April 30, 2022 — With the New Moon aligned to block the sun, signaling the start of summer and spring as per ancient rituals, this particular Black Moon coincides with a lunar eclipse, thus the movements of the night’s sky are making for potent natural forces. Kurgan Compass™ recommends readers shy away from moon magic because the eclipse energy is so intense as we move forward into May. That aside, the abundance of the past two weeks’ releases has been spectacularly potent in its own right.

“With new releases by Wardruna, NYTT LAND, Munknörr, and many more there is much to digest in this potent roundup.”

Featuring tracks from Wardruna, Sun and Moon Dance, Fuimadane, Ragnarök Duo, and Manntra, full albums from Herknungr and Munknörr, soundtrack pieces from Robert Eggers’s new feature film The Northman that ties into a ByNorse Music approved artist Nebala (who also stars in the movie), the first music from NYTT LAND’s new project Ak Hovu, and some high seas heavy metal brimming with collaborators, there is much to digest below.

To learn more, our eager scribe James Paterson takes you through this latest lunar phase, step by step.

Herknungr Stuns With New Album ‘Kveldsǫngr’

These past few weeks have seen a hefty offering from the ever-prolific Herknungr, on only a couple of days ago, on April 26, the artist’s new seven-track album Kveldsǫngr was released.

Available to buy or stream now on Bandcamp or on the always up-to-date Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlists, the latest from the Kent-based project unsurprisingly focuses on the ritualism and ancient beliefs and practices of the Viking Age, pulling in the timeless notes of horns and tagelharpa along with the act’s signature mix of the sounds of nature.

Hurdy-Gurdy Annual Event Sees Sun and Moon Dance Delight in the ‘Dance of the Summer Sun’

Released to celebrate World Nyckelharpa Day, a yearly event set up exclusively to honor the unique-sounding Scandinavian instrument known as nyckelharpa or hurdy-gurdy, North Carolina purveyors of ritual pagan folk, Sun and Moon Dance, have crafted the gloriously airy and upbeat single ‘Dance of the Summer Sun’.

Currently available to stream or buy on Bandcamp, the new song is a vibrant blend of energetic strings and bird songs that will brighten your day and delight your ears. The song is, of course, also available on the always refreshed Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlists,

Denmark’s Fuimadane Tease New, Slightly Unconventional “Fight Against Darkness” Album

Danish neofolk artist Fuimadane has recently released a four-track tease of the upcoming album Baráttan við Myrkrið, which translates as “the fight against the darkness”. While Fuimadane has something of a reputation for musically explorative work, this latest piece leans closer to a more “traditional” and recognizable Nordic folk sound.

The four tracks, starting with the far from subtle ‘I’m back Motherfuckers’, are a short teaser of the full album, due for release in its entirety on May 1. While the English language and modern slang of the album’s opening track are out of step with neofolk proper, the songs that follow are slickly produced with slight touches of electronica that perhaps bode well for the album’s full release.

You can find Fuimadane’s new release on Bandcamp and select tracks on the weekly updated Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlists.

While on Tour, Italian folk duo Ragnarök Sneaks into The Forest With “Viking-Styled” ‘Skogen’

‘Skogen’ is the latest track from Ragnarök Duo, a Celtic and Nordic folk two-piece whose sound captivates with its blend of traditional and modern instrumentation. Further lifted by digital sounds, the two musicians craft a rousing atmosphere with their work.

‘Skogen’ is a stirring, moody ode to the forest that makes for an exceptional introduction to their sound.

Ragnarök Duo is currently on tour and a proper, official music video for ‘Skogen’ is expected soon. Little is known about the band and they do not seem to have a Bandcamp page. Those who are interested in finding out more about the duo should visit their Facebook page.

For your convenience, the Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlists have had the track listed for a while.

Wardruna Soars To New Heights With New, Livestreamed ‘Fehu’ Single Release

The biggest star in the neofolk scene, Wardruna, hardly needs any introduction. Their latest single, ‘Fehu (First Flight of the White Raven Live Version)’, has made its way to all streaming platforms just in time for the release of the full album, Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven.

The rather phenomenal track is named after the Younger Futhark rune, Fehu ᚠ which represents resources, livestock, and wealth.

The luxury and corrupting influence that too many resources and too much money brings are felt in the lyrics of this characteristically powerful Wardruna track.

“Lyric excerpt: Wealth is joy to man, strife among kin, path of the viper.”

The Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlists have the track in its repertoire too.

Viking Movie ‘The Northman’ Brings Musical Treasure, Features Debutant Folk Artist Nebala

The much-anticipated movie from celebrated director Robert Eggers, The Northman, has brought with it a wealth of music. Firstly a soundtrack single ’Storm at the Sea/Yggdrasil’ from composers Robin Carolan and Sebastian Gainsborough.

Despite bearing many hallmarks of cinematic orchestral fare, this piece is decidedly neofolkish in sound, which is remarkable for music crafted for a big-screen cinema score.

With the full feature in theatres now, the full soundtrack has made its way to streaming platforms, so there is far more to hear of this immersive score, but The Northman’s ingenuity does not end there.

Credited as songwriter and performer in the film’s music department and as Eysteinn in its cast, Jonas Lorentzen has also recently released music under the artist name Nebala. Championed by Norwegian label ByNorse, Nebala has teased their upcoming record Lustuz Laþu Wōþuz Alu, with the track ‘Laþu’.

Lorentzen’s take on Scandinavian folk is full of familiar drone and also echoes of early industrial discordance seemingly mixed into its make-up.

You can find ‘Laþu’ on Nebala’s Bandcamp page as well as on the always up-to-date Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlists.

The above artists all forge inspiring, immersive neofolk adjacent music, though admittedly from widely different angles, and both bear a thorough listen.

Reinventing Ravn: Ean Grimm aka Ian Ravnskjold

These are prolific times for the enigmatic Ian Ravnskjold, who is not overly known in neofolk circles. Releasing music as both Ean Grimm, Ian Ravnskjold, Ravnskjold, or just Ravn, this artist crafts a mix of lengthy atmospheric soundscapes and more digestible tracks and albums.

Released late in March under the Ean Grimm moniker, his decidedly Witcher-influenced single ‘Wolvenstorm’ has a more Celtic than Nordic vibe, while his sprawling works under either name also cover a range of Germanic, folkish, and fantasy sounds.

The track is available on Apple Music and most other music services now.

Seemingly committing to the Ravenskjold name at the moment, Ian/Ean Grimm produces both royalty-free and copyrighted music supported by Patreon, which offers fans access to tracks beyond the masses already available on streaming platforms like YouTube.

Urferd’s Debut Album ‘Resan’ Releases

The long-awaited first full-length release from Sweden’s Urferd, Resan, has finally seen the light of day. Releasing on Sweden’s Black Lodge label earlier this month, founder and sole member of Urferd, Daniel Beckman (Twilight Force, Ages), has crafted a dramatic, dark Nordic folk epic on this impressive debut.

Released on April 15, along with a video for the album’s final single ‘Hemfärd’ above, Urferd’s LP is an epic mix of chants, throat singing, and traditional Nordic instruments, elevated by spectacular production and a cathartic, narrative feel.

You can find Resan and more on Urferd’s Bandcamp page and on the Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlists.

Folk Metal Foursome MANNTRA Doubles Up

Croatian quartet Manntra is an outfit forged from the ashes of industrial metallers Omega Lithium, and on the double A-side single ‘Tanz/Nightmare’, pounding synth chugs blend beautifully with folk metal sensibilities topped by layered vocal chants.

Both halves of the single received official music videos with a visualizer video clip for ‘Tanz’ arriving a month apart from ‘Nightmare’, the latter released on March 30.

These two tracks are the lead singles for the band’s upcoming sixth album Kreatura, due for release on August 5, with pre-orders open now.

A Maritime Metal Take On Drunken Sailors

The folk metal adjacent niche of pirate-themed rock is bigger than one might expect, and shanties have had a spectacular rise in popularity in recent years. One of the most recognizable songs of its kind, ‘Drunken Sailor’ has had a new metallic reimagining from a whole crew of rock cover artists.

Headed up by Jonathan Young, the two-track single, which includes ‘Randy Dandy Oh’ (a sea shanty popularised by the video game Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag) as its B-side, features fellow artists, Colm R. McGuinness, Annapantsu, Caleb Hyles, and RichaadEB. With plenty of novel touches amongst the distortion and drums, including satisfying falsetto wails, on the A-side, ‘Randy Dandy Oh’ leans closer to the symphonic metal territory.

For a genre of working music that has been done time after time to the point of cliché and trope, it has to be said, that this particular shanty remains surprisingly rousing and infectious.

You can find both the A and B-Side of the metalized ‘Drunken Sailor’ on the Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlists (our ‘Heavy Feely Folk’ list for this one.)

NYTT LAND Take New Path on ‘Ak Hovu’ Project

Songsters of the Siberian steppes and the expansive taiga, NYTT LAND, whom we interviewed here, have crafted an impactful and intimidating sound with their shamanic throat-sung dark folk.

Their core sound may be heavy to modern ears but are raw and in keeping with ancient folk music. The duo behind NYTT LAND has released a new music video for a track titled ‘Kurultai’ prefixed by the words “Ak Hovu”.

A quick listen reveals this project has hallmarks aside from the neofolk core of NYTTLAND’s vibe, spiraling waves of synth and drum loops atop the Norse tagelharpa, jaw harp, and atmospheric vocalizations.

The track’s title, ‘Kurultai’, has been described as a reference to the ancient Turkic and Mongolian military councils made up of clan chiefs and Khans who once, notably, saw the historically well-known world conqueror Genghis Khan appointed as Khan in 1206 CE.

Munknörr Channels the Ancient Spirit on New Album Through The Ojibwe language

Released just in time for the new moon, Munknörr has released a full-length album titled Ancient Spirit. The new release continues Munknörr’s journey to find a common, primitive shamanic sound, taking inspiration from both Nordic and Native American tribes. This concept is beautifully captured in the cover art provided by Joan Llopis Doménech (check out his Instagram here.)

Munknörr has made the new album fully available on YouTube as per the above video. In addition to combining traditional flutes and strings, the folk project’s latest release features the Ojibwe language and a track inspired by ‘Kokopelli’, a fertility deity that is also seen as a trickster god and the spirit of music itself, often depicted as a humpbacked flute player with feathers on their head.

The record Ancient Spirit has fully awakened and can be streamed or purchased on Bandcamp now. Select tracks from Munknörr’s new album are also available on the Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlists.

[Editor’s note: The Kurgan interviewed Munknörr last year.]