March 16, 2022 — In the depths of dark nights, we can always rely on turning to the moon for bathing in the eerie light that gives life to the darkest corners of the earth. The new moon has graced us with a hoard of new, impending releases from the ever-expanding worlds of neofolk and metal. Read on as James Paterson details the latest from Wardruna, Kjell Braaten, Sun and Moon Dance, Sabaton, and more.

The last two weeks saw a fair share of folk and metal events, with today’s new moon offering up news like Wardruna dropping their First Flight of the White Raven remaster of the song ‘Skugge’ which is now available on all streaming platforms. Other happenings include a new single from Norway’s neofolkist Kjell Braaten, newcomer Pawl D. Beats who teased his upcoming full-length debut record with the straightforwardly titled ‘Viking Music’ single, new releases from A Tergo Lupi, Herknungr, and Sun & Moon Dance.

“In the depths of dark nights, we can always rely on turning to the moon for bathing in the eerie light that gives life to the darkest corners of the earth.”

Also, Swedish folk musician on the rise Nattramn [interviewed here] delivered a new EP by the name of ‘Sonatorrek’, while AC Valhalla composers Stephanie Economou [interviewed here] and Wardruna’s Einar Selvik shared new material for the never-ending string of DLC expansions of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla [reviewed here].

On the metal side of things, Swedish stalwarts Sabaton debuted a new single to accompany their long-planned War to End All Wars album that was released on March 4, and polish folk-metallers Morhana teased an upcoming LP Eternal War with the single ‘Queen of Torment’. The new moon also saw Danish Death metallers Vanir releasing their new album Sagas. Rounding up the folk metal report, Russia’s Alkonost teamed up with Finland’s Mathias Lillmåns of Finntroll fame for a new single dubbed ‘Years of Prophecy’.

As ever, you can find our favorite tracks added to the Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlists.

Wardruna’s ‘Skugge’ Takes Flight

Norwegian neofolk-progenitors Wardruna’s refurbished live-stream version of ‘Skugge’ (“shadow”) from their first-of-a-kind show First Flight of the White Raven [reviewed here] has finally reached audio streaming platforms, shortly after appearing in video format as a stripped-down, ambient solo performance. ‘Skugge’ is a powerful cinematic blend of chiaroscuro amid excellently shot and color graded locations, produced in Norway by Ragnarök Film with an intimate, emotive focus on Wardruna’s frontman Einar Selvik’s remarkable voice.

The ‘Skugge’ music video pairs well with the song ‘Solringen’, both tracks soaring in motion whilst driven by the iconic, layered sound that makes Wardruna such a distinctive force in the wider neofolk scene.

Both ‘Skugge’ and ‘Solringen’ are sonorous tracks from the upcoming First Flight of the White Raven 2 CD album and Box Set which can be ordered from the Wardruna shop here, both expected to ship April 22. Available for pre-order now, the White Raven double album comes a year after the digital release of the band’s acclaimed “live-in-the-studio” virtual performance stream of the same name.

Also, a special setlist including new songs from Wardruna’s Kvitravn album and select fan-favorite tracks from the band’s back catalog will also be featured on the new release. The full range of physical releases can be found in the Napalm Records Webstore.

Alkonost and Finntroll’s Mathias Lillmåns Rework ‘Years Of Prophecy’

Combining death metal screams with folk metal melodies, Russia’s Alkonost has released a brand new version of their classic single, ‘Years of Prophecy’. Recorded in collaboration with Finntroll vocalist – Mathias Lillmåns to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the song’s original creation.

Released ahead of an upcoming anniversary rerelease of 2000’s Songs of the Eternal Oak, the new version of ‘Years of Prophecy’ as well as the rest of the album’s original track listing were all written in the Autumn of 1997, with the upcoming re-release framed as a 25th-anniversary celebration. In a post on Facebook, Alkonost explained how the song is a tale about the search for meaning

“This song opens the first Alkonost album, Songs of Eternal Oak. It was the beginning of the path, both musically and philosophically. And that’s why it’s important to listen to this song, to take a step together with our hero into the reality of legends and parables, the place between the times and Between the Worlds. The reality of Alkonost. Now, having celebrated the 25th anniversary of the band, we decided to give a song from which everything began a new life, giving it a fresh sound. Mathias Lillmåns, the Finntroll vocalist, helped us with this, which was a recognition of the success of our long work and congratulations on our 25th anniversary.”

The newly recorded version of ‘Years of Prophecy’ is available to stream now on all good music platforms and, of course, also on Bandcamp.

Kjell Braaten Drops New Single ‘Frithr’

The latest single from Bergen-based folk artist Kjell Braaten, ‘Frithr’, has made its way to all good streaming platforms. The new release can best be described as darkfolk, despite the fact the Old Norse word ‘Frithr’ means peace. The new song details how one’s soul can sow seeds that “grow in the hearts of those around you”. Sonically, ‘Frithr’ is a “wild spread” mirrored by the spiraling ascent of Braaten’s bassy, percussive and stirring performance. The new track is a teaser taken from Braaten’s upcoming album Blóta (which also features the previous single ‘Hamr’) — the full-lengther is due for release on April 1 and album pre-orders are available now in both digital and CD formats by way of Kjell Braaten’s Bandcamp page.

“It is a ritual to face your darker sides, accept them, and reshape them into a resource rather than a burden.”

Described by Braaten on Bandcamp as a “raw, tribal, and honest album”, the upcoming Blóta appears to be meant also as a ritual LP, with the artist providing the following comment:

‘Frithr’ follows the ethos of the coming album featuring minimal production and instrumentation with transformative, ritualistic, and soulful messages of hope and change, spreading seeds of peace in its wake. Kjell Braaten’s ‘Frithr‘ is available now on all good music streaming platforms.

Danish Death Metal Vikings Vanir Release ‘Sagas’

Denmark’s Viking death metal outfit Vanir has released a new album titled Sagas. The ferocious ten-track LP comes hot on the heels of three singles, including the explosive ‘Dödsfärd’ (“Death’s Journey”). The album marks the culmination of a three-album thematic arc for the artist including previous records Aldar Rök and Allfather.

With a solid history of releases inspired by the myth and legend of Norse culture and heathen culture, Vanir continues to channel epic mysticism into earth-shattering heaviness. Culminating in Sagas, the band’s experience and inspiration can also be seen in the album cover artwork. In a statement on the new release, the band said;

Sagas artwork portraits this with a mixture of various Norse mythical imageries portrayed as a singular being, displaying various aspects of fate, while intertwined in its threads. But one can say, without much hesitation, their sixth effort Sagas is our best yet.”

Spanish Newcomer Pawl D. Beats Releases ‘Viking Music’ Single Ahead of Debut Album

Neofolk newcomer, Madrid’s Pawl D. Beats (Facebook) has made his debut with the rather directly titled single ‘Viking Music (Blood Revenge)’ which is currently available to stream on Spotify. This first single from the emerging Spanish artist comes ahead of the March 19 release of his first album Viking Age Songs — available for pre-order on Bandcamp.

Taking inspiration from songs of battle and the Viking warrior spirit, the 15-track long-play is a compilation of traditional Nordic fol, blended with orchestral instrumentation. A bold, atmospheric, and competent debut, Pawl D. Beats, Viking Age Songs, and his debut single ‘Viking Music (Blood Revenge)’ make a solid first impression — a well-produced foundation that may grow and gain a bolder character on future releases.

Italy’s A Tergo Lupi Long for Home With Darkfolk Album Teaser, Single ‘Kominn Heim’

Italian folk act A Tergo Lupi’s new single ‘Kominn Heim’ (“Coming Home”)’ is a somber composition about longing to return to the land you once knew. Formed in 2018, the band blends together the atmospheric sounds of darkfolk with echoes of industrial influences. In practice, A Tergo Lupi is a band that combines Nordic vocals with the evocative strings of the Scandinavian, Viking Age tagelharpa, and the deep, rumbling marches of ancient war drums.

Laid atop the soft crashing of waves, ‘Kominn Heim’ has a weight and an impact before even the first drum beat finds home. A Tergo Lupi’s latest is a deeply emotional piece that finds a perfect visual accompaniment in its official music video — a suitably paced coastal performance shot alongside the wooden sculptures of Enrico Menegatti.

Available to stream now on all music platforms, ‘Kominn Heim’ can be purchased on Bandcamp and is taken from A Tergo Lupi’s upcoming album which has yet to receive a release date.

Sabaton Release Long-Awaited Epic Album, ‘The War To End All Wars’

Hard battling metal Swedes Sabaton have finally released their World War Two-inspired concept album The War To End All Wars on Nuclear Blast Records. The release follows the band’s previous concept record, The Great War, which focused on the First World War. When discussing the release, frontman, and vocalist, Joakim Brodén, explained:

“With our last album The Great War, we found that we had only scratched the surface in terms of the powerful stories of courage and bravery and also the horrors that took place during the First World War. Fans would contact us and tell us these amazing stories from World War One that none of us had ever heard of before. Incredible stories about everyday people who were willing to give their lives for something bigger than themselves. These were stories of a frightening and liberating time in history that had to be told.”

This fortnight also saw the release of an official lyric video for the track ‘Race to the Sea’, the sixth track of the new album, which is a song inspired by the decision of Albert of Belgium during the Battle of the Yser to flood part of Belgium to prevent Germany from taking control of the country.

Dramatic, large-scale scenes of bravery and brutality, all delivered with the typical grandeur of epic battle metal the band has made their own, are the Sabaton experience made manifest. While Sabaton has canceled several dates of their current European tour, the act has also recently announced several US dates with Dutch symphonic metal band EPICA in what they call The Tour To End All Tours — North America 2022.

A list of upcoming tour dates can be found on Sabaton’s website.

Sun and Moon Dance Gets Closer to Nature With Aural Prayer ‘By Light of an Amber Moon’

North Carolina’s Shamanic neofolksters Sun and Moon Dance have made their return with the new song ‘By Light of an Amber Moon’. Available to stream on Spotify, Bandcamp, and other digital platforms, the song is a heartfelt prayer to the “amber harvest moon” which is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. The track is a penetrating, emotive slice of the Appalachian mountain folk the ritualistic duo has become known for.

Making its way to streaming platforms earlier this month, the new release focuses on the practical aid that bright nights grants farmers of old when the time is ripe for harvest and hunt. ‘By Light of an Amber Moon’ also touches upon how being close to nature in a spiritual, reflective sense spent in the moonlight can help cleanse the soul.

Nattramn Releases New Album ‘Sonatorrek’ Empowered by Skaldic Authenticity

The latest EP from Nattramn, a Swedish folk artist on the rise whom we interviewed here. Sonatorrek is a six-track lament that can be viewed as either an EP or an album. The title Sonatorrek translates to “the irreparable loss of sons”. The new Andreas Axelsson (Nattramn) project is adapted from a rather complex poem created by the Norse warrior-poet Egill Skallagrímsson (Egill’s deeds and life are accounted for in Snorri Sturluson’s Icelandic literature written in the mid-1200s AD.)

The Icelandic tale recounts the life and sorrows of Nordic warrior skald Egill Skallagrímsson (circa 910-990 AD) who following the death of his two sons, Gunnar (who died following a fever) and Bǫðvarr [Bjarki] who drowned in a storm, and their subsequent burial. Devastated by his loss, Egill aimed to starve himself to death, but his plan was thwarted by his daughter Thorgerdur who encouraged him to instead focus on composing a poem in memory of Bǫðvarr.

Describing the recording of the new project, Andreas said:

“This album was initially written to be one single song. But instead of having a massive 25-minute track, I decided to split it up into six pieces with very small subtle differences. Therefore, the songs are more or less musically based on the one and same idea.”

The six-track release, at its core, features atmospheric keys and imposing yet mournful throat-sung vocals that act like chapters in the saga’s aural adaptation. The cover artwork was created in collaboration with Chris of Tales From Utgard (Facebook) and has been designed with care and attention to the range of colors used in the Viking age. Fans can obtain the six-track album on Bandcamp.

Herknungr releases ‘Hróðvitnir’ Single

The newest release to come from Kentish-Norse folk act Herknungr (whom we interviewed here.) ‘Hróðvitnir’ is inspired by the great wolf Fenrir who needs no further introduction. Herknungr’s musician and composer Alex McCree’s newest release is an atmospheric arrangement of drums, tagelharpa, and other ancient instrumentation that blends ambient wolf sounds and elements drawn from video game soundtrack composer Vladimir Frey who is perhaps best known as MoozE and his work on S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (check out Vladimir’s Soundcloud page here.) The short but evocative piece is a swelling build to epic, but muted and moody, instrumentation.

Available to stream on YouTube, ‘Hróðvitnir’ has yet to make its way to services like Spotify, with McCree reportedly mulling a potential release on the platform by the end of March.

‘Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla’ Gets Impressive Economou/Selvik Soundtrack Pair

With the release of ‘Dawn of Ragnarök DLC’ for the popular AC: Valhalla gaming universe, fans have been treated to new adventures, new gameplay, and along with it, new music.

Accompanying the release of the March 9 ‘Dawn of Ragnarök’ video game expansion, composer Stephanie Economou released a matching 24-song soundtrack the day after on Spotify. Her full-lengther is aptly titled Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök (Original Game Soundtrack) and features scores and arrangements by Economou and guest collaborations like Ari Mason, Wilderun, and (unsurprisingly) Einar Selvik himself.

However, Selvik’s involvement with AC: Valhalla does not end here, as Economou’s 24-tracker was supported by yet another Selvik-release in the form of a companion three-track EP dubbed Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Blood, Fire, Tears (Dawn of Ragnarök Original Game Soundtrack) — available on Spotify now.

Both AC: Valhalla soundtracks are available to stream now, with Economou’s hefty 24-track arrangements conjuring a powerful sense of space and atmosphere that parallels Selvik’s short-form EP.

Morhana Tease New Album ‘Eternal War’ With the New Single ‘Queen of Torment’

In Morhana’s first release since 2015’s When Earth Was Forged, Polish folk metal act Morhana has unveiled the first tentative tease of things to come with the new single ‘Queen of Torment’.

This latest slice of epic, doom-charged death metal coarseness is aptly accented with the folk music flavors of flute and violin; a characteristic mix for a band that blends Bretonian and Slavic themes with inspiration also taken from Norse mythology. While ‘Queen of Torment’, and the upcoming album’s second single ‘Thundercry’ which recently premiered on YouTube as a drum playthrough by band member Igor Pisarek are available to stream now, the band’s impending record, Eternal War is confirmed to release on March 21.