This is the third part of the “Runaljod” trilogy and consequentially the last one. The first two parts were released in 2009 and 2013.
On release of the debut, Wardruna caused quite a stir. Their dark, ritualistic Norse music was quite unheard of and the band gave some legendary shows at equally legendary locations. The fact that their music was used in the popular “Viking” series certainly added to the popularity. “Runaljod – Gap Var Ginnunga” is indeed an impressive album.
After quite a wait, “Runaljod – Yggdrasil” was released. The album is again certainly descent, but there the sound became a bit lighter with choirs and a bit of a ‘newagey’ tone. Looking back at my reviews of the previous two releases, it looks like I prefer the second album over the first, but in hindsight I think that the debut is better, the second is good, but less so as the first and now the third is again less good. At least, that is my impression of the moment.
Like I said, the second album was far less dark and many songs came with choir-like singing, perhaps having a faint reminiscence of Arcana. This path is continued on the third album. Most tracks are soft drumming with a couple of people chanting, one song even has a children’s choir. The music certainly is not bad and most of the time not boring, but I do think it is again a step away from the level of the debut album.
But of course this is just a matter of taste. Perhaps the trilogy has a rising course for you.
Links: Wardruna, ByNorse Music
Equilibrium Music sent a few promos, two recent and this album which is a bit older. I do not think that I heard of Leidungr before. This is a bit odd since it is a project of Henry “Puissance” “Arditi” Muller together with two other blokes. Moreover, Leidungr seems to try to pick a grain of the succes of Wardruna who are fairly popular, so I wonder how I could have missed a Wardruna-like project.
Like Wardruna, Leidungr makes “Nordic ritual folk”. They even use the deep vocals, the somewhat shamanic type of drumming and the stringed instruments (violins, but also the low instrument that Wardruna uses). Leidungr is not a Wardruna clone though. Some tracks have choir samples, other samples and Leidungr has more ‘modern’ influences. Some tracks indeed remind of Wardruna, others not at all, they more fit the bill of light-toned martial/orchestral music.
The nine power songs makes a fair album, one to try if you think Wardruna makes too few albums; and of course if you just like this type of music and/or think that Wardruna is too minimalistic.
Links: Leidungr, Equilibrium Music
I did not know Wardruna before they played at the 2009 Dutch festival Incubate. Not that I saw them there, but I heard the name from that line-up. Soon after everybody seemed to know Wardruna. Goths, metalheads, heathens, the whole lot. It took Wardruna three years to come up with a follow up for “Gap Var Ginnunga “. Three years in which everybody apparently craved for this second album. It seems to have come with a bang and the craze is as big as three years ago. The sound remained the same. Shamanistic and sometimes dark, folky music with Norse lyrics. Most of the time you will hear just a steady drum, a stringed instrument, male and female chanting and sometimes low, male singing. The first time I listened to “Yggdrasil” I had the idea that the sound had become much lighter. The chanting sometimes reminds of ‘Amerindians’ and it all came to be a bit newagey. At midnight the sound seems quite alike that of the debut. Just like with the debut I can say that the sound of Wardruna is quite unique, at times pretty impressive, but not always convincing. Most of the time this is pretty good though.
Links: Wardruna, Indie Records
I know, I know, I am a prejudiced music buyer. I heard about this band with a band name and album title that are obviously pagan, but I also heard that these are (ex-)black metal musicians, so I no longer felt the need to hear “Runaljod”. Wardruna happen to play at a festival in Tilburg where also Der Blutharsch and a couple of other bands that I want to see play (but not on the same day…), so I figured I might just try what this band is all about. Wardruna is nothing like neofolk like pagan music, but has a more traditional and also a more ritual or sjamanistic sound. Perhaps a tiny little bit like the early releases of Hagalaz’ Runedance, but more sedate. There is a nice mix between traditional and electronic sounds, variety in the use of vocals (from chanting to speech), soft drumming, but also some darker experiments. “Runaljod” might not be a masterpiece, but this is actually quite a nice album.
Links: Wardruna, Fimbuljóð Productions
I saw Ianva at this years WGT, never having heard of the band. However I did not like most music too much, I liked their show. Many good musicians on stage, uncommon elements such as trumpets, several guitars, drums and male and female vocals. I mostly enjoyed the cabaretesk songs with the female vocalist. Curious about their recordings I got Ianva’s latest album with the strange cover. The music is well-done, nicely layered and of a nice atypical (for our scene) Southern sound and here and there some martial influences. Point is that listening to this album, my conclusion is the same as when I saw them live: not really my cup of tea. I do not really like the Italian vocals and the music does not really do anything for me. Again the songs with the female vocalist (which have a different style) are the better, but there is one great song called “Bora”. It is good to hear that the scene is still moving, but my musical preferences do not allways move with the scene it seems.
Links: Ianva, Antica Fonografia Il Levriero
It is funny how the scene works and I am happy to hear that something new and different pops up every now and then. However, new and different? Roma Amor has a theatrical/cabaretesk sound and there are more bands who experiment with that. Actually there even more bands who have done so in the past. Over ten years ago, the French band Eros Necropsique used it in their gothic rock sound, but did not Nick Cave also do something like that? Anyway, in a scene with “neofolk” and (martial) industrial sounds this may seem a little lightfooted, but since some Hau Ruck! releases no longer, so there is plenty of room for a band such as Roma Amor. This band sounds like it comes from some 1950’ies theatre and even though this may not be exactly my cup of tea, this is nice music to play every now and then when I want something different.
Links: Roma Amor, OEC
In recent years some more traditional sounding bands appeared in the neofolk scene. I believe that this Portugese Sangre Cavallum was discovered by Michael Moynihan and we have for example Sturmpercht with their “Alpine folk music”. Sangre Cavallum supposedly makes “barbaric folk music” which may be because of their debut album called “Barbara Carmina” (2004), but their sound could be the reason too! I must say that this is not entirely my music, but both bands sure have a unique sound and their music is nice to play once in a while. For those who never heard Sangre Cavallum, they make folk music with bagpipe, lots of drumming, flutes and deep male vocals. I don’t know if they play traditional music or write it themselves, but I don’t recognise any songs, so it is either Portugese or self-written. In any case, nice music when you are in the mood for something folky.
Links: Sangre Cavallum, Ahnstern