February 1, 2022 — We are already a month into the new year and artists slinging neofolk and metal have already proven they aim to give their all in the current sun orbit. The previous ‘Fullmoon Fortnight’ was brimming with great songs, and we are delighted to report the new moon is shining just as brightly with new releases by Wardruna, Bjarla, Dreyma, Faun, and more.
Today is the new moon in the Northern hemisphere of Fennoscandia. Hence, it was inevitable that notable artists would return with intriguing musical journeys across long-forgotten lands while a newcomer to the neofolk scene lands an EP you will not want to skip.
Whether fans prefer the soft and shamanic sounds of neofolk or the adrenaline-packed, harder tones of death or folk metal, they are not going to be disappointed. On this new moon, the ‘Fullmoon Fortnight’ starts off with a twinkling on the horizon as Sun and Moon Dance returns with a grounded, folksy trek through a winter wonderland.
As always, you can listen to the best tracks on the Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlist.
Enjoy Freshly Fallen Snow with Soothing, Grounded Track from Sun and Moon Dance
For when you need a crisp, slow-paced song to get you through the more trying parts of your day, count on Sun and Moon Dance’s ‘Neath a Blanket of White’. As the name suggests, the soothing track was inspired by a refreshing walk amongst freshly fallen snow — and that serene setting comes through perfectly through the gently plucked strings.
‘Neath a Blanket of White’ wants nothing more than to be a relaxing track inspired by biting winter air and the calm washing over the sea of white. Close your eyes, and you can almost see the sun sparkling on the packed crystals layering the ground. The song is an easy track to lose time to as listeners are whisked away to a wintry wonderland of seemingly magical proportions.
Sun and Moon Dance has made ‘Neath a Blanket of White’ available exclusively on its Bandcamp page.
New Darkfolk Band Virrentakoja Drops Debut EP
We are always happy to welcome newcomers to the neofolk scene, especially those with a ritualistic, genuine element. Virrentakoja recently dropped its debut EP dubbed Virrentakoja which is a collection of five tracks, each serving a unique purpose. As the project’s Bandcamp page explains, each song features ancient, real spells from the area of Karelia in eastern Finland, rune songs used to gain the might and favor of the Old Gods, raise nature spirits, and banish dark and deadly nightmares.
There is something rather ominous about the songs ‘Virrentaonta’, ‘Ukonvoima’, and ‘Hiwuxista Hiijen Hirven’, whereas the EP’s remaining two tracks, ‘Tuonen Vaen Nostatus’ and ‘Painajaisen Sanat’ sound softer and more inviting. Touches of dark folk course through the album, and it sounds like the band has taken inspiration from Draugablíkk’s Verjaseiðr album from 2020 which we reviewed here, although Virrentakoja certainly elevates their own sound to an unforgettably moody listening experience.
Virrentakoja is produced and distributed by Savo-Karelian Productions, a Finnish studio-turned-label that has also worked with artists like SKAL, Calben, Gothrog, and Ubbe & Visbur.
Wardruna Releases New ‘Solringen’ Music Video From 2021’s ‘White Raven’ Digital Live Show
In March of 2021, Norwegian neofolk constellation Wardruna took advantage of the power of the Internet to treat fans to a live stream of their best music, a digital-first we reviewed here. Among the string of well-received tracks was ‘Solringen’, for which the band recently created a brand new music video ahead of the upcoming “audio-visual” release of the full live stream show Kvitravn — First Flight of the White Raven, which is penned in for April 22.
The ‘Solringen’ video is simple enough and matches the energy of the track, a straightforward blend of chanting vocals, drums, and strings. Though much of the song is subdued, it ends on a strong note that shows the large and impressive range of Wardruna’s iconic sound.
Kvitravn — First Flight of the White Raven is being released through Sony Music, Columbia Germany, Music for Nations, and ByNorse Music in Bergen, Norway. It is currently available for pre-order on Wardruna’s website in a limited silver 2LB set (exclusive to Germany), a limited wooden boxset, a black 2LP, a double CD, and finally — a clear or royal blue 2LP limited release for the United States.
Ereb Altor Drops New Metal Album ‘Vargtimman’
Now that we have worked our way through the more subdued sounds of neofolk, it is time to unleash the power of Swedish folk and death metal. Norse legends course through the latest eight-track album from Ereb Altor with lyrics sung in Swedish. Right off the bat, ‘I Have the Sky’ is a ballad of epic proportions, and if you play it only once, you are surely going to be missing out on what makes it so great.
The song ‘Vargtimman turns the album (with the same name) on its head with the heavy-metal sound fans expect. It carries over into ‘Rise of the Destroyer’ and ‘Den Dighra Doden’ (in reference to the Black Plague), giving listeners something to return to for that unmistakable metal sound.
Vargtimman is a surprising album that offers a range of tracks that goes all out metal at times but occasionally also tones things down a bit for a dark and melancholic yet hauntingly beautiful sound.
Bjarla Releases New 5-Track EP Inspired by Scandinavian Herding Calls
In ancient Scandinavia, for several thousand years (and even in certain areas to this day) female chants known as kulning echoed across the landscapes, mountainous terrain, deep valleys, and flat plains of what was to become Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and likely also Finland. The hypnotic kulning-sounds were a tool used to herd and communicate with cattle — in the Nordic tradition, the livestock primarily consisted of cows and other flock animals grazing the sparse and often rugged lands of ancient Fennoscandia.
The Scandinavian herding tradition is emulated in Bjarla’s newly released 5-track EP, Kulning. As you listen to each of the five songs, you can envision the high-pitched vocals coursing through the fresh air in bygone times, calling home livestock from the pastures they grazed.
As soothing as each track on Kulning is, it is also said these herding calls protected the cows and goats from predators. It would be a surprise if Bjarla’s beautiful and harmonic vocals deterred anything, though, and did not bring an entire mountain of wildlife down.
The tradition lives on today through Bjarla’s five Scandinavian-inspired tracks, ‘Kulning Ett’, ‘Kulning tva’, ‘Kulning Tre’, ‘Kulning Fyra’, and ‘Kulning Fem’.
Kurgan Compass™ fans might be intrigued that the rune Fehu, which is the first rune of the “runic alphabet” known as the Futhark, means livestock (but not only.) The Fehu rune is directly related to wooden shelters built in the ancient Nordic lands so cows, sheep, goats, and other livestock could seek shelter from the elements. These kulning chants were sung by women in the Scandinavian tradition, whereas a similar herding culture in the European Alps instead have male herders singing to herd their cattle. For authentic, Scandinavian kulning, listeners may want to check out Jonna Jinton’s kulning on YouTube which has 11 million views and counting.
New Dreyma Single ‘Battle of Kings’ Out
It is time to take up arms and storm the battlefield! At least, that is exactly what it feels we should do when listening to Dutch neofolk artist Dreyma’s new single ‘Battle of Kings’. The aptly titled track blends ritualistic war drums, deep throat singing, and shamanic chanting to give the allusion of a deadly warband marching toward their enemies.
Dreyma pulled inspiration from Einar Selvik, who worked on multiple ‘Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla’ soundtracks like Wrath of the Druids which we reviewed here, ‘Battle of Kings’ does often sound like a love letter to Selvik’s unforgettable work, yet Dreyma reigns in the inspiration to craft a song that remains unique and powerful.
The instruments used to bring ‘Battle of Kings’ to life seem influenced by ancient war parties, as Dreyma employed an iron jaw harp, a bone flute, frame drums, a wooden lur, lyre, and tagelharpa. We would not be surprised if ‘Battle of Kings’ ended up in an indie real-time strategy game set in a time when Viking kings ruled.
Faun Calls Upon a Norse God with ‘Baldur’
Faun’s latest track ‘Baldur’ starts off with a highly distinctive sound that quickly builds into a stunning cacophony of instruments. There is also a chaotic energy to ‘Baldur’ that is both catchy and uplifting, so it’s definitely a song to throw on when you need a spark of vitality.
Once ‘Baldur’ gets going, it never lets up. The use of string and wind instruments moves the song along at a steady and fast pace and does sound like a good fit for the song’s namesake, the Æsir God of Light. Heck, the composition is even more fitting if you are going off the ‘God of War’ interpretation of the Norse deity Baldur, son of Odin and Frigg.
According to Faun, the lyrics represent a Norse rune poem that speaks to the sun, sanctuary, and holy judgment, all of which aptly allude to Baldur.
Týr Goes Live with ‘By the Sword in My Hand’
Faroese folk metallers Týr invites listeners into their studio with ‘By the Sword in My Hand’, a live production that revisits one of the band’s favorite tracks. Whether you are listening to the original track from 12 years ago, the live collaboration version by the Faroe Islands Symphony Orchestra, or listening to this new live-to-digital production of ‘By the Sword in My Hand’, rest assured you will not be disappointed.
Týr’s revisit of the classic track captures the epic feel of the original, adding a slightly modern flair that helps to refresh the decade-old song, and in doing so improves it noticeably. The Kurgan will be returning time and time again to the powerful vocals and electrifying guitar of the Faroese band’s latest release.