March 2, 2022 — The full moon has given us plenty to listen to across the neofolk and metal genres. The early March moon has brought a variety of songs ranging from a remake almost a decade in the making, to new singles from debut albums, thus we are glad to let you know this ‘Full Moon Fortnight’ has a little something for everyone. Robert Kohls reports of Týr, Forndom, Walk Kauz, Herknungr, and more.
Kurgan Compass is pleased to report about bewitching melodies and hypnotic harmonies, most if not all encompassed by traditional folk sounds with the intent of telling intriguing stories. Whether it be the process by which one artist took to remake an old classic, the personal journey to protect oneself from the anger of others, or even the retelling of an ancient seafarer saga, plenty of tales are being told here.
For those who prefer high-octane music, newly released material will satisfy as metal tracks from the likes of Bloodywood, Týr, and Aktarum alongside a new video by Sabaton have been made available. Regardless of preference, our biweekly roundup on folk and metal which is known as ‘Full Moon Fortnight’ provides the best new standout releases for genre fans to appreciate.
As per usual, the best standout tracks have been added to the Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlists.
Forndom Celebrates a Decade of Making Music with ‘Och med vinden ack de gunga’
Forndom is a Swedish neofolk project by Ludvig Swärd, a successful artist who can be considered one of few alongside Norway’s Wardruna to be a progenitor of the increasingly popular modern take on Nordic folk, a genre that was catapulted into the mainstream by the television series Vikings back in 2013.
Forndom has been creating music for many years, with 2022 marking the artist’s tenth anniversary. To celebrate the occasion, Swärd has reworked a track from his 2016 record Dauðra dura. Although the song ‘Jag vet ett tempel stå’ (“I know a temple somewhere stands”) from the aforementioned album was originally intended to have vocals, Forndom made the album version an instrumental track.
As the years went by, Swärd found himself longing to return to the song, citing a feeling it was not truly finished. In the past year, his vision came to fruition, and he re-recorded the song as he had envisioned it from the outset, and has given the track a new life and title as ‘Och med vinden ack de gunga’. Now, this is not only a simple remake with new vocals, as the updated track features more musical depth as a result of analog instruments replacing the original’s synthesized composition.
While ‘Och med vinden ack de gunga’ is just as captivating as ‘Jag vet ett tempel stå’, Forndom has managed to elevate an already amazing song to new heights (and depths).
Spellbinding: Nanna Barslev’s ‘Mod Vrede’
Nanna Barslev has released a new single titled ‘Mod Vrede’, translated to English it means “Courage, Anger”. This marks the second single from her upcoming debut solo album Lysbærer, scheduled to release on March 18. ‘Mod Vrede’ will enthrall fans with its traditional sounds and instrumentation while the enchanting vocals will keep listeners on edge till the end. Barslev also released a video to coincide with the new single, providing visuals for the bewitching music.
The artist has explained the meaning behind the song’s name. The lyrical words “Mod Vrede” are meant as a protective chant to shield oneself from the anger of others. Barslev elaborates:
“I wanted to express the feeling of grounding and protection, like standing in a storm and not letting other energies shake you.”
To that end, she has succeeded. The vocals provide a sense of empowerment, like a grand shield to protect oneself from the frustration and anger others may bring them. Keep an eye out for Nanna Barslev’s upcoming album Lysbærer, releasing March 18 with vinyl records shipping in May.
Walk Kauz Returns With Seafaring Tale ‘Far Vel’
German folk band Walk Kauz has almost a decade of making music to look back on with pride. They strive to create music that encapsulates ancient magic, life and death, and the power of nature. Hypnotic melodies invite listeners to dance and dream, with the energies alternating between wild and serene. The band combines their own compositions which are influenced by European folk and performed using both historical and modern instruments.
Through their music, Walk Kauz seeks to find connections to old sagas and legends, and their newest single “Far Vel” (“farewell”) is no different.
The song tells the tale of a seafarer bidding farewell to his love, who has to wait alone on the shore for his return. She wishes him luck and that he may think of her, hoping that one day they will meet again. The music may start in a straightforward manner, but when the vocals kick in the song becomes almost impossible not to listen to.
Wald Kauz’s latest release is one of those rare pieces of music that has the capacity to send a shiver down your spine. Through its delicately interwoven harmonies and stellar vocal performances, it tells a somber story filled with loss and longing.
Herknungr Releases New Album ‘Dugr’
Herknungr, whom Kurgan Compass interviewed here, aims to explore ancient culture, especially Norse aspects. The project was formed over a love of ambient, ritual, and folk music. The intent behind the music is to provide a rich sound primarily inspired by Viking culture.
To create an authentic sound of the ancient, Nordic zeitgeist, the track ‘Atgørvi’ (meaning abilities/talent) from Herknungr’s new album Dugr achieves this objective — in spectacular fashion.
While the song is not overly complex, it uses what it has to great effect. The historically accurate instruments lend an authentic feel, while the vocals evoke an ethereal yet ancient connection. Ambient sounds are also sprinkled throughout, creating a distinct atmosphere that draws the listener in. Ultimately, ‘Atgørvi’ is a prime example of quality over quantity.
Norway’s Rúnahild Explores Ancestral Pain Through New Neofolk Single ‘Wounded Healer’
Rúnahild is a Nordic neofolk artist hailing from the beautiful mountains of western Norway. She is a singer, musician, and composer whose creations are characterized by earthly rhythms and ethereal melodies empowered by heartfelt female singing at their core. Unsurprisingly, Rúnahild’s free-spirited lifestyle close to nature is an inseparable part of her artistic expression. She composes primarily on old folk instruments, but also utilizes keyboard to create a meditative atmosphere. According to the artist, her work mirrors her own healing journey and spiritual path.
Rúnahild’s vocal technique is without a doubt unique, taking inspiration from Sami joik, throat singing, and the Scandinavian cattle-herding technique known as kulning. She treats her voice more like an instrument than anything else, as can be heard in ‘Wounded Healer’.
The song tells the story of a healer plagued by pain, wounds, and scars from deep within. This deep pain reverberates through their ancestors, and as the healer treats the wounds of remarkable lineage.
Bloodywood Delivers Indian Folk By Way Of Adrenaline-Charged Debut Album ‘Rakshak’
Bloodywood is an Indian metal band from New Delhi with a sound that fuses Indian folk instruments with metal. Their music incorporates Hindi/Punjabi choruses, rap verses, and ethnic instrumentation to create a fresh and unique folk metal sound. The band has been around since 2016, but it was only recently they released their first record, Rakshak. For now, we will be putting a spotlight on the album track “Zanjeero Se”.
The song combines all of the aforementioned aspects to great effect. Intense energy can be felt throughout, thanks in part to the powerful percussion and driving guitar rhythms. However, there are lulls in this storm of a song. Occasionally things will mellow out for a brief period as the track takes a detour towards a more folksy sound before rocketing right back to metal. This track is a great example of Bloodywood’s unique sound and goes to show that they deserve more international recognition.
Bloodywood is a band to keep an eye on, and hopefully, there will be more to come in the near future. Fans should check out the band’s Bandcamp page here.
Týr Releases Refreshed Live Version of Decade-Old Hit Track ‘Hold the Heathen Hammer High’
Faroese folk metal band Týr has released a live performance of the hit single ‘Hold the Heathen Hammer High’. While the song was first released in 2009, a little more than a decade ago, its momentum and popularity refuse to wane., hence the refresh.
Live versions of popular songs are not for everyone, but it is safe to say this outing sits high up in the folk metal pantheon. Týr’s live performance is jam-packed with energy, and while it does not drastically change the original song, it does show noticeable musical growth for the band.
Those who watch the video will note certain musical elements that elevate an already impressive performance, and it is not every group that is able to wrangle together a full orchestral accompaniment. But Týr is not like other groups — from strings to brass, and even a stainless steel sink, no expense was spared in delivering an amazing full-on metal-orchestral soundscape.
The phenomenally refreshed live recording of ‘Hold the Heathen Hammer High’ is a close contender of the also-excellent original. Both live versions are available on Týr’s Spotify and Bandcamp artist pages.
‘TrollVengers’ — New Single From Aktarum
Aktarum is a Belgian folk metal band whose lyrics and themes incorporate a vast array of fantasy elements, the most prominent of which are trolls with the band describing their genre as “Troll Metal”.
The band tells stories through their folksy metal sound that combines heavy riffs and epic melodies. The band’s newest single “TrollVengers” is the first to be released from their upcoming album of the same name, penned in for release March 18.
The song tells the story of a group of trolls, aptly called the TrollVengers, representing the beginning of their journey in finding the “Infinity Axe”. The rest of the album is reserved to tell the complete story of the journey that will culminate and end as the TrollVengers defeat “the Evil One”.
The full album will offer extreme drums, heavy yet clean vocals, sharpened guitars, groovy bass, and magical synth orchestrations. Fans of fantasy, folk metal, and a certain blockbuster movie franchise should give “TrollVengers” a listen while waiting for the upcoming album.
Extended Tracks by Kalandra from ‘Kingdom Two Crowns: Norse Lands’ Soundtrack
A few months ago we reviewed Kingdom Two Crowns: Norse Lands and its soundtrack. Composed by Norwegian electro-folk band Kalandra, the mesmerizing soundtrack creates a rich atmosphere that beautifully blends enchanting melodies and traditional sounds. Even if the game does not sound like it would be up your alley, we implore you to check out the soundtrack.
The soundtrack is absolutely enthralling and while we wished the tunes were longer, it seems our wish has been granted as Kalandra and label ByNorse Music have recently teamed up to create a full, extended soundtrack.
Currently, the only track made available is ‘Helheim’. However, that song is one of the flagships of the entire soundtrack (in my opinion) and truly speaks to the quality and attention to detail Kalandra has incorporated into the music.
Along with brand new mixes, Kalandra has also collaborated with local Norwegian Folk musicians such as John Stenersen and Kenneth Lien, using old instruments like Hurdy-Gurdy, Nyckelharpa, and Moraharpa. The full extended album is set to release on June 24th, 2022.
Sabaton’s ‘Hearts of Iron’ Gets Lyric Video
Sneaking onto this list at the last moment is a special surprise from Swedish metallers Sabaton. The group has recently begun releasing numerous lyric videos from their vast catalog of songs. ‘Hearts of Iron’ is the newest to get the animated text treatment, and comes from the 2014 album Heroes.
The new video combines striking imagery along with powerful lyrics successfully creating a new, fresh vibe for the nigh-on classic Sabaton song.