I Nordens Rike
Released: n/a, Independent
Reviewer: Night of the Realm
My first exposure to Yggdrasil came with the Metal-Rules.com Vol. 1 compilation with their track “Gryningstid.” Though an edited version of the full track appearing on I NORDENS RIKE, Yggdrasil’s second demo, what I heard on the compilation was enough to hook me on the band. Luckily, I did not have to wait long for the demo as I NORDENS RIKE was the surprise inclusion in my “care package” of albums from EvilG for the month of May. Thanks G!
Hailing from Sweden, Yggdrasil play an interesting mix of doomy, atmospheric folk metal. Each of the 6 songs on this 35 minute demo offers something a little bit different, with bands such asVintersorg, Otyg, Agalloch, and Storm as obvious influences. Yggdrasil is a very young band, forming a mere 2 years ago. Not only is the band young, but so are the members – not one of the three young fellows that form Yggdrasil is over 19 years old!
The demo leads off with the title track, a nine-minute epic piece. The first half of the track is slow in tempo, incorporating clean acoustic passages, some clean soloing as well as heavy, doomy riffs. The atmosphere of this track is accentuated by a mixture of growl and clean vox, the latter droning on in a low hum. About halfway through, the track explodes with an unexpected fury of relentless drums over which the dominant riff is accelerated and mingled with ripping lead work – a very nice touch indeed! The track drops in tempo for the last 90 seconds, but finishes on a heavier note than the beginning.
Here in my review, I will skip the next 4 tracks (I promise I’ll return to them later) to discuss the incredible closing track. “Gryningstid,” the song that hooked me initially, is here in full force, all 10 minuts of it. Charging straight in with an atmospheric riff passage, reminiscent of Agalloch’s work on their PALE FOLKLORE album, guitarist Magnus Wohlfart breaks into an absolutely killer extended melodic lead (someone paid attention in Maiden 301..heh). Quickly changing again in Vintersorg-ish fashion to a clean vocal chorus complete with mouth harp (Hell yeah!), both played by Magnus. The contrast of clean and growled vocals is very striking here. The growls provided here and throughout the album by bassist Gustaf Hagel are done in a deep, though throaty style ranging from harsh and forceful, to almost whisper-like where indicated. A middle atmospheric passage brings us to some choppy riffing, followed by more atmosphere and chorus, before riding the initial theme out. It is no surprise why Yggdrasil picked this track to appear on the Metal-Rules.com compilation as it is absolutely brilliant! The heaviness, the melody, the atmosphere all come together perfectly in this track.
Ok, back to the middle of the album. We have “Frid,” a song very much in the Storm/Otyg fashion with flute and clean vocals, with the inclusion of some lovely female guest vocals. “Kvällning över Trolska Landskap” is one of the heavy tracks on the album, and is also darker and doomier than the others. Still, it has a strong anthemic feeling to it and an interesting combination of a clean and growled refrain. “Vinter” somewhat blends the previous two tracks. Here, the clean and female vocals return in a track that is another heavy folk anthem. “Midnatt” bridges “Vinter” with the incredible closer “Gryningstid.”
I normally have a hard time assigning ratings to demos and EPs, but I have no issues with assigning Yggdrasil this score. These young musicians have both the talent and the drive to create some great music here. I love the sound that Yggdrasil have laid down on I NORDENS RIKE; the atmosphere, heaviness, and musicianship is quite balanced with the band’s strong roots in Scandanavian folk music. Since their first demo, KVALLNING, released in 2001, has cultivated the heavier side of their music, and I hope that they continue to develop their sound in the nature of the opening closing tracks. I highly recommend that all fans of epic, atmospheric, and folk metal check out this band.