April 1, 2022 — As the new moon of April occurs on the first date of the first month of magical spring, the forces of folk and metal team up once more to gift the world with a variety of artistic endeavors and some rather epic music. With such a bountiful bevy of recently-released material, we put veteran music journalist James Paterson to task with articulating the finer points of today’s neofolk and metal rundown.
In this edition of Kurgan Compass’ ‘New Moon Fortnight’ roundup, great and notable tracks from artists like Finnish newcomers Noiduin, Arctic folklorists Bjarla, Holland’s pride Sowulo, new Swedish artist Urferd pack a good punch. And, there are more — Faun, Danheim, Foresaga, Annie Hurdy Gurdy, Brothers of Metal, Hellacopters, Týr have all worked hard to bring out the good stuff. It is no understatement that folk and metal fans have been spoiled these past two weeks with releases from new artist projects plus a slew of music videos from some of the bigger names in folk, as well as intriguing video clips and tour details from Faun and Annie Hurdy Gurdy — with longer releases from Herknungr and Týr also in the mix.
As ever, you can find our favorite tracks added to the Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlists.
New, Finnish Folk Act Noiduin Release Debut EP
Finland’s Noiduin (Bandcamp) has made its debut, with the release of the four-track EP Korven Kolkon Kainalossa. In development since 2020, her project is not the only new folkish newcomer to come out of what was once the Eastern half of Sweden, with Karelia’s Virrentakoja being another recent launch.
Anyhow, Noiduin was started by visual artist Jemina Kärvi who takes inspiration from Finnish folklore and mythology, not unlikely from works like Kalevala and ancient lyrics that include primeval Finnish incantations and rune hymns. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jemina’s music also draws inspiration from major neofolk acts like Wardruna, Heilung, and Rúnahild.
Jemina, who sings and plays all of Noiduin’s music herself, mainly performs using traditional instruments including the ancient jouhikko, which in broad terms can be described as Finland’s version of the iconic Norse tagelharpa (that is used by practically all major neofolk bands, ranging from Heilung, Draugablíkk, Wardruna, and Danheim.) Archeological discoveries from around 200 AD point to the jouhikko having existed for a fair bit longer than the more advanced tagelharpa — which typically has more strings. As far as we know, the oldest tagelharpa found is an Anglo-Saxon variant from the 500s AD.
Impressively, Jemina has built her own jouhikko making her tonality entirely unique and uncopyable. While Noiduin is for the most part a one-woman folk project, she is joined by Henri Virolainen who is best known as the guitarist of black metallers Blood Chalice. Incidentally, Henri provides vocals on two tracks of Noiduin’s launch EP, namely the song titles ‘Hiien hurtta’ and ‘Karhun synty’.
Speaking about the new project collaboration, Jemina said;
“I intended Noiduin to be a small project of my own, only with female vocals and me playing all the instruments. But then I met Henri and as he was also working on his own darkfolk project Myrrys, I asked him to try and sing some vocals for ‘Hiien hurtta’ and ‘Karhun synty’. I liked the result so much that I’m hoping that in the future we’ll co-operate even more.”
Noiduin’s Korven Kolkon Kainalossa EP is available to stream now on all major music services, including Spotify. As is often the case with folk music projects, she can (and should) be supported directly by purchasing her music from the official Noiduin Bandcamp page.
Bjarla Take a Stride Through ‘Snöstorm’
Russian ambient folk artists Bjarla (Official Website) have released a music video for their latest single ‘Snöstorm’ [Editor’s Note: A Swedish word that simply means “snowstorm”.] Their latest release since January’s (also Sweden-inspired) Kulning EP, the new ‘Snöstorm’ is an atmospheric pairing of the undulating Scandinavian kulning cattle herding vocal style (often cited as being a form of yodel) and tensely strummed mandolin. Effectively a re-release of Bjarla’s 2019 single, the new mountain performance video sees Bjarla founding members, singer Poison Ivy and instrumentalist Anton Marchuk (guitar, mandolin, bass, and harp) taking to snowy plains to salute the beauty and power of wintery blizzards.
Moreover, the soaring. breathy vocals of ‘Snöstorm are drawn from two Swedish proverbs:
“Det som göms i snö, kommer upp i tö” which means “What is hidden in snow, reaeppars in the thaw”.
“Ropa inte hej förrän du är över bäcken” of which the deeper meaning translates to “do not take anything for granted (don’t say “hej” meaning “hello”) until you have successfully made it across the river”.
Sowulo Teases Wurdiz album with ‘Wyrd Webba’
While fans will have to wait until September 9 this year for the release of Dutch-Nordic darkfolk artist Sowulo’s newest full-length album Wurdiz to be released on Wardruna-related Norwegian label By Norse, the first tease of what to expect from the upcoming LP has made its way to the internet in the form of the first single ‘Wyrd Webba’. Described by the artist as a symbolic poem empowering the listener to “become a weaver of their own fate”, the newly released song describes the traditional, magical craft of spinning thread from wool — an important practice in ancient times connected to the Norns of Norse mythology.
The upcoming twelve-track record from multi-instrumentalist Faber Horbach’s Sowulo continues the larger themes and questions of life, those of fate and free will, with the release’s title, “Wurdiz” being a reconstructed Proto-Germanic word believed to mean “destiny”. The full album is being described as a soundscape and will be incorporating a broad range of historic instruments, including the Celtic Iron Age wind horn known as carnyx, lyre, the stringed, medieval nyckelharpa often called hurdy-gurdy in English, Irish bouzouki, Celtic harp, and various blow horns alongside throat singing, incantations, and other powerful vocals. Wurdiz is about becoming aware of one’s own soul’s deeper meaning, within the tapestry of life as events unfold around us. Speaking about the release, Sowulo’s Horbach said;
‘“Life, or our reality, can be seen as an unfolding tapestry formed by all kinds of different threads that interact with each other. All the threads are interlinked, holding each other in place. The unfolding reality which takes form in ‘the loom of life’ is based on the interplay between your agency and your fate. Are you aware of which thread you are in the bigger picture? Are you able to co-create your reality with fate? To recognize your own fate is the first step in consciously embracing your destiny, and so you will become who you truly are.”
While Sowulo’s new single ‘Wyrd Webba’ is available to stream on all major platforms, a lyric video is also available on Youtube, with pre-orders for the Wurdiz LP in all formats available through the Norwegian label By Norse’s online store.
Faun Tease Tourdates With ‘Tamlin’ Live Clip
Germany’s Faun (Official WebsitE) has returned with a live performance clip for the new single ‘Tamlin’. The latest slice of their distinctive blend of Celtic and Nordic-inspired folk, Faun’s new single ‘Tamlin’ is a ballad plucked straight from their upcoming full-length record with the not so original name Pagan. The buoyant new single is based on an Old Scottish Ballad about a young boy who was kidnapped and cursed by the Queen of Fairies before she was, ultimately, saved by the power of love.
The live teaser comes only days ahead of the band’s latest round of tour dates, to be performed in Germany, the UK, and Belgium. The LP drops in late April, and the new single ‘Tamlin’ is available to stream on Spotify and all other major platforms, with preorders for their album Pagan being available from Faun’s webstore.
Danheim Drops Two Singles, ‘Hel’ and ‘Hagalaz’
Copenhagen-based Nordic folk act Danheim (official website) takes us on a dark journey through the nine realms of death with the new single ‘Hel’ and its strikingly animated music video. The latest track from Danish producer Mike Olsen’s Viking-inspired Danheim project, the new single ‘Hel’, much like the recently released ‘Hagalaz’, is taken from the band’s as-yet-untitled upcoming album, scheduled for release later in 2022.
As Danheim explains;
“Those who suffer are led through the gates leading to the depths of Helheim and Niflheim, where matter must be decomposed” while others may sleep among the gods, celebrating and feasting upon freshly brewed mead.”
An engrossing listen, Danheim’s new ‘Hel’ release is breathtakingly accompanied by the dramatically illustrated and animated visuals of Ukrainian artist Selin Serhii in the official music video.
‘Hel’ tells the tale of the rest that awaits beyond the grave in the halls of the Nordic conception of an afterlife. Despite the similarity to “Hell”, the Norse goddess Hel is a far different entity and the realm of Helheim is nothing like the Christian domain of eternal punishment. Instead, Helheim is a temporary interlude where the goddess Hel judges and directs souls to spend an appropriate time in a setting that befits the nature of their deeds in the mortal plane — call it Norse Karma if you will.
Foresaga Release ‘Runa’
Cologne-based folk trio Foresaga has released another emotive and atmospheric single in the shape of ‘Runa’. Streaming on all major platforms now, including Spotify, Runa is the latest “proper” release from the band following collaboration ‘The Sea’ with Bjorth and Aethelwyne in February.
‘Runa’ conjures a similar feeling of broad space in sound through the aid of Franziska Kohl’s airy vocals, the poignant ebbing violin of Meri Tadic, and Bjoern Raymond Hoppen’s subtle percussion and production; altogether, continuing an exceptional track record of short releases from Foresaga.
Herknungr Launch Four-Track ‘Hraustr’ EP
Broadstairs, Kent-based artist Alex McCree’s ambient folk project Herknungr has released a new four-track EP entitled Hraustr (Bandcamp). In keeping with Herknungr’s past work, the new release is inspired by Germanic and Viking Age culture and music. Hraustr is an instrumental release that is a compilation of new material featuring a variety of horns, horn pads, choirs, Norse tagelharpa that successfully mixes in the sounds of nature, and other natural-sounding effects.
This brief but richly layered release makes for an absorbing listen in spite of its short running time and is recommended for fans of dark ambient folk.
Annie Hurdy Gurdie To Tour With Versengold
German folk music multi-instrumentalist Annie Hurdy Gurdy has announced through her Patreon that she is heading on tour with another German folk artist, namely Versengold. In a Patreon post that featured a short unlisted YouTube clip showing Annie performing on stage with members of Versengold.
Versengold is a neo-medieval band that mixes historical material with a range of musical influences including Irish folk which contributes to the band’s energetic and danceable compositions
Annie will be joining the band on the ‘Nacht der Balladen’ Tour, a series of eight dates starting in late April that will traverse Germany including stops in Stuttgart, Leipzig, and Berlin. Cementing Annie’s growing popularity, at the time of her announcement, all dates with the exception of Flensburg are completely sold out.
Further details can be found on Annie Hurdy Gurdy’s official Patreon page.
Urferd Release Third Single ‘Avfärd’
Another new, Swedish darkfolk project by the name of Urferd has delivered their third single, ‘Avfärd’ ahead of their debut album which is set for release in April. Urferd is the brainchild of Daniel Beckman (Twilight Force, Ages) who is also the neofolk project’s sole member.
Urferd’s upcoming full-length, Resan, is set for release on April 15 on Black Lodge Records and is described as being comprising a multitude of captivating musical landscapes and themes throughout the entirety of the upcoming album. Urferd’s immersive, energetic soundscapes have been unveiled one by one through motion graphic lyric videos for the tracks ‘Vaka’, ‘Envig’, and ‘Avfärd’ in sequence, all of which can now be found on Spotify and elsewhere ahead of Resan’s release.
Urferd’s trio of slickly produced pieces makes for an imposing sense of power and space that bode well for Resan’s arrival in a few short weeks.
Brothers of Metal Drops ‘The Other Son Of Odin’
Hailing from Falun, just like Swedish metallers Sabaton, the folkish folk metal eight-piece Brothers of Metal (Official Website) have released their first new material since 2020’s Emblas Saga in the shape of the new single ‘The Other Son of Odin”
While many know of Baldr and Thor, the new track focuses on the relatively unknown Vidar (one of Odin’s sons.) Lead vocalist and “voice of the Valkyries” Ylva Eriksson explained why the Brothers of Metal chose this godly son above the All-Father’s other offsprings, saying;
“Vidar is a mysterious cool god that we hadn’t heard of before. We thought it would be fun to write a song about one of the lesser-known gods. He is one of the few that survives Ragnarök. And WHO can resist his very odd gimmick of having ONE enormous boot!?”
In a deliciously goofy blend of power metal and Norse mythology, ‘The Other Son of Odin’ is a delightful tease of things to come, despite no official confirmation of an upcoming full lengther.
The Hellacopters Are ‘So Sorry I Could Die’
Swedish stalwarts garage-rockers The Hellacopters have long been masters of sinister-sounding metal punk betwixt the likes of the Ramones, The Damned, Motörhead, and Venom with a touch of metal. In their latest single ‘So Sorry I Could Die’, taken from their upcoming eighth studio album Eye of Oblivion which is due out April today, the band who led by frontman Dregen delves into bluesy remorseful territory that accented with riffs not entirely unlike Black Sabbath in its mid-section.
The devilish Swedes bluesy hard rock vibe runs through all this album cycle’s current singles, such as title track ‘Eyes of Oblivion’, and ‘Reap A Hurricane’, the latter of which will please fans of Scorpions style swagger and high-quality riffery.
With The Hellacopters’ record Eye of Oblivion releasing on Nuclear Blast Records, the fuel-injected action rockers’ latest is already streaming on Spotify.
Týr Spend ‘A Night at the Nordic House’ In Iceland To Perform New, Live Metal-Orchestral Album
After a slew of eight studio albums and many more releases besides, Faroese islanders Týr have built up a definitive body of progressive “far-west” Scando-Icelandic metal. With the new live album, A Night at the Nordic House, Týr has done more than merely perform a selection of fan favorites, as the new LP sees the band pair (once more) with the Symphony Orchestra of the Faroe Islands for new expanded arrangements of the band’s original studio riffage.
To witness Týr’s epic sound for yourself, we are more than happy to include the video for ‘By the Sword in My Hand’ below:
A Night at the Nordic House is an 18 track release that is a hefty chunk of Viking-inspired metal performed at the distinctive venue Nordic House. Situated in Reykjavik, the Nordic House is a highly respectable, international locale devoted to Nordic contemporary art and discussion that makes it the perfect venue to host any convergence of Norse culture, music, and history.
Available now in a range of physical formats via the band’s label Metal Blade Records as well as on Týr’s Bandcamp page, full-lengther A Night at the Nordic House is a mind-blowing escalation of Týr’s metallic repertoire with the full symphonic backing of strings, brass, and choirs bolstering their already strong, well-developed Viking sound and the Kurgan highly recommend a purchase.