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Völur – Death Cult Award winner

Death Cult
by Quinten Serna at 01 January 2021, 4:27 PM

Matriarch of utangard and Queen of the Valkyries, Freyja, is counted amongst the heads of the Vanir pantheon in Norse mythology and just as Freyja made Folkvangr her dominion, so too does VÖLUR make a particular niche their own domain as evidenced by their 3rd full length album, Death Cult.

Starting of the 4 track LP is the song, “Inviolate Grove,” which begins in unresolved dissonance from the strings before the drums segue into a grandiose introduction shared between bass, percussion, and strings at a staggering 3 minutes before any voice joins in. The wording of the lyrics has me wondering if the subject in question is on Ériu, Freyja, or of another deity altogether; as well, the detraction which bears a full change within the progression of the song makes me think both in method and mention of the Norse Jötunn, Surtr: “Enthroned was he/The God of ash/With blood of rime/And eyes of gold.” “Dead Moon” is a curious track which segues directly from the preceding song with seamless flow—the song has more of an epic manner of construction to it, more similar to full scale movements one would sooner find in a symphony or rhapsody. The penultimate song, and partial title track, “Freyjan Death Cult,” alludes directly to the Vanir goddess Freyja; the almost whimsical narrative of the strings at the beginning of the song remind me greatly of FRANZ LISZT—though the atonal section reminds me exclusively of PAGANINI—though the askance intro quickly fades and gives rise to the song unhindered which repeats the unhinged motif throughout the main body of progressions. Lastly is the song, “Reverend Queen,” which seems to refer to Frigg rather than Freyja, though depending on who you ask one might say they’re one in the same. Noise and synth commence the track which has a noticeably more distraught progression than any other track on the album; the second movement begins with a chamber music style of atmosphere that is repeated by the instruments prior to a complete and total detraction that eventually leads to the verse. The lyrics to this song particular actually feature the use of a Norse literary device known as a Kenning as, “snake foe’s mother,” or Thor’s mother which is itself clever as the device was predominantly only used in Norse prose and poetry.

The instrument choice is bizarre and far beyond the normal scope of what defines anything adjacent to Metal, though just like TOM WAITS the intensities of the compositions are enough to make them analogue to the genre. The overlaying of violin and strings with one another is used to great effect in a particular manner by which I’ve seldom heard even in the walks of other musical methods and genres; additionally, the pairing of such to drums, vocals, and bass was well enough mixed that the natural tendencies of the acoustic instruments felt that they breathed life into one another in the way that a live big band does, such as an orchestra or a symphony. The instruments captured the tonal elements of each track in great rapport and managed themselves to tell a story adjacent to the lyrics through sheer emphasis of melody.

VÖLOR surprised me in grand measures by creating a soundscape all their own and instilling the cathartic principalities and motifs of Metal within each composition; for anyone partial to Folk Metal, or anyone looking for something of a unique contour, Death Cult, is an album which cannot be afforded dismissal.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

1. Inviolate Grove
2. Dead Moon
3. Freyjan Death Cult
4. Reverend Queen
Lucas Gadke- Bass and Vocals
Justin Ruppel – Drums
Laura Bates – Violin, Vocals and Effects
Record Label: Prophecy Productions


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