Here’s one I’ve been looking forward to – bearers of Icelandic epics, Skálmöld. As ever, we have raw, melodic Viking metal. As ever, we have a conceptual take. As ever, we have a brilliant, brilliant album.
The album title translates as “Sorrows” and it’s divided into two halves. The first, “Sagnir” (tales) tells us four stories about tragedy and death. The second, “Svipir” (ghosts) tackles the same four tales from a different perspective. As ever, I wish I had translations of the lyrics or I spoke Icelandic! So I’ll focus on the music.
Simply, it’s superb. Possibly their strongest album since Með vættum of which I am a huge fan. The band have kept their trademark sound – there really isn’t anyone else who sounds like they do – multilayered and brutal yet perfectly melodic. There are few acts who can blend these two aspects so well, and Skálmöld seem to do it effortlessly.
Opener “Ljosid” is almost an overture in terms of style – a bit of everything. Your catchy number comes in next with “Sverdid” and then your face gets ripped off by the breakneck “Brunin”… which still has a bouncy, singalong bridge. The opening half is rounded off by the heavy sounds of “Barnid” with vocals so low in the octave scale that they sound like classic Rammstein.
I found the second half, perhaps appropriately, to be a lot darker than the first. This likely ties in with the “alternative viewpoint” mentioned in the introduction. Again, I need to learn Icelandic! “Skotta” ends with some particularly harsh screams, moreso than I think I’ve heard on one of their songs before and they definitely invoke an image of rather pissed off ghosts and spirits.
“Mori” is interesting in that it brings in some haunting and ethereal female vocals as well as the band’s well-recognised harmonies… but also shreds with the harsh stuff. You can check that one out in the lyric video below.
Sorgir is as good an album as Skálmöld have ever released, and will definitely appeal to existing fans. Newcomers to the sound should definitely give them a listen. If you like this then raid the back catalogue. Skálmöld simply seem to be getting better with age, like a really good piece of fermented shark.
Sorgir is out on October 12th