they created a sound so distinct that it truly represents their place in the world. I was fortunate to get in touch with the group and have a chat about that.
Can you kindly introduce yourselves and your band? Where does the name Hounds of Bayanay come from?
The band has been in existence since 2014, when Alex Yakovlev ‘Red Hat’ (rhythm guitar), Gregory Grigoriev ‘Klath’ (drums) and Slava Sivcev ‘Sleeva’ (bass/vocals) decided to start a ‘Sakha’ ethno-metal band. The previous band, Fahrenheit, had collapsed. Vocalist Aina Egorova ‘Keres’ and solo guitarist Michil Mekumyanov ‘Chillet’ joined the band as well and so Hounds of Bayanay was formed.
About the name, it may sound a bit silly but it started as a joke. Imagine how the media would call a Sakha terrorist group? But the name sounded hilarious and bad-ass at the same time. Bayanay – in sakha mythology – is a spirit and master of nature. He is considered the patron of hunters. The Cult of Bayanay still exists today and hunters in Sakha still pray to Bayanay to ask for favor before the hunt. Though our songs and music are not about Bayanay and the hunt themselves, it connects us to the themes of mythology and folklore of Sakha. Legends and forgotten tales of our people and the greatness of the northern nature.
How did you guys get into making metal music? What bands originally inspired you to make this sort of music? Each of us have been listening to metal since we were young, but our inspiration is very different. Bands like Metallica, Nightwish, Behemoth, System of a Down and even The Red Hot Chili Peppers are part of that inspiration. Yakutia already had many folk bands since the eighties. An example is Cholbon, who are considered the Siberian Pink Floyd and had success in Russia. The band has even been on a world tour. In 2003 a band named 103 emerged as the first folk metal band. They are huge in Yakutia now.
What are your inspirations for starting Hounds of Bayanay and choosing the lyrical themes you have picked? I find when listening to the music, that there’s a unique, ethnic element to your sound. How did you shape that?
What we wanted to create is something heavy, dark and wild, but at the same time it must contain chanting and feel festive like old Sakha folk songs and shaman ritual chanting. The band 103 was a huge inspiration, but we wanted something with more aggression, more blood and gore. The lyrics needed more pathos and mysticism. I suppose that through this our band was born.
In 2016 we started to find out that our music was not only beloved in our native Yakutia. It was then we started to connect and communicate with people from abroad, who loved folk metal music. They told us to spread our music even further. We had been playing live shows in our home town mostly. We were playing new songs at gigs and recording was put second. In 2016 we had also changed some band members. Before we didn’t have big plans, but that changed everything. We had a goal to record our first album, so that’s where we started on our EP ‘MYYC’.
You’ve released your EP Myyc. Can you tell us how the writing and recording process looked like? What sort of facilities did you use and what sort of process do you take in making your music?
We actually wrote and recorded the music in our garage during very dark and freezing evenings. All we had really was a few laptops to work on and USB-audio interfaces. After recording the vocals and the guitars, Alex and Gregory made the other music stuff.
I find, when I listen to your music, that in there you have something rather unique, it feels very ethnic and different. Are there specific bands that you feel inspire your folk metal sound?
The band 103 might be the closest inspiration we have.
In 2016 you’ve not just released your EP, but also dropped 2 demo’s. What was the motivation behind unleashing so much material in such a short time?
Well, one EP and two demo’s… We’d do more if we had the time for it.
On metal archives your lyrical theme is listed as ‘Yakut folklore’. I find that this otherness, this different cultural background is very tangible and strongly expressed in the music youe been making. Can you tell us a bit about that Yakut folklore, what is it about, what sort of elements return in it?
Yakut folklore is based on the pagan beliefs and ther epos “Olonkho”. Briefly described, there are three worlds: Upper, Middle and Lower. All of them is connected by giant tree “Aal Luk”. The upper world is world of Gods “Ayii”(Айыы), the ,middle world is settled by humans and the Lower world is full of demons “Ajaray”. In the epos, often, demons capture woman and the humans then will have to send one of hteir legendary heroes to rescue her. The hero will ask for the help of the Gods and must succeed to protect his people.
There also some more realistic folklore of yakutian people. Folklore of forgotten times when vast clans and tribes waged endless wars, powerfull shamans who gathered armies to destroy other nations and heroes who fought and sacrificedthemselves for justice. All of this is inspiring to many poets, writers and ourselves
Do you also put something Yakut, something typical, in your music?
Sometimes we put throat singing and we sometimes use the Khomus (something like jew’s-harp).
You’re making music very far from Moscow, far from any place commonly known as a centre for metal music. What is it like to make this sort of music in Yakutsk? Are there venues, record shops, studio’s and rehearsal spaces there? Do you lack any means to make music?
Yakutsk is a relatively small city and if you take a look at the map you’ll find that it is positioned in the middle of non-settled lands. Most of these lands are covered with snow and ice. This means we lack the professionalism in metal, we have no specialised sound people, there are no huge stadiums or arenas filled with metalheads…
What we do have are talented musicians. People with a will to create something original. We have willpower and it seems like we’re slowly getting something done. The population is not huge here, so there’s also no big amount of metal heads. There are no venues, no record shopws, no studio’s and no rehearsal spaces. All we have is unbreakable enthousiasm and metal unity.
There are atleast two or three annual music festivals for bands to perform at. Gigs are organised in local bars by enthousiasts and musicians themselves.
What sort of scene exists where you are from, are there other bands you think people should check out? That you’d recommend (and why?)?
People should check band “103” they sound very hard and very folklorish. Just check it out!
What future plans do you guys have at this point?
For now we are fully concentrated on recording our first album this year, it already took long enough now.
If you had to describe Hounds of Bayanay as a dish (food) what dish would it be and why this particular one?
If Hounds of Bayanay was a dish it would be elk cooked in a cauldron on a campfire. It would be a sign of Bayanay’s blessings after a hunt, when the hunter can reward himself with this delicious meat and drink some kymys.It is the real happiness for a sakha hunter: campfire, smell of cooking meat, taiga which surrounds you and not single soul for hundreds of kilometers.
Label: Cold Smoke Records Band: Hey Satan Origin: Switzerland
Ok, I’ll admit that I started listening to this band for the simple reason that their name is Hey Satan. Sue me, it’s a catchy name and the artwork also looked appealing. As you may have guessed, there’s nothing black metal about this record, but there’s some good sounds to get down to on this record.
Hey Satan hails from Switzerland, a basis for cool and catchy tunes. Bands from there often have their own approach to things and these guys sound nothing like you’d picture a Swiss band to sound like. The music the group produces is that of a sun scorched desert, with a cold beer in your hand. Oh yeah!
Blearing riffs that seem to hang in the still air endlessly, grooving vocals… this is stoner the way we love it! Fuzzy effects create that sweltering, hot sound on ‘Legal Aspects of Love’. The traces of grunge still freshly detectable in the slow, heavy guitar parts, this is some stuff to rock out to. The delivery is perfect, but with a bite when the band adds some agression to the mix.
Think Queens of the Stone Age/Kyuss, but with a little twist here and there. The continuous warm, fuzzy wall of guitars creates that feeling of everything standing still. For a moment and then it all takes of and you can almost smell the tarmac under your wheels. Vocalist Francois can switch between that static style of singing to the more energetic, pumped up style of Neil Fallon (yes, the guy from Clutch). Then again, the band can sound really big on songs like ‘Bastardizer’.
The coolest thing about this record, is that it is immensely energetic, upbeat and catcy. Sure, it’s sticking to the classic road to glory, but there’s a reason that this works. Surprising track is ‘Black Flags Down’, which is smooth and catchy one moment and harsh and violent the other. There’s a lot of skill here and this band has everything to entice fans of the genre once more with this debut.
Label: Pagan Records Band: Mord’A’Stigmata Origin: Poland
Mord’A’Stigmata is one of the interesting bands emerging from Poland, with a tendency to explore the boundaries of what black metal is, seeking to expand, grow and energize the genre in their own way. The band has been around for a good 13 years and has now released album number four ‘Hope’.
For a band that deals with the depressive reality of our lives, its a far flung term, but where darkness is hope lives, does it not? That seems to be the theme for this album. The artwork doesn’t spell that much good for the future though. Gnarled branches reaching upwards in the dark and smoke rising from it. Well, time to give this a spin. Out on PaganRecords, this is an album by a band within the Polish tradition, where conviction and a feeling of glow are part of the sound.
The titletrack that kicks of seems to rely on a sort of post-metal trance-state that the listeners get swallowed up in. Repetitive riffing for about 12 minutes is indeed a heavy experience. But thanks to the catchy sound, the emotional clarity and a certain less-is-more approach to the sound, this is something special to experience. The production is well tight on this first song, allowing you to sink into it almost instantly in the first minutes. The vocals slither in, offering words in a similar tone as Nergal/Johan Edlund (Behemoth/Tiamat). It gives more depth to the music, which seems to combine that hypnotic side with a gothic/doom aspect.
The commanding vocals work well with the constant build up an tension in the music. The track ‘The Tomb from Fear and Doubt’, we hear the vocalist Ion deliver with conviction. The lyrics are a bit peculiar though and seem to be more those of a love song. I’m not sure if that is what they are, but this sometimes is really the language barrier. The track maybe dwindles on some aspects too long, but following tune ‘To Keep The Blood’ gets us back to strength. Though you can feel the black metal aspect in all music by Mord’A’Stigmata, this record is much more a rock album. The way the songs balance out the slow, atmospheric guitar and drum passages and clearly articulated words.
Like the final track ‘In Less Than No Time’, this is a song to just sink into. That I find the biggest strength of hope, the way they put those endless passages in there that completely suck you in. I really enjoy listening to this album. The music is not overly complex, but catchy. The eclectic nature of the band puts them in a much broader stream of music. This I think will be very good for their popularity. The Polish metal scene is definitely developing a more and more distinct sound.
Label: Northern Heritage Band: Clandestine Blaze Origin: Finland
The raw, artistic brilliance of Mikko Aspa can’t be denied as he spews out a new Clandestine Blaze album shortly after his last endeavour with Deathspell Omega. The Finnish one man band had been a quiet since 2015’s ‘New Golgotha Rising’, but now is back with ‘City of Slaughter’
Aspa is a fascinating character and has been producing massive amounts of music through the years. I would recommend reading this Heathen Harvest interview with the man if you’d like to know more. Other musical avenues he’s been working on is Vapaudenristi, Grunt, Creamface and D.O.M., all exploring different directions of extremity.
The album is out on his own label, so Aspa is in full control of this release. It feels like this record returns to the roots of the dirty punk sound that makes up Clandestine Blaze. From opener ‘Remembrance of a Ruin’, a lazy rhythm rambles onwards with repetitive arching riffs. This creates the feeling of something freakish, while barked vocals roar over the tunes. It’s a remarkable side of this release, it never feels that much like a black metal album. The second part of this song becomes much more of a doomy/sludge passage. The whole record from there on sounds particularly muddled, sticky and grimy, not with the clean, cold riffs you’d associate with black metal.
Still, the blast beats are there and the bestial growls from Aspa are nothing less than ghoulish, unearthly growls. The production is just precisely right to create that feeling of a formless, crawling abject entity that is the sound of Clandestine Blaze. So yeah, I love this album, it makes me feel like bashing stuff and spray painting the office walls at work. Primitve fury oozes from this record, particular favorite is ‘Return Into The City Of Slaughter’, which feels like a crusty Darkthrone in a tar pit tune. Simple, pitch black and really captivating. Raw hatred in the vocals, blistering riffs and a good pace to let loose to.
‘City of Slaughter’ recaptures the spirit of oldschool black metal in its ferocious primitive fury. A record to fall in love with the genre to again.
I got to know Spaceslug thanks to their amazing album ‘Lemanis’ (read the review here). The Polish band truly embraces the spaced out stoner sound like not many band have done in recent years. Unlike the Bongzilla’s of this world, Spaceslug really let’s every riff ride out its trajectory, not trying to go for that constant hitting the heavy riffs.
The group has now dropped the follow up, titled ‘Time Travel Dlilemma’. On the cover we see the Space Slug travelling into the great beyond. The great print really fits the futuristic, dreamy sound of the band. What I love so much is how this all seems to come so natural to the guys, like a walk in the park. I felt that same thing when I published this short interview.
The trio seems to be taking things a bit more serious on this album. The previous record sounded great, but it is clear that more work went into this new effort. The sound is more balanced, more purposeful. Languid, easy going riffs really float by, nowhere does it really touch that solidity that is familiar from most stoner. It’s really meandering and drifting through space on the heavy but somehow mellow riffs on the titletrack ‘Orion’.
The mis seems to be on purpose a bit hazy on tracks like ‘Living the Eternal Now’, to make the interplay between the notes as smooth and dreamy as possible. Spaceslug have found their niche along bands like Mantra Machine, Sungrazer and maybe even some Colour Haze. On the title track Sander Haagmans from Sungrazer actually sings. There’s no real propulsion, no earthiness to their sound on this record, which distiniguishes them from the feisty, driven stoner bands with sand between their teeth. When Bartosz Janik is singing, he’s never doing that biting, agressive thing, he just sings to the void. The reverberating bass, the soaring riffs…
In space there is no wind, no weight, no direction and that is translated into the music of Spaceslug. This album definitely connects with the genre at large, but melts in shoegaze and postrock to create a new dimension. Spaceslug measures their force and slowly slides onward to stardom.
Label: self released Origin: Canada Band: The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets
Not every band that deals with books or games is automatically a gimmick. When done well, an act can truly be an addition to the original experience. So it is with a lot of the Lovecraft tributes and The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets is one of the coolest I’ve come across this far.
The band from Vancouver in British Columbia has been around for an astonishing 25 years, setting the tales of the horror master to catchy rock tunes. The group is well deep in their matter and sadly I missed them in my quest for Lovecraft inspired acts as a soundtrack to reading the books. The sound of the group is catchy, up-tempo rock music, with a penchant for the over the top antics. I really enjoyed this album, be warned. Oh, here’s those Lovecraft bits.
Opener ‘You Fool! Warren is Dead’ is a reference to the short story ‘The Statement of Randolph Carter’. It’s a supercatchy, clap-along, hitting that high-hats driven tune. You can’t sit still to that track, while the story is really one that freezes you in your bed/seat/wherever you read that haunting last line. There’s something nineties rock vibe to tunes like ‘Ararchnotopia’. Early FooFighters cute rock tunes almost.
Smooth, sunny tunes I can hear on ‘Coelacanthem’ that remind you of the waving palm trees and coconuts. Calm drums and the thick surf guitars complete the picture. It shows something of the variety the band manages to offer. On ‘The Great Molasses Disaster’ we get some shredding guitar again. I really dig the vocals of this band, they’re particularly versatile. The group itself is just really a talented bunch of musicians, creating catchy tunes. No two songs are the same and you’ll easily stick with them for the whole album.
There’s more though, on the track ‘Erich Zahn’ we have a little gipsy orchestra playing. If you like some catchy rock with your cosmic horror, The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets are your guys!
I enjoyed another pile of books, this time including Thoreau, Snyder, Thieme and Murakami. I’ve really been reading a lot and that is never a bad thing.
Henry David Thoreau – Walden
For some reason I didn’t get through it the first time, but I’ve finished and enjoyed Thoreau’s influential book Walden. Walden deals with the 2 years Thoreau lived in the woods to test himself and see what he needed to have meaning in his life. It’s a fascinating read full of contemplation and admiration for that which surrounds the author on his time in the forest next to Walden pond. From describing catching a fighting set of ants under a jar, feeding the squirrels and watching the fish to his outlook on society at its time and further thoughts. All written in the eloquent style of a philosopher that is still searching for his truths, not willing to force them onto the reader.
Thoreau has many insights while staying in his self-build cabin, which are highly influential to wanderers and lovers of nature still. Not only his thoughts and appreciation for nature, but as well his thoughts on eating meat. Vegetarians will like this book for those insights early in time. Thoreau laments the fact that a hunter takes away his chance to enjoy the encounter with a deer on his path. This simple but concrete description is very throught provoking, even for the most staunch opponents to such ideas. The book is also a testament to declaring the strenght, ingenuity and skill of humans to fend for themselves. It’s a plea for a specific anarchism, also illustrated by the encounters Thoreau has with a woodsman, who has no interest in money. This book can change your life, truly.
Marianne Thieme – De Eeuw van het Dier
Recently I converted to the Dutch ‘Animal Party’ as my political choice, I realized I knew very little about the movement and the history of that movement. I thought it’d be a good idea to read up. While waiting for the arrival of party leader Marianne Thieme’s latest book, I purchased an earlier write-up from the earlier days of the party. I read this book and was instantly captivated by the factual descriptions, numbers and huge amount of information. Sure, this book was a couple of years old, but I can hardly imagine that much has changed as yet. Part of the book is also personal, about the history of Thieme as an animal fan and how she got to the point in life she is at now.
The numbers are staggering. The amount of unnecesary cruelty against animals is shocking and I’m amazed at how long I managed to push this knowledge away from myself. Sure, deep down you’re always aware at some level of what’s happening in those massive stables, but we love imagining that it’s not that bit of meat on my plate. A furthr section of the book contains letters from famous supporters of the party, with their own wit and insight into matters. It’s a joy to read, it offers so many connecting points for any reader. The last part are recipes. I’m keen to try those out in my new vegetarian lifestyle.
Haruki Murakami – The Elephant Vanishes
Every once in a while I crave the work of Murakami. His clean descriptions, the strange magics in reality, the puzzling encounters and endless trivialities are always a joy for me to read. It’s pleasing me in both content and form. This far I’ve read the longer works of him and really could immerse myself in there and learn about the characters but this time I chose a different book. The title is ‘The Elephant Vanishes’, it’s the title of the final short story in this book of short stories. Short stories are an art form in itself. To tell your story in a 700 page book is in a way much easier, because you can expand and work around things as much as you like. The short story requires a focussed, condensed amount of information that still packs the right punch.
The stories gathered in this book have been published over a span of years in various magazines and periodicals. I have the feeling that Murakami has used these short stories to really experiment with storytelling and fiction. You can recognize elements of these stories from titles like ‘IQ84’ and ‘Norwegian Wood’. The plesure was in that I listened to parts of this book and hearing different narrators tell the stories helps to really distinguish between the stories and put them in seperate time frames and settings. For example the story ‘Little Green Monster’, that is particularly weird and felt very un-Murakami-like. Still the sentient being, the craving for contact, loneliness and merciless human character are all too familiar aspects. ‘The Dancing Dwarf’ is an adult fairy tale by Murakami, where everything has consequences. Other stories find the magic in every day life. In that way, another beautifull piece of writing by the author.
Timothy Snyder – On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century
For some reason we never learn from our history and nothing proves it so convincingly as this book by Timothy Snyder. Snyder is a university teacher and researcher, who specializes in Eastern-Europe and the Holocaust. This is not an immense book, but a rather quick read, dense with information that I think everyone should learn for its obvious relativity to todays events and occurences. Unfortunately, not many will probably read it and specially not those who really should be reading it. So if you are politically ambivalent and reading this, if you feel that the current day right wing politics from populist fronts makes sense, take your time to read or listen to this book. It takes two hours of your time I suppose and I think it’ll bring a wealth to you.
Snyder outlines 20 lessons, which he then one by one fills in with actual knowledge of last centuries misery and malpractices. How willingly did we let fascism get a hold of us in the thirties, how smoothly did the transition take place. It’s a remarkable story of how the silent majority truly enables totalitarianism, what the tools are of tyranny. Criticism killed, press silence and dissidents removed, that’s when tyranny takes hold. It’s frightening how real this is. It’s frightening how the actuality of this books strikes me.
Label: Self released / Metal Defiance Productions Band: Scáth Na Déithe Origin: Ireland
The name Scáth Na Déithe translates, if I’m correct, as ‘Shadow of the Gods’. The band consists of Cathal Hughes (Dúnmharú, Nautilus) and Stephen Todd (Astralnaut). The Irish band has found a spectacular distinct sound on their second endeavour. The duo previously planted their flag with the EP ‘The Horrors of Old’, but now unleash their full length ‘Pledge Nothing But Flesh’.
The record was recorded at the start of the harvest season, or as the band puts it ‘Meitheamh agus Lúnasa’. Though dubbed black metal, the sound of these gentleman is distinctly Irish to me. A country that seems to have an ever growing black metal scene, as goes for Scotland. In the music you find elements of its origin, In this case, the unnerving cover art may speak of darker parts of Irish history. The only other clue is the reference to the time of recording and two songtitles in Gaelic.
From the start it is clear that the two members have affinity with the slow and steady, since doom and stoner are clearly in their arsenal due to other bands they’ve been a part of. The heavy rhythm parts are accompanied by abbyssal vocals, which work well with the burbling, grimy bass. The murky, dark forest on the cover is fairly well depicted in the heavy, oppressive atmosphere this creates after intro ‘Sí Gaoithe’ on ‘Bloodless’. The pummeling drum feeds vitality into the song. A fearlessness and strength that allows the brittle tremolo guitar to soar and set apart a new atmospheric trail in the songs path.
Lyrically it appears that the band connects somehow to Primordial in the take on the self and the one sided-dialogue setting of the words. In defiance screaming at an uncaring deity. The record is filled with atmospheric parts, particularly the guitar play. A little intermission in the form of ‘Fáilte Na Marbh’ therefor fits in and offers a moment of respite for the listener. The continuous string of tremolo riffs really does its part in contrast to the sometimes almost foggy sound. At times that part just overtakes the whole sound, like on ‘the Shackled Mind’. When the torrent really unleashes, nothing can stand in the way of the thick haze of sound. The song also contains a meandering, calm guitar passage towards it’s end. Offering once more the atmospheric antics of Scáth Na Déithe in glorious beauty.
The mastering of the record took place in the Swedish Necromorbus Studio by Tore Stjerna. No surprise that the sound becomes so heavy then. With bands as Watain and Funeral Mist in his portfolio, the Swede knows the impact of extreme heaviness on music. ‘Pledge Nothing But Flesh’ is a daring entry in the current black metal world. Hopelessly atmospheric and bluntly heavy, the record is not aiming for any middle grounds. Scáth Na Déithe produced another vital stepping stone for the expanding Celtic black metal realm.
‘Tusmørke’ translates as twilight and I think it’s the perfect word for this mysterious time when the strange things happen. It’s a time of folkore and magic, which is precisely the fit for the music of folk metallers Huldre.
Soundwise the only band I could place them near to is Eluveitie. More heavily on the folk with metal more or less an electrical boost to the impact of the sound, the group has a distinct flavor and unique appeal to them with their Danish folkloristic themes and stories. The vocals really take the center spot for this act, which I always enjoy thorougly. The songs are in Danish and I haven’t found the lyrics yet, that is a shame.
There is a lot to like about the music of Huldre, but for me it mainly is the vocals of Nanna Barslev, which are everything you’d want of a mystical northern lady on vocals. Yodeling away, but also masterfully crafting eerie lines, the vocalist is central to the folky sound of the band and to its mystic aura. That and ofcourse the string instruments that capture your heart and mind instantly.
Those are most prominent on tracks like ‘Jagt’ and ‘Varulv’ in the more melodic parts. Guitars really just serve to buff up the sound when a more powerful passage needs to sweep the listener of their feet. On a rare occasion we even hear Barslev scream her lungs out, for example on ‘Hindeham’. When the band choses for a more metal-like sound, on ‘Underjordisk’ and ‘Skifting’, their sound becomes a very typical expression that I can only compare to the experience of Skyforger, Metsatöll and maybe even some Slavic groups. The hurdy-gurdy and flutes add a distinct spice to the sound, that sets the group apart.
Folk metal is not just drinking horns and shouting. Folk and metal can create a new sound, beautiful and melancholic. Huldre does exactly that on this record, using both in full force. Folk is not a decoration of the metal here, nor is it the other way around. A great record indeed.