Album: Dansen låter fra graven åter
Release Date: 30th October 2019
Record Label: Unsigned
I have to start this review with a big apology to Elvarhøi. I initially received this EPK at the beginning of October and it got left in my inbox waiting for me to open properly. Finally, a mere three months after the release, I have finally got around to listen to it.
A little (read: long) while ago I created a post showcasing some interesting bands from Norway, and I did mention in that post that I would love to hear more from Elvarhøi, and well, I got my wish! Sadly for me being an ignorant monolingual Englishwoman, I have no real idea whether there is any kind of theme to this album, but it feels like there should be from the instrumental as a whole.
Bruremarsj is an instrumental track, which begins predominantly with the traditional instruments, particularly strings. There’s a slow build up which introduces the guitar, and then flutes. What we end up with is a good mix of traditional and neo instruments, with a good balance, and neither one overpowering the other. Hva er en konge? also has a more traditional start, but the metal comes in a lot sooner. The flutes in the intro definitely remind me of Grimner. Overall the track is mid-tempo and sounds like exactly the kind of thing I’d want to listen to whilst walking in nature. There are group vocals (which I am always a fan of), and there’s even a section which has a stoner/doom vibe about it, before it gets heavier and more jiggy and ready for headbanging.
Kjenningsvisa continues the theme of a traditional start with the metal entering a little further in. It’s a track I could get lost in, with a good mix of metal and folk, with the folk in this track taking the front seat a little more. In the more metal sections of the track, the flute is still heard and blends in well with the rest of the mix. Next is a calm and simple acoustic track, Det grå riket, which uses the simplicity of just a guitar and voice.
Vertshuset Dovregubben breaks the norm a little with this album and starts with both strings and drums, and we get a build up to all of the instruments. There are some solo vocal sections, and some instrumentals which sounds like the start of a traditional dance. The song calms right down at the end of the track, ending with a choral vocal, without any other instruments. I do love group vocals on their own. Trolljuvshallingen definitely lives up to the “Troll” part of its title. There are the telltale rhythms and guitars sounds that we would now associate with “troll” metal. This is probably the most energetic track of the album. It’s instrumental and a good track to have a jig to.
Penultimate track Tilbake til intet is a more brooding, atmospheric track. There’s definitely a feel of tranquillity at the start, but the appearance of the guitar which sounds like it would fit right into an atmospheric black metal band, brings an added depth to the instrumental. In this track, the traditional instruments are more predominant. Kalde netter breaks the norm and starts with predominantly neo instruments and is mid-tempo once again. As the track moves along we get a bit of spoken word with a gentle guitar and drum accompaniment. When the track builds back up we get quite a nice funky rhythm from the neo instruments, and the traditional instruments carry the main melody. The track ends with flute on its own, a poignant ending for an album so well balanced between the old and new.
I think this album will be a grower for me. I have a disadvantage that I cannot understand Norwegian, and that is obviously a problem, but I do love many bands who sing in their native languages such as Grimner (Sweden), and Heidevolk (The Netherlands). But what makes these bands so great is that they can convey the meaning and emotion of the lyrics through the instrumental and tone of the vocals. For me, Elvarhøi just doesn’t quite reach that bar yet. I can hear the emotion in most of the instrumental, but the vocals (although excellently executed in terms of clarity and tune), do not quite convey the stories of the songs as well.
However, this album is only a debut, and I hope that Elvarhøi can now push even further and create something even more magical to listen to in the future.
Buy Elvarhøi music and merch: https://elvarhoi.bandcamp.com/
Listen to Elvarhøi on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/0lfN0nltKrMVZ1ePNEKTv7
Follow Elvarhøi on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elvarhoi/
Elvarhøi website: http://elvarhoi.com/