You’ve got to hand it to Andreas Hedlund, principal protagonist and driving force behind Vintersorg– if there’s a moment when he stopped creating music over the past decade, then I missed it. “Jordpuls”, the latest release from the creative unit he runs with Matthias Markland is another exposition, entirely in Swedish, of man’s relationship with nature, cosmology and metaphysics, through the medium of folk metal.
If you’re still with me after that introduction then great because, honestly, there is so much that is going on here that it’s difficult to know where to start. Someone once said to me that listening to Vintersorg was what might have happened if Jethro Tull had met Bathory and decided to form a supergroup. I’m not entirely sure that does either band any proper justice but you get the idea- at least of the starting point for the complex musical and lyrical ideas on display here. Vintersorg don’t have the eerieness of Bathory but they do have the same relentless driving power; they do, though, share Tull’s affection for nature and much of the record is a lamentation on earthly matters.
‘Till Danet Av Forsar Och Fall’ is a pretty decent example of what I’m talking about- harmonious lyricism coupled with some serious prog metal- at times it’s reminiscent of mid period Opeth. There’s a genuine heartfelt undercurrent to the vocals and, thanks to a lovely production, you are acutely aware of all the ideas at work as well as the serious diverse musicianship- there’s flute, and, yes, xylophone in amongst the de rigeur drums and guitar parts: it’s all- well, lovely, actually.
‘Palissader‘s intro sounds like an extract from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite before a more straightforward prog rock track emerges, complete with perfunctory (albeit highly effective) death growls. Its call and response vocal is has an infectious singalong quality wherein you’re swept along on its musical-ahem-waves. ‘Varldsalltets Fanfar‘ and ‘Eld Och Lagor’ explore similar artistic environs, each with consistent success.
There are plenty of ideas flying around “Jordpuls” and even though it’s sung entirely in Swedish, it’s often pretty easy to work out what they are going on about- which is a lot more than you can say for certain bands who “sing” in English- yes, you at the back, I am talking about you. Those familiar with Vintersorg and their artistic vision will probably not find anything radically new here but for those looking for an entry point, “Jorpuls” is an evocative, challenging and often thrilling place to start.