Singers :Justine Galmiche ( Naraka)
Pierrick Valence (Eirik)
Composer and Machinery Christophe Voisin-Boisvinet
In old Norwegian, the term ‘Skald’ meant a poet or bard blessed with the skills to compose and perform stories about the Gods, heroes, battles and the ultimate valour therein, for their kings or Jarls. This important role was incremental in helping to retain history, create legends, traditions, bolster religious beliefs as well as entertaining children and people of the lands, in a time way before pixels existed. As poetry was a gift handed down from Odin himself, Skalds were hugely revered, if slightly feared by the listeners for fear of them becoming a source of mockery themselves.
This short EP by French Viking folk band ‘Skald’ is a nice honest little snippet into something that feels like it’s in its infancy. This is their fifth release, none of which received any particularly good reports previously and one, in particular, gaining laughable reviews from both critiques and the band themselves… which to be honest I actually find quite admirable and endearing, as laughing at one’s mistakes takes guts. This release seems to go more along with their folkier influences, rather than the bad knock-off early Bathory/ late Darkthrone cheery chord progressions of their earlier releases.
They’ve basically been listening to Wardruna, Heilung and Eivor and decided to go along those hallowed paths, parts of which they do really well. The ancient drumbeats, chanting and soaring female vocals work tremendously, creating their desired atmosphere. The scream of ‘Ragnarok’ at the end of ‘Gleipnir’ feels a little obvious, the synth parts in ‘Odinn’ almost deter you from the primal feel and somewhat bursts the bubble, making me think of sweaty German industrial clubs. The final track ‘Rún’ however is beautiful, though feeling very familiar to Wardruna and Eivors’ ‘Trollabundin’, which is by no means a bad thing and I guess inspiration has to start somewhere.
Overall, it’s an honest recording, with a lot of thought put into the layers, great musicianship with attention to storytelling and history. I shall be waiting to see how they progress, as I think they are meandering their way to where their sound should be.
Review by: Rebekah Ann