Certainly, Orphaned Land are now Israel’s biggest heavy metal band. When the five-piece released last album ‘The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR’ in 2010, it seemed like the band were entering an even bigger phase of their careers. If anything, the quintet’s fifth studio album gives us a sense that their popularity could inflate even more in the coming years. Orphaned Land maintain their important message of peace in ‘All Is One’ and convey it with a charismatic multicultural mash-up of beautiful folk instrumentation, concise melodic metal and a grandiose orchestral backing.
Wardruna took us on a profound spiritual journey back to ancient Norse lands with debut album ‘Runaljod – Gap Var Ginnunga’. The Norwegian music collective – comprised of former Gorgoroth members Kvitrafn and Gaahl and completed by Lindy Fay Hella and Hallvard Kveiveland – wanted to make something as pure as the roots of the Yggdrasil tree itself, and it has quite naturally led to the second part of the Runaljod trilogy they began in 2009.
After releasing a near-perfect debut album with ‘Runaljod – Gap Var Ginnunga’, conceptual Norwegian project Wardruna are ready to continue the trilogy with second instalment, ‘Runaljod – Yggdrasil’. Headed by ex-Gorgoroth drummer Kvitrafn and made complete in the studio by his ex-band-mate Gaahl, singer Lindy Fay Hella and hardanger fiddle-player Hallvard Kleiveland, the project take inspiration from the ruins of Norway’s indigenous heritage to create stirring ambient folk music. With the collective now heading to London in October, I found out more from mastermind Kvitrafn on the unique atmospherics and strong Norse concepts that beat at the heart of the band.
The unsavoury departure of Hupogrammos and Sol Faur from Negura Bunget served as quite a blow for fans of the Romanian act in 2009. Allegedly, the duo wished to disband Negura Bunget and thus left when drummer Negru wanted to continue. The resulting collaboration of their exit was Dordeduh.
Dordeduh blossomed as an offshoot of Negura Bunget after members Hupogrammos and Sol Faur had a disagreement with drummer Negru. Formed in 2009, they began working on new material, releasing the short but sweet ‘Valea Omului’ EP a year later. Now, the duo – alongside bassist Flavius Misarăş and drummer Ovidiu Mihăiţă – have finished recording their first full-length record and are hoping to announce a release date soon. Multi-instrumentalist Hupogrammos talks us through the spiritual roots and cultural inspirations of the band.
Let’s face it, when broadly speaking about ‘metal’, ‘avant-garde’ is a term far too easily thrown around. Either self-tagged by bands looking for a hook or lazily prescribed by writers to those with a few (slightly unpredictable) sonic tricks up their sleeve – it’s an exhausted description with a ‘boy who cried wolf’ complex. But when it comes to The Gentlemen’s Club Of A Forest Of Stars, you begin to believe there’s still genuine application for such a prestigious title to be used, especially when experiencing third record ‘A Shadowplay For Yesterdays’.
Already, we’ve had some magnificent efforts from seasoned artists in 2012. But as far as nice surprises go, London’s Straylings are perhaps one of the most pleasant of the year so far.