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Myrkvedr – Gengångare

Myrkvedr
Gengångare
by Gary Hernandez at 23 October 2021, 5:40 PM

A lot can happen in a decade, especially in the metal scene. Bands form, disperse, and then reform into new bands; subgenres emerge, splinter, and morph into even more subgenres — it’s an ever-changing landscape. Case in point is Viking Metal band, MYRKVEDR. The band originally formed in January 2010 in Gothenburg, Sweden. They released a demo in 2011 and followed up in 2013 with their debut full-length album, “Sons of Muspell.” Despite significant internal struggles the band managed to put out an EP in 2015, “Tvenne Korpar.” Sadly, in 2017, one of the original members, Rok, passed away and it seemed the band was permanently dissolved. 2020, however, brought a lot of surprises — One of which was the rebirth of MYRKVEDR. As they say, never say never.  On July 19, 2021, MYRKVEDR released their sophomore full-length album, “Gengångare.”

I should say right from the beginning that I’m not a huge fan of Viking Metal or even Folk Metal. From my experience, it tends to either fall into pirate shanties or steer off into ambient field recordings mixed with accordions and two-stringed instruments made of bone. And if that’s your thing, more power to you. So, I had some trepidation when I saw that “Gengångare” comprises 11 tracks and spans over 52 minutes of playtime. Thankfully, MYRKVEDR doesn’t churn out your typical Viking/Folk metal, theirs includes a wide range of styles and is less about performative rituals and more about riffs. There are elements of Black, Doom, and even Prog throughout, which some may find distracting, but I found refreshing. For conventional Folk metal fans, there are some familiar elements such as atmospheric flourishes and traditional instrumentation, but more as accents than as center stage. With that said, my personal list of standout tracks include: “Nifelheims vindar,” “Gengångare,” “Cerdic,” and “Children of the Frost.”

Also refreshing is the band's take on traditional Norse tropes. Thematically the 11 tracks center on locations and figures from Norse mythology — the Well of Uror to the winds of Nifelheims to the world serpent and more. They then introduce into these contexts a wandering persona, sometimes in a literal sense and sometimes metaphorically. I should note that Gengångare is a Swedish word meaning “wraith.” In promo materials the band states “it is a being created from a severely unjust death where the unjust deed itself holds the vengeful spirit in this world . . . until the deed has been corrected, spreading malice and spite til it’s done.” The wraith, then, becomes the recurring thread through each narrative. That wraith can be seen as a distinct entity, but it can also symbolize us as modern individuals interacting with the conflicts of today’s world.


“Gengångare” marks a strong comeback for MYRKVEDR. Like the wraiths they sing about, it seems they have some unfinished work to attend to. Instead of brandishing swords and shields, however, the metal they’re rendering is of the sonic type and instead of battlefields, it’s live performances. Well worth a listen.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1.   Intro (Nordisk vrede)
2.   Nifelheims vindar
3.   Urdarbrunnr
4.   Sindres saga Jörmungandr
5.   Cerdic
6.   Mossdrotten
7.   Gengångare
8.   Gråben
9.   Children of Frost
10. Dellings drapa
11. Sprit kött & lätta kvinns
Lineup:
Askebloss – Bass, backing vocals
Thurisaz – Drums, percussion
Hagal – Vocals, guitars, other
Record Label: Two Side Moon Promotions
     


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Edited 27 November 2021
 

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