May 16, 2022 — This Full Moon Fortnight might not be rich as some of our previous, but do not let that dissuade you. With new music from artists ready to release new albums like Munknörr and Vévaki, to the thrashing metal of Irdorath, and the announcement of The HU’s second album, there is enough to keep you busy till next time. Besides, today marks a special occasion for those versed in lunar lore, as the eclipse is known as the (super flower) blood moon because of its spectacular, reddish appearance.
You can, of course, find these tracks on your own or go straight to our picks available in the Kurgan Compass Spotify Playlists.
Sowulo Weaves Fate with ‘Stearcost Ealra’
Fate is something we have all thought about from time to time. Whether or not our choices are truly our own is a vexing concept to be sure. However, the newest single from Sowulo suggests you take a different approach. ‘Stearcost Ealra’ is an immensely powerful song about fate and destiny, and how resisting it can cause increased suffering. On that note, Sowulo had this to say regarding the song and existence itself:
“Do not fight, do not resist your destiny, if you withstand that what already is, you will suffer a lot in your lifetime. Observe how your mind fools you to believe that you have a choice to go against the will of destiny, but that you know the truth deep down in your heart. This ‘knowing’, this inner voice, can be experienced as a feeling realization. Let it guide you, let fate come to pass.”
(Sowulo seemingly takes a Jungian approach to existence the widely respected psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Gustaf Jung came up with a similar conclusion.)
The song is, unsurprisingly, traditional and makes use of both ancient-sounding and contemporary instruments to lend an authentic feel to the piece while the vocals and background ambiance elevates the track to new heights. The composition grows as the song progresses, its strength increasing with each passing note. As the music builds, it feels as though you may be swept up and washed away, thoroughly enraptured in the tides of fate.
This song is the second single (we wrote about the first here) from Sowulo’s upcoming album Wurdiz, which is set to release on September 9 through the Wardruna-related, Norwegian label By Norse Music. Support Sowulo directly on Bandcamp or listen to ‘Stearcost Ealra’ on the Kurgan Compass™ always-up-to-date neofolk playlist on Spotify.
Munknörr’s ‘The Bridge’ Stuns and Spellbinds
Headed by the talented Damián Schneider, Munknörr is a unique folk project that blends Nordic, “Native American”, and Celtic music. The artist’s compositions often seek a pagan sound with a dark and mystic vibe, intent on drawing listeners closer to nature through primitive yet beautiful sounds.
Munknörr recently released a full album, Ancient Spirit, which we covered in a previous Fortnight, but today we will be focusing on the last track from that record. Titled ‘The Bridge’, this track shows you do not need an overly complex composition to create something that can elicit a strong.
This song is a great example of the phrase “less is more” as the minimal use of instruments makes it point toward its enchanting vocals. The also piece knows when to let its vocals rest while Munknörr’s utilization of traditional instruments helps to create a rich atmosphere and a deep natural sound.
All of these things blend together to create the kind of song you would expect to hear at a pagan ritual. Munknörr has done a phenomenal job with both ‘The Bridge’ and his newest LP Ancient Spirit as a whole, and we are excited to see what the artist has in store for us in the future.
Draugablíkk Prepares for Battle through ‘Wolfclan Rising: Berserkastrið’
Draugablíkk is a “Hunno-Gothic” neofolk band that blends Scandinavian tones and mythology with heathen musical traditions and eastern influences. Performing music inspired by history, folklore, and the Vedas (and obviously, of course, the Eddas), unlike many of its contemporaries, the band generally seems focused on the eras that led up to the Viking Age, like the Migration Period.
Their newest single, ‘Wolfclan Rising: Berserkastrið’ is actually an improved rework. The original comes from the group’s two-year-old debut album NÍU: Blood of the Amali. This newly enhanced and recut release features additional ancient instrumentation alongside deep, dark male vocals, and witchy female vocals rooted in ancient ”magical” seiðr-song mentioned in the Norse literature and myths.
The band’s sound definitely falls under the banner of neofolk, but there is an almost oppressive heaviness throughout the piece that was done intentionally. Draugablíkk has taken an interesting stance on the genre as a whole, explaining:
“Draugablíkk does not believe neofolk, whether Norse or otherwise, is meant to always applaud nature or this or that mountain or animal, or that it should strive to sound like melancholic honey. We are trying to capture a vibe of authenticity we think is important.”
Trying to capture the essence of a fierce battle through music is no small feat, but Draugablíkk has managed to encapsulate the raw and chaotic nature of combat through this song. Deep growling vocals mix with driving percussive elements to give the track a sense of urgency, almost like racing into battle.
Danish folk phenomenon Fuimadane Returns with Aptly Titled ‘I’m Back MotherF***ers’
Fuimadane is a neofolk, oriental, and folktronica-inspired project hailing from Denmark. It focuses on expressing an atmosphere with a distinct, sometimes Viking-like, Scandinavian vibe.
The track mentioned above is one of four recently released songs to promote the then-upcoming Baráttan við Myrkrið (Fight Against Darkness) album. We briefly covered the reveal in a previous Fortnight, but now we will take a look at this release standalone.
If the title was any indication, subtlety is not the strong suit of this track. This does not mean it is bad by any stretch of the imagination, only different. While some aspects of the song stick out when viewed/listened to under the lens of neofolk, the composition as a whole retains the core essence of modern folk music. Numerous instruments are utilized to great effect in creating an ethnic sound, and Fuimadane also has some unconventional tricks up his sleeve.
Elements of the song and mixing steer the piece closer toward folktronica as opposed to neofolk proper. However, this is more so due to the artist’s unique style rather than anything else. While the title and description may be offputting to fans of neofolk who prefer authenticity and historical contexts.
We suggest you give Fuimadane’s latest a listen — you may be surprised at what you hear. Furthermore, the album that this track was meant to promote recently came out as a full release. So if this is not your style you can always give the other songs a shot.
Vévaki Teases New Album with ‘Jötnablót’
Vévaki is an Icelandic neofolk band inspired by Scandinavian and related mythologies and folklore. Drawing inspiration from the natural world and through the scope of animism, the group seeks to breathe light and sound into ancient stories and ideas. In October last year, Kurgan Compass™ interviewed Will Hunter who heads up Vévaki.
Recently, the band signed with the independent, French-American record label Season of Mist owing to its respect for artistic freedom and encouragement for artists to be themselves. To celebrate the signing, Vévaki elected to release a new single, ‘Jötnablót’, which also happens to be a song from their upcoming second album Fórnspeki.
This song is a surprising length, clocking in at approximately nine minutes. Fitting for a track with a title that roughly translates to “Sacrifice/Ritual/Celebration of the Giants”, in the context of the jötnar of Norse myth. The atmospheric ambiance is blended with traditional instrumentation to create a vivid tapestry of sounds.
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The vocals have a haunting, almost ethereal feel for a good portion of the duration and then excellently pivot partway through; switching to more guttural vocals akin to throat singing along with stronger percussion, before eventually returning to a softer tone. This stark contrast keeps the sound dynamic and interesting while preventing it from getting repetitive
While Vévaki may not have as many albums under their belt when compared to other neofolk contemporaries, they have a rich sound that is just begging to be explored. We are happy to hear of their signing to Season of Mist and look forward to their full-lengther Fórnspeki, slated to release later in the fall of 2022.
You can listen to ‘Jötnablót’ on the Kurgan Compass™ neofolk playlist, the Season of Mist Youtube channel, and on any of the popular music services like Spotify and Apple Music.
The HU Lifts spirits with ‘This Is Mongol’
The HU is a Mongolian folk-rock metal band formed in 2016 that utilizes traditional Mongolian instrumentation and relies heavily on throat singing in its songs.
The group classifies their unique style as “hunnu rock”, named after an ancient “empire” that pre-dates the Mongols and Turks in the Far East — presumably, the Huns who once invaded Europe, which the band Draugablíkk (mentioned above) are partially focused on as well.
The origin, location, and events of the Huns is a matter historians have been unable to agree upon for centuries, and intriguingly, Huns are mentioned in Norse literature like the Eddas and Gesta Danorum, as well as in many Chinese sources.
In other news, The HU recently announced a second album is in the works and set to release this summer. As a teaser of what is to come, the group has released the single ‘This Is Mongol’.
Clearly, The HU has returned in full force for ‘This is Mongol’. The driving rhythm will rope you in and keep you hooked as the artist keeps to their signature style and masterfully blends traditional instrumentation with modern rock/metal themes.
Featuring vocal performances that leave nothing to be desired, this song leaves no doubts that The HU are the undisputed masters of what they call “hunnu rock”. In a statement made regarding the single, the intent behind the song was explained:
“In these uncertain times, I hope we are bringing positivity, empowerment, and strength to fight for better days.”
While no official date has been set for The HU’s second album, and if this single is any indication, we can expect something truly spectacular from it.
You can find the new song on the usual streaming services as well as The HU’s YouTube channel. In addition, you can listen now to it on the Kurgan Compass™ ‘Heavy Feely Folk’ Spotify playlist.
Irdorath Shows Their Reforged Metal through ‘Bald ersäuft die Menschenbrut’
Initially formed in 2005, Irdorath is an Austrian thrash/black metal band that has produced five albums with the last being 2019’s The Final Sin. As a special treat, and to celebrate over 15 years of making music, the group has elected to re-record their first album Götterdämmerung (a German translation of the Norse myth of Ragnarök.)
The remade album, titled Götterdämmerung MMXXII, will release May 20 through Artgates Records.
As a preview of what to expect from the revamped record, Irdorath recently released the second single from the upcoming album titled ‘Bald ersäuft die Menschenbrut’.
If you were wondering where the metal was in this Full Moon Fortnight, then look no further. This track’s powerful percussive drive will rattle bones while the heavy riffs will shock the senses. The thrash/black metal influences are rife throughout the piece, and you will find it hard to not get drawn into the brutal beat.
It is clear that Irdorath has a passion to see their remastered LP come to fruition and that it is a major upgrade in terms of quality and sound. The band has put all of their combined experience and learned a few new tricks that will bring their first album properly into the modern era.
You can find the single on Irdorath where music plays — and on the Kurgan Compass™ ‘Heavy Feely Folk’ Spotify playlist. Strangely, the single is not available on Bandcamp yet, but the expectation is that it will release there alongside the rest of the album on May 20.
Herknungr Takes a Voyage with ‘Skipför’
England’s Herknungr has once again given us a taste of his ambient folk music. His new single, titled ‘Skipför’, is a piece centered around a seabound journey.
As with many of Herknungr’s earlier works, the song is littered with ambient sounds that establish a strong, genuine “Viking mood” that is rich in atmosphere and tone. The artist’s utilization of Scandinavian instruments like the tagelharpa keeps the track firmly rooted in the past.
The song has an almost cyclical composition, repeating key sections throughout that create an interesting rhythm when paired with ambient ocean noises. The repetition does not hinder the music though, instead, it helps reinforce the theme of a sea voyage as the repeated segments coincide with crashing waves; almost like the rocking of a boat amidst the bulging sea.
While the track is not overly complex, it takes what it has and uses it brilliantly to form a cohesive tone.
By the Spirits Covers Crooked Mouth through ‘Arms of the Mountain’
By the Spirits is a folk project hailing from the ancient region “Lower Silesia” in Poland. The artist draws inspiration from nature, death, and spirituality. As we all know, they are not the only ones to draw inspiration from such sources, and back in 2019 By the Spirits met with fellow artist Crooked Mouth in Wrocław and hiked the Silesian heartland mountain Ślęża.
A bond grew through their shared experience and they decided to cover each other’s songs. By the Spirits chose Crooked Mouth’s ‘Arms of the Mountain’ and released the cover only a short while ago.
The tone of the cover is hauntingly beautiful. Ethereal vocals are the backbone of the cover, while the acoustic guitar creates a somber rhythm throughout. The other instruments used in the piece help set the tone and balance out the composition.
While the composition is not overly complex, the simplicity shines through to highlight the experience that inspired the artist to make this cover, and one cannot deny that By the Spirits has made something great to commemorate the mountain hike with Crooked Mouth.
Unfortunately, there is no music video available at the time of writing, and the only place we found the song was on By the Spirits’ Bandcamp page. Hopefully, the track will get a wider release on Spotify, Deezer, and all the others soon.