Hagalaz' Runedance - _Frigga's Web_
(Hammerheart, 2002)
by: Adam Lineker (8 out of 10)
This work opens with a passage of music called "The Crossing". It's safe to say that some epic metal bands would kill for such emotive vocal harmony as this possesses. I was expecting something similar to Nightwish, which in my book is always a good thing. Forgive me for being mildly disappointed then when I soon realised that this album wasn't folk-influenced metal but Nordic folk music, painting spiritual images of nature myth with a distinctive Northern tone. Which as I soon learned, is also quite a good thing. Prominently featuring tribal drumming, bagpipes, flutes, lyres, harps and a whole host of medieval and folk instruments, Hagalaz' Runedance have created some engrossing landscapes in sound, that at times are both haunting and beautiful. In true style to the characteristics of this kind of music, it is mostly performed entirely in one key. High-register instruments and the vocals carry the melody over a sustained drone; this is essential for capturing the essence of this music. All credit must go to Andrea Nebel Haugen, this music being her creation and passion. She achieves her aims and creates her imagery very successfully as she explores pagan concepts of nature and femininity. Her vocals are truly effective and explore a variety of styles and even languages; from choral polyphony to Dorian yodeling. All of the music is soulfully performed and proves absorbing. Whether this sort of music sounds attractive to the specific listener is something I cannot account for and being unfamiliar to the artists of such a particular sort of music I have nothing to compare this to, except possibly Enya. I think this works, it's definitely rather different to everything else in my record collection. For me, I would give this a solid 8 out of 10 as it is ambitious, emotive and solid in execution, but flawed in the way that there is absolutely no chord progression which means my attention wavers, but then, there isn't meant to be. If this stuff is your thing, this may well deserve full marks. It is, it has to be said, very relaxing.

(article published 1/9/2002)


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