Release: 7 March 2017
If you follow my podcast here for the site or my reviews from last year then you hopefully are familiar with Eliwagar from Norway. If not, then the latest album “I Vølven’s Vev” was on my list of top albums from 2016. With a blend of traditional instruments, nature sounds and hypnotizing vocals, it was definitely one of the most powerful and mesmerizing albums released in recent memory. Now on the verge of being released (March 7th) is a new album by Runahild (Eliwagar’s primary musician/vocalist/founder) entitled “Seidgaldr” (“Norse Sorcery Spells”). You may ask why release an album under a different name if the music is very similar for the most part? Well that is a hard question to answer and maybe a potential future interview with Runahild would be the best place for that answer. My best at an explanation would be that spiritually it is coming from a different place more grounded in her current time and place then Eliwagar which is more rooted in a longing/memories of a distant home. Wherever the direction of this project is heading, it is equally as powerful as Eliwagar. The album is about 38 minutes or so in length with its 10 tracks (11th track “Urd” somewhat blends into 10th track “Tåkedis” so I would call this one track). There is a nice flow to the tracks here where one may be more percussive based with augmented vocals and the next might be more vocally based with instruments backing. Again like “I Vølven’s Vev” calling these “tracks” really underscores what they are. Categorically, she has described her music as “Ethereal Heathen Folk”…..I couldn’t come up with anything better than that….a perfect description. There is a “natural” overall feel to this and you can basically feel that these are not overly worked compositions that came together in the studio…..most if not all are improvised and one take/tracks. The quality of the recording captured on some of these is so simply done that it increases the power of it that much more. I would want to compare this to something I have recently reviewed but nothing really jumps out for a direct comparison….maybe some of the latest Sowulo album? Not really. Maybe the debut of Wolcensmen? Yes in terms of the power and the passion but musically obviously different. All of the music on here is equally fulfilling whether it is a slightly different style or not. Her vocals are still the highlight for me with the primary vocal and the backing vocal intersecting with each other, weaving in and out and creating a magical transcendental sound. While I am still deeply into metal music, heathen folk recently has overtaken my listening habits with this at the forefront (along with the Wolcensmen). I would invite you to listen to “I Vølven’s Vev” and then “Seidgaldr” back to back to really enhance the experience and I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed. While I thought acoustic based folk was going to be “big” this year, “Seidgaldr” is way off the charts and I see another album of the year candidate on my list.