Thus I reach my 18th and last article of the year, my personal review of 2017.
Best New Album:
Verity by Nokturnal Mortum, hands down. I’ve got nothing much to add to what I’ve previously said but I think that this album and everything that surrounds it from my personal point of view had a decisive impact on me. I admit it’s been pretty difficult for me to immerse myself in other albums afterwards.
Best New Band I Discovered:
That’s a tough one. Just like many people, I can’t determine just one band as the best from all those I discovered this year. So I’ll proceed from lighter to heavier.
Eivør. One of my favourite souvenirs from the Faroe Islands are the CDs I bought in the lovely record shop in Torshavn called Tutl. I spent almost all my money buying three of her albums as well as Týr‘s Terji Skibenaes‘ solo project and Hamradum‘s album.
And yet I keep listening to only one: Slør. As you can guess I’m quite far from being into pop music but I feel this album is different. Not so pop-ish maybe, I don’t know. There are great songs in there but no “hit songs” strictly speaking, there is a real work on the atmosphere be it through songs as well as the aesthetic of the videos. My favorite for this might be “Í Tokuni”. Other tracks do very well too like “Brotin“, “Verð Mín” and of course the famous “Trøllabundin“. The last one apparently comes from her third eponymous album released in 2004. The one on Slør is a different version and I must say it is the one I prefer.
When “coming back” from my trip, I went by Zaragoza to attend the Folk Fest Pilar and the Cuélebre show. The few I had previously listened by them were interesting so I was really looking forward to see how they were in concert.
And they’re very good! Their set and stage appearance were so well proven that I was surprised that their album Oinos, which I proudly bought after the show like any self-respecting music lover, was at the time their only and first one, released in 2014! The new one, Anamas, was released on the 21st of December this year.
And then comes Heilung. I discovered them with the song “Alfadhirhaiti” which immediately pleased me since I’m susceptible to the musical experiments of shamanism and all the work related to it. The tribal and warrior sides are an integral part of their concept. They released their first album Ofnir back in 2015 but started performing concerts this summer, at the German Castelfest in particular. As for me, just watching one of these videos like “Krigsgaldr” was a pretty intense experience. Not only did it sound awesome, it was also visually impressive. It must really be something to actually see it live. I highly recommend you to give them a listen. The music will speak better than my writing.
After all this crazy one-of-a-kind stuff, I’d like to draw your attention to a classic; Falkenbach. It is a Icelandic-Germanic one man band, one of the first to have mixed folkloric themes (more precisely the Eddas, the Icelandic pagan poetic books) with metal.
While I already knew one or two songs from his last album Asa, Tiurida is the one that affected me the most. Although it was released in 2011, it still sounds like some old-school metal and the acoustic elements, the arrangements and the prevailing clean voice give a feeling of ancient. Not in a raw way like Heilung does. It has its’ own charm. According to the interviews I read, I think it could partially be due to the very low presence of any external source of inspiration and influence. It could quite simply be summarized to a man living in his cave and not wanting to leave it but at the same time, there could not be a better way to guarantee all the genuineness there is through his music. This is why I think every person who loves folk and pagan metal should know at least one song by Falkenbach or even better, have one of his albums in their collection.
Honorable mention: Sanatana. The side project of Jurgis (Nokturnal Mortum, Khors) is going to be part of a global conceptual project called AtmaVidya along with the theatre troup Natavara and a fire show, all of this in honour of the Vedic culture. Of course, it will see the light of the day in Kiev (Ukraine) but I hope they’ll release parts of their show.
Best Live Show:
The 4th of April more precisely, the “Into the Forest” tour came to Bordeaux with Trobar de Morte. I read my live report again and I have nothing to change about it. The same feeling of satisfaction is still here, mixed with some cozy nostalgia. With hindsight, what I really liked about this concert is that there was nothing bombastic at all. And this, this kind of soothing genuineness, does a lot of good.
Best Thing That Happened:
Joining the Moshville Times, of course! And more importantly: meeting my new pals Iain and Aidan at a pirate metal show in Glasgow and being given the webzine t-shirt which, from my point of view, stands for my official induction to the webzine’s team. I can’t wait to meet more members of the crew!
Worst Thing That Happened:
The cancellation and end of the Ragnard Rock Festival.
I don’t like to think about it. Or more precisely about the day it happened and the massive mayhem that followed almost all the year long. Nothing prevented good things from happening at this moment, though. It even made some experiences even more intense and incredible. I saw the backstages and learnt more about the band of a former “festival colleague”, No More Mud. I had an awesome day with my Belarusian friends of Znich fooling around in Lyon, meeting new people and places like the Rock’N’Eat to whom I’m thankful for making it all happen. Thanks. A. Lot.
But let’s face it, it’s been very tough morally and I’m sorry for this. It was hard to go through that disgraceful hype in which a lot of people changed sides and bit the hand that fed them but that’s how I learnt something crucial. In those kind of moments, focus on what and who really stands the test of time.
It makes me think that Tengger Cavalry has always been pretty unlucky with this festival. The first time in 2016, they couldn’t come because of the visas and this year they had them but the fest was cancelled. And now they are going through a legal dispute with their former label. Really sad news.
Best Interview I Did This Year:
Heri Joensen of Týr. First reason, the settings. It was the first time I was in the Faroe Islands, during a long trip on my own so it gave a certain charm to this experience. Also, I had the chance to be in the home studio and see the creative process, the band working on the next album. By the way, here’s a little anecdote following the interview.
Viktorie Surmøvá, Heri’s girlfiend, was also here to work on her stuff. We were both about to melt in that overheated studio and I admit I didn’t bother removing layers since my friend was going to pick me up soon. Eventually she took the brave initiative to go open the window and as she was struggling, she simply asked how to do it. The answer was just as simple: the hosts didn’t know, since they’d never opened the window once. So if you ever get the opportunity to visit the Faroe Islands, you will know that overheated houses are a thing up there and that you better undress quickly if you don’t want to soak your clothes a second time. Them weird islanders.
Most Looking Forward To In 2018:
When it comes to concerts, I admit I don’t have many planned so far. In February I will finally see Arkona in Paris and next will be Nokturnal Mortum in the best settings ever (or at least a lot better than some festival in Rhône-Alpes around this same period): the Manoir Pub in Saint Maurice, Switzerland. And then there will be the Ragnard Reborn Nove Kolo Fest in Kharkov which I really hope to attend.
Although I’m not entirely convinced by the upcoming albums of Korpiklaani and Arkona so far, I’m definitely more positive about Týr‘s one. Heri’s going to add a few harsh vocal parts as he showed in this video and I really have a good feeling about it. I read that some people are not so comfortable with this idea but what I like about this band is that whenever they decide to do something new, they always act with moderation. So no. No risk that they go full growling overnight. Also, as mentioned in the interview, the band has a lot more control and overview on their upcoming album and I’m sure it will help a lot. Or maybe not. Anyways, time for the mashup: since they did a few covers in their two last albums, I think it would be awesome if they do one of Falkenbach and they would absolutely have abilities for this… just saying.
For the rest, I expect surprises. The best is yet to come.
Here’s our YouTube playlist featuring bands from all of our 2017 roundups…