April 16, 2022 — The first half of April has brought tons of musical excellence by way of the dawn goddess as she dances forth under the Pink Moon. Spring-time full moons were unique events to our ancestors and in heathen cultures. Known as the “Pink Moon”, it is so named due to the blooming of wildflowers in April — hence, the name is somewhat misleading as the moon won’t actually appear pink. Read on for the rundown.
“Ranging from traditional folk sounds all the way to heavy metal, this month has granted us a truly bountiful splendor to enjoy. With new releases from artists like Vinnie Camilleri, NYTT LAND, Manntra, Herknungr and Powerwolf, to brand new albums from Dutch artist Dreyma and Sweden’s Månegarm.”
We also have been given a special treat in the form of a collaboration between Germany’s Faun and Switzerland’s Eluveitie. Read on and reap the harvest of amazing music from these phenomenal artists.
Vinnie Camilleri’s ‘Drums of War’ Is… war!
Vinnie Camilleri is no stranger to making music. He formerly toured as a guitarist for Pete Best in for The Beatles (yes, that Beatles!) and is often referred to as the world-famous band’s pre-Ringo drummer and the fifth “Beatle” member. Additionally, Camilleri was the frontman for the band DUST. Nowadays, Vinnie works as a solo artist creating music in a variety of styles. His current project involves the creation of music with a warlike, Nordic folk aesthetic clearly inspired by the Viking Age and the past decade’s enormous increase in popularity of the black metal rooted neofolk genre. This is where his newest single, ‘Drums of War’, comes in.
As the title may suggest, Vinnie’s use of drums is prominent throughout the song. While they may be the main driving force, their presence never feels overpowering. More instruments are gradually introduced, from horns and strings to shakers, until the ensemble is complete.
“The swelling sound enraptures the listener while the pounding rhythm keeps things rooted.”
The swelling sound enraptures the listener while the pounding rhythm keeps things rooted. Traditional instruments are utilized to great effect and lend an authentic feel to the Nordic battle sound Camilleri is clearly aiming for. The composition is also masterfully woven together and extremely well-produced, allowing listeners to fully appreciate each instrument’s role.
Baltic Folk: Unique collaboration sees artists Bermudu Divstūris and AUĻI Release ‘LĪGAVA’
Bermudu Divstūris and AUĻI are both musical groups hailing from Latvia, with the former being a more of a funk duo and the latter a well-established neofolk group. It may sound like an odd pairing, but their newest collaboration ‘LĪGAVA’ shows that great music can be made when you put differences aside.
“Fans might find it interesting the singing is in Latvian, an ancient Baltic language derived from Indo-European — and that Latvian is closer to Sanskrit than Hindu.”
The video itself almost immediately shows the contrast between the two artists to an almost humorous extent. However, the moment the music begins you will find it hard to look away. Benefitting from the rap-like influences of Bermudu Divstūris, ‘LĪGAVA’ has an incredibly catchy main beat that persists throughout. This will be occasionally interrupted by the traditional, folkish sounds of AUĻI when both styles are blended together. This musical stylization-combo allows both Bermudu Divstūris and AUĻI to shine while giving listeners a truly unique sound that has not been heard in neofolk circles before.
While some may be hesitant to give the Bermudu Divstūris and AUĻI collaboration a chance due to the presence of funky, rap-like beats and vocals (including ourselves) we ultimately implore you to give it a listen.
Even if you cannot understand the Latvian lyrics, you might find it interesting to know it is an ancient Baltic language derived from Indo-European — and that Latvian is closer to Sanskrit than Hindu.
There are few songs like ‘LĪGAVA’, which show that successful collaborations can truly be more than the sum of their parts. You can find the song on either the Youtube link or listen to it on the Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlists.
Herknungr Looks to the East With ‘Rite in Blood’
English neofolk artist Herknungr Alex McCree, interviewed here at the Kurgan some time ago, is well known for his heathen, Germano-Scandinavian influenced music influenced. His aim and distinct tonality have so far strived to provide fans with a rich sound akin to Viking era culture, attempting to capture the essence of Norse society and culture. Like many other folk artists, Herknungr utilizes instruments that have been played throughout history and blend them with modern production techniques.
“Herknungr’s Slavic take on his latest release ‘Rite in Blood’ is a breath of fresh of ancient aura.”
His newest single, ‘Rite in Blood’ is a step in a different direction, taking a page from Slavic culture. Its pantheon of gods has more than a few counterparts in Norse mythology, for example, the highest Slavic god Perun bears striking similarities to Thor. Herknungr’s Slavic take on his latest release ‘Rite in Blood’ is a breath of fresh of ancient aura — and a little surprising, given his previous sources of inspiration.
Herknungr has made clear that he has not released the new track owing to the war in Ukraine. However, he explains that his passion to explore something new has been building for a while and he could no longer ignore it. The primary staple of his music, the traditional instrumentation, is on full display also in this song. The main string instrument is a Ukrainian-Polish Basolia. Additionally, Slavic chants and a Teutonic (German) bagpipe are used intermittently. As with all of Herknungr’s music, an authentic atmosphere is created through the sound and the artist’s passion can be heard in every detail.
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‘Rite in Blood’ is a refreshing change of pace from Herknungr’s usual fare. Not to say his previous works were subpar, but we are excited to see any folk artist evolve and take steps in new directions, and we eagerly await whatever Herknungr has in store for us next. You can find the song on both Bandcamp and on the Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlists.
Dreyma Unveils New Album ‘Vikingatiden’
Dutch artist Dreyma has released a brand new album titled Vikingatiden (a modern Swedish word that means “the Viking Age” — that said, and with all respect, folk album title choices are becoming sadly mundane, entirely bereft of creativity, wit, and style — imagine Wardruna releasing an LP called Viking Ship, only to make an untalkative comparison.)
“Dreyma has reworked, rebalanced, and remastered all of his previous tracks for the album.”
Those with sharp eyes may realize that a number of songs from this album had been previously released. However, the artist has reworked, rebalanced, and remastered all of his previous tracks for the album. Additionally, the newly released record features four new tracks such as ‘Huginn ok Muninn’ (Odin’s pair of ravens).
The album contains many traditional instruments such as Germanic harps, animal horns, wooden and bronze lurs, bone flutes, iron rattles, and more. All of these together create a wonderful tapestry of atmosphere and show that Dreyma is able to take discordant sounds and create authentic melodies. In our opinion, the young artist deserves more recognition for his work as his sheer passion for music is evident in every composition, both new and old.
The Kurgan is certainly excited as to what the future has in store for the Dutch folk prodigy that is Dreyma. You can find the album on Bandcamp, on the Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlists, or on Dreyma’s Youtube channel.
‘Gwydion’ by FAUN and Eluveitie Fuses Metal & Folk by Way of a Welsh Trickster God Hero
The faun is a half-human and half-goat mythological creature appearing in Greek and Roman mythology. Faun the band, however, and the Swiss metal song composers Eluveitie, are both of international renown. While their styles may differ they are both rooted in traditional folk. Last week they granted us a gift in the form of a new collaborative single titled ‘Gwydion’.
“As it progresses, the song swells to climactic points before introducing Eluveitie and their metal sounds.”
The title itself bears significance as it is the name of a prominent figure in Welsh mythology. Meaning “Born of Trees”, Gwydion was a hero, magician, and trickster in Celtic folklore. Additionally, within the context of mythology, and as an apt fit for the duo’s collaboration, he was regarded as the best bard in the world.
The song itself is crafted masterfully. It begins with the familiar folk sounds Faun is known for, creating a dynamic and rich atmosphere. The traditional instrumentation creates an authentic feel while the vocals enchant listeners. As it progresses, the song swells to climactic points before introducing Eluveitie and their metal sounds. While they are only present in the latter half of the song they make their presence known and use what time they appear to leave just as much of an impact as Faun.
The heaviness Eluveitie contributes to the song creates a stark contrast to the lighter sound Faun normally brings to the table. Both groups put their passion into the track, and it is evident from the moment they join together before the song comes to a close. ‘Gwydion’ is a must-listen for fans of folk, metal, Faun, and Eluveitie. It has a little bit of something for everyone while giving us hope it will not be the last joint effort between the two.
Nytt Land Combines the Old and New with a Cover of Rammstein’s ‘Ohne Dich’
Nytt Land is a Norse-inspired folk duo from Siberia whom we interviewed here. They draw inspiration from the traditional music of the indigenous peoples of the Far East, the Icelandic sagas, and the atmosphere of 1990s Norwegian black metal. Their style fuses Mongolian throat singing and shamanic rhythms while bringing their vision of nature to reality with modern sounds.
“NYTT LAND released a cover of Rammstein’s classic ‘Ohne Dich’ as a dark folk rendition that also incorporates aspects from Metallica’s ‘One’ — the track has finally made its way to Spotify, as it was originally released in 2020.”
Back in late 2020, they released a cover video of Rammstein’s classic ‘Ohne Dich’ as a dark folk rendition that also incorporates aspects from Metallica’s ‘One’. More recently, they have now released the cover on Spotify hence the track’s inclusion in this mid-April roundup.
While most covers merely pay homage to the original, Nytt Land has created something that stands out from the original. Traditional instruments like Norway’s kravik lyre and the Mongolian morin khuur are featured prominently. Combined with the hauntingly beautiful vocals, it evokes a somber tone in contrast to the original’s more romantic style of ballad.
The dark mysticism Nytt Land creates with their sound further exemplifies the unique aspects of this cover. If you’re a fan of either Nytt Land or Rammstein’s original piece, we implore you to give the cover a listen.
Manntra Invade Your Dreams with ‘Nightmare’
Perhaps not known to many, the rather excellent Croatian folk metal band Manntra recently released ‘Nightmare’ from their 2022 album Kreatura as a standalone single. The song wastes no time getting down to business. If you are looking for metal, then Manntra is here to deliver. The group’s unique blend of metal, industrial sounds, and traditional instruments are on full display.
“Manntra’s unique blend of metal, industrial sounds, and traditional instruments are on full display.”
The vocals grow and fall in tandem with the music, and Manntra has incorporated a choir for secondary vocals. The contrast between the lightness of the choir and the heaviness of the music makes for a wonderful dynamic. As listeners bear the weight of heavy riffs and powerful percussion the vocals provide a brief respite. Almost as though one is waking from a nightmare.
If you are not careful you may find yourself bobbing your head along to the enthralling rhythms. By the end, you will be wishing there was more. You can find the single ‘Nightmare’ on the Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlists, standalone, or as part of the aforementioned album on this Spotify page.
Vansind Brings Forth New Single ‘Håbet er sort’
Danish folk metallers Vansind may be newer on the scene compared to some of the others on this list, but their inclusion is just as warranted. All of the members share their love for music through the project and wish to add something special to the Danish folk scene.
“Vansind strives to combine melodies inspired by folk music with solid metal, rumbling growls, and themes from Nordic mythology and Scandinavian history.”
The band strives to combine melodies inspired by folk music with solid metal, rumbling growls, and themes from Nordic mythology and Scandinavian history, and their most recent single ‘Håbet er sort’ achieves this to great effect.
With a title that roughly translates to “Hope is Black” you would assume this to be a heavy piece through and through. However, Vansind knows when to give listeners a break from the metal. Intermittent reprieves are present throughout the song where band member and vocalist Line Burglin takes center stage as her performance creates a layered contrast with the gruff metal vocals performed by Gustav Solberg.
Powerwolf Braves the Waves with compelling epic ‘Sainted by the Storm’
Powerwolf had a surprise in store for fans this past month: a brand new single titled ‘Sainted by the Storm’. Coming so soon off of last year’s album Call of the Wild, this unprecedented release was more than welcomed by fans. The group had this to say on the topic of the release:
“It’s rather unusual for us to follow up so soon, but we miss you all and were overwhelmed by your comments and feedback … despite the lack of live shows and the opportunity to see each other again let’s celebrate a furious metal mass together!”
If you happen to be a fan of Powerwolf’s previous works then you will no doubt like what this single has in store. Rife with powerful chords, thunderous percussion, and riveting vocals, ‘Sainted by the Storm’ puts the “power” of Powerwolf into play. The inclusion of orchestral instrumentation helps elevate the track beyond typical power metal and sets it apart from its contemporaries. The tone of the song is reminiscent of some of SABATON’s works and builds hype throughout the piece.
‘Sainted by the Storm’ is the type of song to get your blood boiling in the best way possible. You can find the track (as well as orchestral and instrumental versions) on Powerwolf’s Bandcamp page, their Spotify artist page, or on the Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlists.
‘Blóta’ — New Album from Kjell Braaten
Although released on April 1, ‘Blóta’ is no joke, containing over 40 minutes of music spread across eight tracks. Norway’s folk music mastermind Kjell Braaten explains that instrumentation and production of his new release were kept to a bare minimum to further the authenticity of the music. Combined with various ambient sounds, the compositions create an incredibly vivid and rich atmosphere. The vocals only further exemplify this idea, mixing chants with throat singing for a result that is spellbinding.
Braaten provided the following comment on the new album release;
“Blóta is not only an album; it is a Blot (ritual). It is a ritual to face your darker sides, accept them, and reshape them into a resource rather than a burden. Blóta is a raw, tribal, and honest album. This is my blót. My ritual.”
Blóta encompasses the artist’s idea that music is something that can express feelings where spoken words fail. Listening to it feels almost personal and it is clear that Braaten has poured his heart into every piece. You can find the album on his Bandcamp page or on the Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlists.
Kam Ata Surprises with New Single ‘Toy’
Kam Ata is a music group founded in 2009 and located in Istanbul, Turkey. Drawing inspiration from post-punk and darkwave genres combined with influences from the Urheimat of the Turkish tribes, namely Central and Eastern Asia, faraway instruments and Mongolian-styled ethnic vocal techniques are the core elements of their sound.
“Kam Ata’s faraway instruments and Mongolian-styled ethnic vocal techniques are the core elements of their sound.”
Their music is meant to reflect a dark and ritualistic journey. After six years of silence since their last album, 2016’s Tengri Teg, the group has released a new single by the name of ‘Toy’.
Soulful strings compliment the throat singing vocals to create a beautifully authentic tone. Kam Ata is well versed in a variety of vocal techniques such as khoomei (Tuvan throat-singing), sygyt (Tuvan whistling), and kargyraa (undertone throat-singing), they combine these with electro-acoustic elements to give their music a modern flair while remaining true to the traditional roots of their sound. ‘Toy’ proves that after all this time the group has not lost their touch. We only hope that we will not have to wait another six years to hear from them again.
You can find the track also on Kam Ata’s Spotify page.
Full Album: Månegarm — ‘Ynglingaättens Öde’
Månegarm gave us a glimpse into the heart of a wolf with their single ‘Ulvhjärta’, a teaser for the newly released LP Ynglingaättens Öde. We covered the initial single in a previous Full Moon Fortnight and that small taste has primed us for this.
“The new concept album describes the fate of one of Scandinavia’s most prominent dynasties that hailed from what is today Eastern Sweden — the Ynglings.”
This album, considered to be the successor to 2019’s Fornaldarsagor, is a complex and bountiful world of sound. The Swedish metallers in Månegarm incorporate pre-Christian lyricism based on the old Norse poem Ynglingatal, describing the fate of one of Scandinavia’s most prominent dynasties that hailed from what is today Eastern Sweden. The music lures the listener to a foregone time and breathes new life into ancient myths.
The black metal sound Månegarm is known for is prevalent throughout but also weaves in melodic interludes comprised of guitar and violin. This album shows why Månegarm is considered to be a genre-defining pioneer that continues to spearhead the world of Viking metal even after 27 years.