August 28, 2021 — Kurgan Compass prides itself on revealing the newest, most exhilarating music discoveries rooted in ancient myth, dark mystery, and unknown history. This week, we touch upon the new album Stave by US neofolk masters Osi and the Jupiter, the ferocious latest record from Swedish Viking metallers Thyrfing, and more.
Also stumbled upon; Foresaga’s moving dark folk single ‘Seiðr’, a piece of super-charged Nordic metal by way of HULKOFF’s newest single ‘Til Valhall’, the folk-touched, Norwegian metal ambiance of DROTT’s ‘Arch of Gloom’, and new pagan folk release ‘Khors’ — all the way from Russia’s Bjarla.
A selection of the tracks mentioned in this article has been added to the Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlist which readers can find and follow here.
Osi and The Jupiter’s New Album ‘Stave’
The effective fusion of neofolk and Appalachian forest folk has formed a solid foundation for the sound of Osi and the Jupiter. Stave, the fourth album from the Ohio-based outfit featuring the multi-instrumentalist Sean Deth (also frontman/bassist of Burial Oath and Witchhelm) includes guest appearances by Canada’s Anilah’s Dréa Drury on the song ‘Wights’ and Poland’s Michał Krawczuk of By the Spirits for recent single In Death (Carry Me Home). Stave rounds out the sound of traditional instruments and chants with warm, soulful, and oftentimes eerie violin that adds to that sense of a mournful balance of life and death in the American wilderness.
With Stave’s literal talk of staves, a form of geometric rune magic that has its roots in medieval Iceland, known as galdrastafir ages ago, is a term that translates as “galdra” for magic “stafi” for sticks, Osi’s Stave conveys a feeling of keeping the tradition alive halfway across the world — Old Gods on new shores.
Osi and The Jupiter have their own sound, and it is likely that it will carve itself into listeners while working its spell long thereafter. Osi and the Jupiter’s Stave is out now on German label Eisenwald and can also be streamed on all music services. Fans who would like to support Osi directly can do so by purchasing the album on Bandcamp.
Hulkoff’s Grim Journey To Valhalla
Utterly brutal, and phenomenally bilingual, metal warrior Pär Hulkoff, better known as HULKOFF has debuted his new single ‘To Valhalla’ (which Kurgan Compass™ reported of here) in two editions; Swedish (Svitjod) and English (Vinland) ahead of his upcoming Ragnarök. While you would certainly expect a hefty dose of guitar-driven grooves and lyrical ferocity from Viking-inspired folk metal, what is truly impressive is how deft HULKOFF is at crafting the same sense of pace and intensity in both tongues.
HULKOFF’s sound toes a line that blends Viking and folk elements with heavy metal of such force it stands tall above the likes of Sabaton. This second single follows ‘Holmgang’, the first single of the new album that also highlights the growing metallic influence in Hulkoff’s material. With potentially a third single yet to come, the anticipation surrounding Ragnarök is tense.
For now, you can find ‘To Valhalla’ streaming on all major music services and YouTube. The surprise release of this single heralds a confirmed date of October 22 for Ragnarök, which can be preordered now by way of Faravid Recordings.
Foresaga Drops New Single ‘Seiðr’
Foresaga’s new single, ‘Seiðr’ is named after a form of magic that was practiced by “wise women” in Scandinavia (and possibly also Germany) since ancient times. Weavers of seiðr “magic” were said to be able to tell the future and are believed to have been closely related to the Norns of Norse mythology. The Cologne three-piece act Foresaga, which comprises Franziska on song, Meri on violin, and Björn handling production, is a name that was taken from old high German, and that the trio translates as “prophecy” or “divination”.
An ambient mix of swirling sounds, horn calls, strings, and ethereal vocals, ‘Seiðr’ is a delightful surprise put together by Foresaga which formed earlier in 2021. With only a handful of singles and collaborations behind them, Foresaga’s brand of neofolk already captures stirring instrumentation and vibrant vocal performances which is further elevated by strong production.
Foresaga’s ‘Seiðr’ is available to stream now on all major platforms and can also be bought or streamed from the band’s Bandcamp page.
Swedish Viking Metallers Thyrfing Returns
Since rising from the ever-expanding Swedish underground scene in the mid-nineties, Thyrfing has just released a new album, having built its way towards the top of speedy pagan, Viking black metal for decades. Taking their name from the Dwarven-cursed blade of Tyrfing of Norse mythology, the band has also established a repertoire of seven full-length albums and a solid live reputation and was well-prepared for the release of Vanagandr on August 27.
Vanagandr, which is Thyrfing’s first studio album since 2013’s De ödeslösa, performed mostly in Swedish, is a celebration of Scandinavian folklore, starting with the monstrous beast that gave their new record its name. An alternative name for the great wolf Fenrir, Vanagandr is one of many monstrous children of Loki as cited in the Eddas.
The first-ever music video for Thyrfing, ‘Döp dem i eld’, is an incendiary performance clip, for a title that translates as “Baptize Them With Fire”. The band’s new partnership with Despotz makes this album their first on the label but also promises new life for their back catalog. The band recently signed over the rights to their first four albums, Thyrfing (1998), Valdr Galga (1999), Urkraft (2000), and Vansinnesvisor (2002) with the label confirming exclusive physical re-issues are coming. Stockholm-based record label Despotz Records has also minted the band’s single Döp dem i eld as an NFT, currently reserved at 0.666 ETH, making them the first metal band to release a full track in NFT format.
Thyrfing’s Vanagandr is out now on Despotz Records and is streaming now where people listen to music.
Bjarla Indulge In Sun Worship With ‘Khors’
Hailing from Moscow, Russia, ambient pagan folksters Bjarla has crafted their name from an amalgam of the Old Icelandic words “björt” and “bjarmi”, supposedly meaning “bright” and “shine”. It only seems fitting then that such a sparkling set of folk-fuelled individuals should explore the Slavic deity Khors on their latest single. Likened to a Slavic Apollo at times, ‘Khors’, as interpreted by Bjarla is the god of the winter sun that warms the earth after frosts and blizzards.
Bjarla’s layered vocals incorporate throat singing and are a potent mix of folk instrumentation that include jouhikko (the Finno-Ugric variant of the Norse tagelharpa), jaw harp, and the hurdy-gurdy — fused together, the track sounds alternately ritualistic and celebratory. ‘Khors’ is a rousing rite to celebrate the warmth-giving entity of the same name, and is also a compelling introduction to the prolific act that has releases dating back to 2017 available on Bandcamp alongside their latest single.
Bjarla’s stirring ‘Khors’ is available to stream or buy on Bandcamp.
DROTT Drops Enigmatic Video For “Gloom”
‘Arch of Gloom’ weaves sinister jazz and imposing strings into its rich folklore narrative. The cinematic metal of Arve Isdal (Enslaved), Ivar Thormodsæter (Ulver), and Matias Monsen’s DROTT continues to craft eerie and oppressive progressive rock soundscapes with their latest track. The Bergen-based outfit, inspired by the unexplained — superstition, spirituality, and nature crafts — unease through the rich smoky textures of ‘Arch of Gloom’ (and recent single ‘‘Marauders’.)
The band explained their latest release with the following statement;
“At the end of a dark and bouncy road lies the Arch of Gloom. Through persistent bass and drums, Arch of Gloom is driven to the point of desperate collapse by a haunting guitar solo. Mesmerizing in its mystical attraction, it hypnotizes desperate souls into a surrealistic dance before they are lured down the abyss to face the verdict of Orcus.”
The aural paranoia crafted by DROTT’s latest release is amplified by the sight of the masked trio, making imposing shapes in the wilderness in the Jens Kristian Rimau directed music video for the new single. The new footage follows the band’s previous, ominous, woods-stalking video for ‘Marauders’ — directed by the band’s own Arve Isdal.
DROTT’s upcoming full-length Orcus, and its preceding singles are making their way to us by way of By Norse music, an independent label founded by Einar Selvik (Wardruna), Ivar Bjørnson (also of Enslaved), and Simon Füllemann as a means to elevate and celebrate Norwegian art, music, and culture.
‘Arch Of Gloom’ is available courtesy of ByNorse Music on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, and the rest of the platforms out there. Also, DROTT’s upcoming album Orcus is available for pre-order on Bandcamp with a release date set to September 24.
A selection of the above-mentioned tracks has, as always, been added to the Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlist which readers can find and follow here.