Tag Archives: denmark

Underground Sounds: Parzival – Urheimat Neugeburt

Label: Mighty Music
Band: Parzival
Origin: Denmark

Parzival can be considered the Danish answer to Laibach, but their inspiration comes from the distant past. Their music is truly Wagnerian, influenced by Gregorian chants and mysticism in a way no other act really ever emulated. Their release ‘Urheimat Neugeburt’ is a piece of art if ever there was any in my opinion.

The group centers around Dimitrij Bablevskij, a musician of Russian origin, who has a booming voice that is the obvious link to the Slovenian avant-garde act mentioned afore. Musically the group takes various topics but always sounds surprising, bombastic and completely overwhelming. Something very special if I may say so, particularly since the band here covers their own original album Urheimat.

The booming sound I remember from their record Blut Und Jordan evaporates from my expectations soon. Sure, the low, sonorous voice is there, but the music seems very minimal, restrained and cut back to nothing more than needed for a visceral effect of marching sounds and a strong, emotional swelling that you get with the national anthem (or that one song that stirs your feelings of pride). It’s the sound that makes you want to puff out your chest, yet the vocals can also bring you down to a brooding, pressing state.

A noteworthy element to emphasize is an operatic quality. On ‘Peitsche und Zuckerbrot’, soaring vocals set the song in an almost Therion-like atmosphere, with the slow progression only further supporting the grandiose impact of the tune. ‘Lord of the Sea’ is the new tune on this record, which instantly stands out due to the melancholic opening sequence and layered sound. More dense and richer than the other material, it is a stand-out track on the record. On ‘Navida Purana’, we are even treated to some bright riff material, that contrasts with the languid, ritualistic chanting with crisp and bright notes. Parzival definitely understands the value of contrast and various textures, which makes this such an immersive, powerful record.

With an atmosphere that switches between the Wagnerian 19th century grandeur and the far eastern mysticism, Parzival conveys a unique feeling. At times a mild playfulness emerges, but overall this is serious music, more suitable for the grand theatres of yore. Immerse yourself, enjoy.

 

Underground Sound: Slaegt – Domus Mysterium

Label: Ván Records
Band: Slaegt
Origin: Denmark

German elegance meets Northern Darkness

And with some great, folkish riffs you’re immediately captured by these Danes. Slaegt caught some mild controversy on social media with their peculiar cover design. Any PR is good PR, right? Funnily enough, the symbol is a combination of a 4 times the same symbol from Astrid Lindgren’s book ‘Brothers Lionheart’. It’s the symbol of the tyrant Tengil and the band has made it their own. The group feels a connection to the story, the opposing of said tyrant. Hence the symbol.

For the Danish group, this is their second full length after 2015’s ‘Ildsvanger’. The sound of the band has clearly shifted from the black metal sound to a blend with a heavy metal flavor. Unlike bands such as Rebel Wizard, the sound of Slaegt moves in a much more regal direction. It is as if their music connects the epic German sound with Northern black metal on this record.

The guitarwork is often very clean, so you can hear how the riffs weave the pattern of some kick ass songs. Slaegt sounds vital, urgent and surprisingly catchy at times. Sure, the vocals are of the barked, ferocious sort, but you get both worlds here. At times the band sounds pretty much like a black metal band, with the thick waves of atmospheric minor tones. Those lingering bits of darkness, tremolo guitar play and drum battery you hear for example on ‘Egovore’. Still the mix is slightly different, which leaves  a lot of space for some melodic passages.

I just have to highlight some songs for you, because those illuminate the splendid formula of these Danish musicians best. ‘The Tower’ is definitely one of their coolest songs; weeping guitars, a foreboding bit of play to rival Metallica and Opeth. There’s nothing showy about it though, no weird complexities. Just great metal music.

On ‘Burning Feathers’ we have an omnious piano intermezzo. It holds up the atmosphere, without trying too hard. Maybe my favorite track is the final one (the title track). The galloping rhythm, the fierce singing and the oh so catchy guitar lines. And it lasts almost 14 minutes. The speed dwindles a bit later in the song, for some of those screaming guitar parts, that remind you of classic heavy metal. This album is just a joy to listen to really.

Underground Sounds: Huldre – Tusmørke

Band: Huldre
Origin: Denmark
Label: Gateway Music

‘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.