Vera : The cooperation between Enslaved guitarist/composer Ivar Bjørnson and Wardruna chieftain Einar Selvik slowly turns into a legendary one. The music on ‘Skuggsjá’ was originally composed by both men to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution. This ethnic piece of music with metal injection was uniquely played live with many guest musicians in September 2014 at the Eidsivablot Festival in Eidsvoll. In 2015 Ivar and Einar were selected as curators of the Roadburn Festival. Consequently the Netherlands got the outlandish première of the live performance of this extensive and captivating piece of art. Absolutely a special and mind-blowing experience!
Thus we are really enchanted that Season Of Mist took the initiative to release this one hour music of pure Scandinavian authenticity on physical disc. You are not only introduced in Scandinavian culture. Knowing the countries of the North, you can be sure that it is not only a folkloristic happening. We also hear a proper amount of metallic heaviness. The authentic instruments – often self crafted by Einar – are relished with the progressive blackened metal of Enslaved. Thus it turned into a stunner for music lovers with an open vision. As footnote in history we like to mention that Selvik contributed to the soundtrack of the popular TV series ‘Vikings’.
In addition to the core duo, we hear Grutle Kjellson on vocals and Cato Bekkevold on drums on the album, both of Enslaved fame. Female singer Lindy-Fay Hella of Wardruna also did any vocals. On folk instruments Ellif Gundersen and Olav L. Mejelva added a zest. ‘Skuggsjá’ means ‘mirror’ or ‘reflection’ in the Norwegian language. The composition is subdivided in ten titles and they take the time to begin introvert and build up tension step by step. Initially we hear authentic instruments, spoken word and choirs. In the third track metal guitars join in. It is solemn, serious and melancholic, but the interaction between different vocal styles gets breathtaking when harmony vocals, proclaiming rhetoric chants and creepy black metal screams go in battle-like conjunction. It ends instrumentally in a dramatic manner. In ‘Tore Hund’ sonorous melancholic vocals and choirs reign, while the fifth track brims with moody ethnic beauty and gives room to greasy guitars in a slow and compelling way. The instrumental ‘Skuggeslatten’ leans on repetitive sounds and has a kind of Slavonic flavour. Guitars take the leading role of the theme and horns give us the apotheosis. Cello is featured in the melancholic and gloomy ‘Kvervandi’ and the momentous low male voice reminds a bit of Empyrium. This slow-paced song includes an epic outburst and is very beautiful. The solemn lead chants and percussion in ‘Vitkispa’ remind us of a ceremony. Later it gets more vigorous with an opulence of vocals. The ninth song has a length of ten minutes, just like the flamboyant title track earlier. This one starts introspective with thoughtful vocals. We hear mellotron and some progressive tendencies pop up. The repetitive melody has again a trance-inducing effect, an emotion that rules in this music. The choirs are really majestic on this album. A sober outro with female vocals and a brief speech occlude our musical journey through the past and present of Norway. Pure beauty we should cherish! Norwegian musicians remain innovative, way beyond the achievements of their so-called progressive brothers.