Release: 17 March 2017
While I obviously am a fan of folk, pagan and Viking metal, a few releases this year so far that have had a huge impact on me have been heathen folk in nature (Wolcensmen and Runahild) Well, you can add the 2nd full length from Norway’s Byrdi to that list as well. Entitled “Ansur: Urkraft”, the album combines elements of heathen folk, instrumental, vocal and a soundtrack feel to create another powerful album. Their debut (“Eventyr” from 2014) was a treasure I found on Bandcamp and was instantly hooked on it. In between that album and today, they have had a change in lineup with Jørn Øyhus leaving to concentrate on other projects with Andreas Paulsen taking his place along with continuing member Nash Rothanburg. Together, they handle all of the vocal duties along with percussion, acoustic guitar and folk instrumentation along with some guest musicians and vocalists. While I am a huge fan of “Eventyr”, I can say that “Ansur:Urkraft” crushes it on numerous levels. There are so many things to point out I will try to keep it to a minimum but tons of positives are hard to keep at bay. First off, they have released this album on Trollmusic which I think was a perfect fit….after all, this is also the new home for King Of Asgard and their most powerful release to date as well. The first of many highlights is the vocal performances which have moments of solitude and introspection while also sounding 1000 miles tall…..Nash and Andreas have created something akin to what you may be familiar with in Wardruna (which I think is an obvious comparison).
I also think that if you have ever heard what the Gyoto monks from Tibet do vocally, you could hear that connection too……multiple levels of choral vocals from the very deep tones to the primary which create a lush and powerful effect. Secondly, the tracks have more cohesion than “Eventyr” and while not necessarily all the same style, they just all feel like they are coming from the same place so it feels more alive. The tracks are not necessarily long (average about 5 minutes in its 9 tracks) but they seem much longer as they distort time with almost a subliminal undercurrent…..it has a very subtle way of transporting you away in a short amount of time. One of my favorite musicians, Mathias Gyllengahm from our debut album of the year 2016 purveyors Utmarken, plays nyckelharpa on two tracks (“Den Kvasse Nut” and “Ren”) and is one of many artists who contributed powerful parts to this album. The production is absolutely stellar on this, capturing vocals and instrumentation at their apex with hardly a misstep…..the acoustic guitar has a warm and tangible quality to it while the vocals are both haunting and natural.
I had better stop now while I have a chance or I could type a couple thousand words on this album. Another jewel in the Trollmusic catalog and this, along with the debuts from Wolcensmen and Runahild, should be all of the heathen folk you need for the upcoming year.
1. Blaanane Blaa
4. Den Kvasse Nut
8. Graanande Ymir
9. Lite Vet Mennesket