May 30, 2022 — As seasons turn and summer draws ever nearer, this latest New Moon is the last before the heathen celebration of the Summer Solstice. Soon, warmer months will truly be upon us. In this bi-weekly, lunar-spun round-up of Kurgan-approved releases and news, James Paterson ably reports about music from colder climes focusing on a wide range of metal, neofolk, and world artists like surprise-finds OTYKEN and Pawl D Beats, plus more.
In addition to the above, metal news and folk releases reached us by way of acts like Bjorth, Vildemo, Irdorath, Forfedre, Annie Hurdy Gurdy, Sabaton, and HULKOFF.
Siberian OTYKEN Brings ‘Storm’ and music video
Among the newly found act and releases of this lunar cycle is the distinctive Eurasian sonic ‘Storm’ of Siberia’s OTYKEN. The act’s most recent release, ‘Storm’ is a lively mix of instrumentation and vocal techniques familiar to fans of the neofolk genre with subtle touches of electronic samples and keyboards amid the jaw harps, percussion and strings, but most notably filled with youthful energy.
OTYKEN’s band members all hail from the Chulym Tartar people, one of the smallest indigenous groups native to Siberia. The video for ‘Storm’ was filmed on the Chulym River, close to the village of Pasechnoye, which is regarded as the capital of the Chulyms.
Prior to being forcibly converted to Christianity in the 1500s, the Chulym were considered to be of Turkic descent. Scholars familiar with the tribe have suggested they are the ancestors of the Japanese Ainu and partially also the indigenous peoples of North America, while others have made believable claims the Samurai Ainu hail from Europe — perhaps there is some truth to both theories.
OTYKEN brings a fresh perspective to their history and culture by using a unique combination of neofolk sounds. They are a band we are certainly going to follow going forward.
Spanish folk artist Pawl D Beats Drops New Single ‘Viking Music: Odin Hear Our Call’
Madrid-based artist Paul Daniel Ciupe, better known as Pawl D Beats, has returned with more neofolk flavored music, rich in imposing atmosphere, soaring vocals, and undulating strings. Titled ‘Viking Music: Odin Hear Our Call’ and released to the artist’s SoundCloud and YouTube channels, his latest single is a lean and evocative piece that makes for a compelling listen.
Pawl recently compiled a number of his simple yet aptly titled Viking Music releases to a single playlist, some twenty tracks long available to stream on SoundCloud, including material not currently available to purchase from the artist’s Bandcamp page.
Comprising songs inspired by Norse and Pagan mythology, the Vikings TV series, and Robert Eggers’ recent feature The Northman, these gathered releases and the recent video for ‘Viking Music: Odin, Hear Our Call’ continue to show the strength of Pawl D Beats aural potential in the genre, whose ever-growing body of work bears exploring.
Bjorth’s New EP Features Fuimadane and Foresaga — New track ‘Ullr’ released
Released on May 17, German dark folk project Bjorth’s recent collaborative six-track EP, Annarr, featuring Fuimadane and Polish solo act Foresaga is a darkly evocative work that conjures warlike imagery, misty forests, and the ruin of battle as the ‘Valkyrjur’ descend. A curious inclusion in the EP is a lesser honored god. rarely referred to in contemporary neofolk music, namely ‘Ullr’.
Crafted in cooperation with Danish artist Fuimadane, and later revisited as an instrumental version, Ullr focuses on the little-known Norse deity of snow and war bow, a god some consider second only to Odin, indeed known to usurp the Allfather in winter months.
Ullr is also associated with archery, skiing, and winter, although in the poetic prose of the Snorri Sturluson’s Edda’s, Ullr is not explicitly described as “the god of” any element of ability, despite the fact the name is closely tied with the origins of the Proto-Germanic word for glory, “Wulþuz”.
“The track ‘Ullr’ focuses on a little-known Norse deity of snow, skiing, and archery, by some considered second only to Odin.”
Musically speaking, ‘Ullr’ amounts to two chapters of sound; an initial brooding string with a horn-heavy slow burn of atmosphere, before switching gears when the throat-sung vocals drop at its mid-point.
Much like the deity in question, ‘Ullr’ finds its moment in the stillness of the later part of the year; the calm of the hunt. On the whole, Annar as an EP is remarkable throughout and made all the more enjoyable with the Foresaga and Fuimadane contributions.
The EP is available to stream now and is, of course, also included on our Spotify neofolk playlist.
Sweden’s Vildemo Sounds A ‘Shaman Call’
Småland-based Swedish folk artist Vildemo has released the winter-themed song, ‘Shaman Call’ to Apple Music and other streaming services along with a soothing, if not a little icy, music video (that curiously was released more than a month before the single appeared on streaming services.)
Inspired by the shaman-like magic of seiðr, practiced in Norse cultures from the late Iron Age onwards, and as several stories tell, their ability to cause snow to fall simply by calling to it. This kind of magic would be sought in order to gather enough snow to help preserve food in the winter months.
‘Shaman Call’ is a gentle, soothing journey that incorporates kulning, a form of Scandanavian yodel-like vocalization associated with cattle-herding. Vildemo’s kulning calls in this case are set to summon the snow and stir the heart.
After arriving on streaming services on May 20, Vildemo commented on social media that it is perhaps time for more summery sounds on future releases and that work on a full-length release will proceed after completing a book project. Listen now via the Kurgan Compass Spotify neofolk playlist.
Idorath Revisits the Ragnarök Apocalypse by way of new album ‘Götterdämmerung MMXXII’
Austrian extreme black/thrash metal band Irdorath’s latest recording, Götterdämmerung MMXXII, which was released on May 20, is a re-recorded and reworked version of the band’s sold-out 2007 debut album Götterdämmerung — Zorn der Elemente (which translates as “Wrath of The Elements”).
This revitalized edition of the band’s early material has been in the works since 2020, conceived during the development of the band’s fifth full-lengther, The Final Sin. While only Markus remains from the band’s original lineup, Idorath enlisted their original singer, Schnitter, to rerecord vocals from Götterdämmerung, whose brutal tones can be heard on the record’s first single ‘Windgeist’.
While the record is fully rerecorded and remastered, the band took care to revisit every element of the original, recording the whole thing at Sound Delusion Studio in Austria while enlisting illustrator Benjamin König (also known as Sperber Illustrationen) to rework the 2007 cover art.
The resulting brutality of Götterdämmerung MMXXII is a slick and deliciously heavy seven-track slab of metal that is far more than the sum of its parts. It will for sure delight fans of extreme music. Listen now on the Kurgan Compass ‘Heavy Feely Folk’ Spotify playlist.
Finnish Folkster Forfedre drops Viking Dance
Helsinki-based Forfedre’s latest instrumental release, ‘Viking Dance’ made its way to streaming services on May 27, making its moves among all the major players. Forfedre is one of the many musical hats worn by Finnish composer Matti Paalanen, who also composes music under the name Celestial Aeon Project.
Originally starting out composing music as a backdrop to his tabletop roleplaying campaigns in games such as Dungeons & Dragons, Paalanen’s output has grown to feature Celtic, Nordic, and epic folk with some releases shared as full-length albums under the Forfedre name.
Short and impactful with a jaw harp backbone acting as its percussive hook ‘Viking Dance’ is an infectious and curious morsel that has more pace and groove than other more ambient works in the Forfedre oeuvre and is perfect for those looking for instrumentals with a touch more bite.
Annie Hurdy Gurdy & Versengold Complete Tour
Folk instrumentalist and internet phenomenon Annie Hurdy Gurdy (Bandcamp) has recently finished a sizeable tour as part of Germany folk-rockers Versengold’s live line-up. As the Nacht der Balladen 2022 tour draws to a close, Annie has shared details of an exclusive, professionally shot live video from the tour with her Patreon subscribers.
The live track delivered to patrons is a performance of her collaboration and vocal duet with Versengold for the song ‘Eis & Asche’. While the song remains locked away, for now, her return home is short-lived as she is now performing live with the German medieval musical troupe Comes Vagantes, who perform on bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy, and drums, making a natural fit for Annie’s sound.
Sabaton and HULKOFF conquer Sweden with the close of ‘The Great Sweden Tour 2022’
With Sabaton’s European continent-wide Tour to End All Tours, in support of their recent album The War to End All Wars, delayed until 2022, the Swedish heavy metal battlers hatched a plan to make the best of a challenging situation.
With COVID and its associated uncertainty meaning an international tour was difficult if not impossible to organize, Sabaton instead opted for an extensive tour of their home country, with a whopping 30 dates across Sweden with the support from fellow folk metal battle act HULKOFF (Bandcamp).
With the Swedish tour now completed, things certainly went beyond well, with almost all Swedish venues sold out immediately.
For a band the size of Sabaton, who are often major players in the stadium and festival circuit, this was a unique tour that took them to venues that varied in size, at times making for a far more intimate performance than you would otherwise see from both of these metallic giants.
A grand undertaking made a resounding success, and if fans are to be believed, The Grand Tour of Sweden may be a novel one-off or the way ahead for bands that see sudden organizational shocks.
Whether Sabaton will go on more “Grand Tours” in the future, their postponed, international Tour to End All Tours is currently set to begin anew in September with dates across the United States and Canada confirmed, with support coming from Dutch symphonic metallers Epica. Further details on these live dates and more can be found on Sabaton’s website.
European dates have yet to be confirmed but are expected to take place in 2023. In the interim, however, Sabaton is set to appear at a number of European festivals over the summer, beginning with Belgium’s Graspop Metal Meeting on June 19, followed by Download Germany, France’s Hellfest, and Switzerland’s Frauenfeld Rocks.