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Skald - Vikings Chant

Vikings Chant
by Chris Hawkins at 10 December 2018, 5:06 AM

Quorthon must be smiling down at us from Valhalla.  Viking culture has truly proliferated western culture over the last few years as evidenced by the television show as well as various music projects.  Of course, MYRKUR and AMON AMARTH come to mind, but also WARDRUNA, created by members of GORGOROTH to celebrate their heritage by performing in the ancient tradition.  They were lucky enough to have their music featured in the television show which did nothing but help the case for SKALD, the band around which this review is centered.  “Vikings Chant” is the debut from this new group, and they have a profound opportunity to reach the masses in that they are signed to a subsidiary of Universal Music Group.  SKALD began when producer/composer Christophe Voisin-Boisvinet met a trio of singers who not only had extraordinarily unique sounding voices but also performed many ancient instruments of Viking culture.  This is not a Metal record, but those with an open mind and expansive imagination will truly find it to be an uncommonly rare experience, a peak at long ago through modern technology.

Enn Atti Loki Fleiri Born” serves as the introduction to the album as it opens the ensuing ceremony by gently lighting the candles and incense of tradition.  The first full song is “Run” which begins with a beautifully articulated guitar riff and is soon joined by tribal drums.  Female vocals arrive enhancing the reverent atmosphere.  The air is intoxicating and it is easy to imagine falling into a trance-like state.  “Niu,” the fourth track, is enchanting with a softly-plucked finger style guitar playing the melody.  Female vocals become the lead to a round of sorts that is soon joined by a male chorus.  The emphasis is clearly on atmosphere as the gentle sound of splashing water accentuates the mood.

Gleipnir,” the sixth track, is a more upbeat selection with furiously played tribal drums and male vocals.  The male vocals create a mystical atmosphere through imaginative harmonies with female vocals soon joining to enhance the music.  There is a protracted feeling of the surreal, of words and music channeled through spiritual means.  The following track, “Krakumal,” is based upon a simple melody performed by a bowed instrument and accompanied by a solitary male vocal.  Soon, other voices join to enrich the piece.  There is an archaically esoteric vibe created as if the music is the very gateway to the past.  “Ec Man Iotna,” the ninth track, is a compelling a capella track performed by female vocals.  A generously rich texture is formed propagating original melodies and counter-melodies.  One is overcome with a solitary mood, perhaps even sadness and longing.

What is of particular interest is the instrumentation involved in the (re)creation of the ancient music.  In terms of percussion, it is of a tribal nature with drums of varying size which are reinforced by smaller percussion tools such as bones or even antlers.  There is an opulent depth of stringed instruments employed including the lyre, the talharpa, the citole whci is a bowed instrument, and the nyckelharpa also known as a keyed harp.  What is truly special is the multitude of vocal techniques, harsh and soothing, employed by the three singers.  Indeed, their voices are the vocal point of the music, and their interplay coupled with sheer creativity demonstrated cause this to be a recording that is truly special beyond the confines of genre.

It is hopeful for society to know that such a uniquely primordial musical project has an outlet to expose people from all walks of life to their art.  Anyone sharing a fascination for Viking culture or history will truly find this to be a rewarding experience.  Ideally, to be able to light some candles and create whatever personal touch allowing a pensive soul-searching atmosphere is the way to enjoy this experience.  By connecting as such to out past whether through imagination or the metaphysical, we learn that after all, not much has changed for we are all human blessed with traditions and a rich heritage which should be duly honored and revered.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8


4 Star Rating

1. Enn Atti Loki Fleiri Born
2. Run
3. Valfreyjudrapa
4. Niu
5. Fluga
6. Gleipnir
7. Krakumal
8. O Valhalla
9. Ec Man Iotna
10. Yggdrasil
11. Odinn
12. Ginnunga
13. Joga
Christophe Voisin-Boisvinet- Producer/Composer
Justine Galmiche – Vocals/Various Instruments
Pierrick Valence - Vocals/Various Instruments
Mattjö Haussy – Vocals/Various Instruments
Record Label: Decca Records France


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Edited 19 July 2019

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