5 pagan folk releases from 2020 you should check out still

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Every single year there is a recurring problem. We get a truckload of promo’s and press releases in our mailbox and together with those we don’t get anything on but are still worthwhile, we can’t give all of them the attention they deserve. So this time around we’re doing something new in which we take a look still at some of the releases we missed out on covering earlier and would hope you don’t miss out either.

Myrkur – ‘Folkesange’

(30/3/2020 – Relapse Records)

Amalie Bruun released under her Myrkur moniker a third studio full-length. She always brought a quite unique sound and style, having the power to take you on a mystical, musical journey. With ‘Folkesange’ she’s bringing the magic of her acoustic sets to a records. Amalie applies many traditional folk elements into the mix like “Kulning”, an ancient Scandinavian herding call and instruments like the nyckelharpa, the lyre and the mandola. The album title definitely doesn’t lie: it is an album filled to the brim with folk songs. Some are more traditional and others are very modern, some of them are calm and mystical, others are danceable like ‘Fager som en Ros’ and ‘House Carpenter’. With the help of Heilung member and musical collaborator Christopher Juul, Amalie turned in a mesmerizing and gorgeous piece of music that we can definitely recommend.

SKÁLD – Vikings Memories

(9/10/2020 – Decca Records)

The French viking outfit SKÁLD has been around for only a couple of years now, but have turned quite some heads already. Their mission is to bring the old Norse tradition of the so called “Skáld” poets into the modern world and manage to do this admirably. With their second release ‘Vikings Memories’, barely a year after their debut, they continue to bring the tales and folklore from ancient Norse times to us all. This time they seem to be focusing more on the importance of water and the oceans in the lives of the vikings and turned it into yet another lovely album. While they maybe aren’t as experimental and ritualistic sounding as some of their colleagues like the popular Heilung and Wardruna, they manage to find a great balance between more primal sounds and modern day (almost pop) melodic qualities. It’s an album that nowhere really surprises or shocks, but is from start to finish a satisfying bliss of Nordic folk songs that can take you away from modern society during its playtime. The combination of percussion, deep male vocals/chants and gorgeous female vocal lines simply strike a chord and make this an album you might want to give a try if you haven’t yet.

Hindarfjäll – ‘Från Tidernas Begynneise’

(20/11/2020 – Grimfrost Records)

I came across the music of Hindarfjäll while searching for exactly what this Swedish has to offer. They released their debut in 2020 via Grimfrost Records and promise to use modern instruments in re-creating an ancient sound and atmosphere. And that’s exactly what you get on this album. It starts off with sounds that take you on a trip to the magical nature of the Nordic/Scandinavian region. I can see this being the perfect soundtrack for a hike through said nature and forests with it atmospheric music and mesmerizing vocal performances. It really vibrates with a certain string in my heart and soul and is absolutely captivating and epic in its rather minimalist approach. There are no high energy ritualistic songs that get your blood pumping, but its true power rests in the healing and calming energy the gorgeous compositions will bring in your life.

ЯRuGa – ‘Vaiga’

(1/6/2020 – independent)

The Russian ЯRuGa or “Yaruga” was quite the interesting discovery. When we had a pagan folk focused day with the site, they reached out to us and when I heard they had already released an album in 2020, I checked them out. These guys are nowhere near well-known, but their raw mix of primal sounds, simple ritualistic drumming and Russian lyrics (with even some throat singing here and there) is absolutely captivating. It’s so simple and straightforward, but at the same time it radiates a certain magical energy that is undeniable and feels very tribal. I quite literally felt like I was on a different world while listening to their music and in my books, that’s what you want to get from music like this. They mentioned that they’re working on releasing new material in 2021 and I urge you to keep an eye on them.

Sigurboði – ‘Kvæðamaðr’

(1/8/2020 – independent)

While the earlier mentioned Skáld is trying to bring some of the Nordic history and its tradition of traveling poets into today’s world, the musician Sigurboði simply embodies it. Everything he seems to be doing oozes with his ancestral history and the music on this release sounds authentic and ancient. This is a true Icelandic Skáld who almost seems out of place in this modern society but who we so dearly need in our lives. He’s singing from old Icelandic Poetry, Eddic Poetry and Norse myth and folklore, accompanied by just his lyre, taglharpa and drum and brings you the closest you probably can get to how things were back then without an actual time machine. It’s gorgeous and haunting, epic in its simplicity and nearly every track gives me chills and goosebumps. History and musical magic in its purest form that simply is essential for you to hear.

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