Ten From the Tomb 2/11/19: Pedagogue to pyrrhic manifesto.

TEN FROM THE TOMB is a weekly feature in the form of a themed list devoted to grouping together albums of similar interest that I missed throughout the year 2019. These albums were overlooked for review for any number of reasons with the most common reason being constraints of time. I have a policy of covering 99% of everything I receive in some form, be it mini-review or full-feature, so don’t hesitate to send anything and everything my way.

Here I present a ten album sampler of some of the best neofolk, folk metal and folk influenced releases from late 2018 and early 2019. Consider it a soundtrack to ease the anxious griping and snow-capped desperation of the unprepared heels that surround you. Most of these albums made it here to Ten From the Tomb because I couldn’t manage the time for a long-form review or because I really didn’t have more than a paragraph or two worth of insight beyond banal description. If you’re not into the selection this week, relax! This’ll be back every 7 days with 10 more albums from different styles, genres, themes, etc.

Hey! Don’t dive in thinking this will all be shit just because I am not doing full reviews for these releases! I always have some quality control in mind and looked for expressive, meaningful or just damn heavy releases that hold value without gimmickry or bland plagiarism. This weeks picks come from a poll on the Grizzly Butts Patreon where Patrons voted between genre/theme. I am eternally grateful for the support of readers and appreciate the friendly and positive interactions I’ve had with all thus far. Think my opinions are trash and that I suck? Want to totally tell me off, bro? Click away and let’s all live more sensible lives full of meaningful interactions. I’m too old and bored with people to care.


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Artist Gruntode
Title [Type/Year] Bosque [Full-length/2018]
Rating [4.0/5.0] LISTEN on Spotify!

Getting a flood of stellar releases from Chilean record label Australis Records has really opened my mind to what the country as a whole is producing outside of their infamously dark and heavy death/thrash/black metal environs. Gruntode is essentially an acoustic neofolk band that breaks into these incredible bursts of acoustic death metal, where deep growls and blast beats hulk amidst the otherwise intimate, stripped down acoustic guitar passages. There is no distortion to warm things up, and ‘Bosque’ feels avant-garde and almost coldly atmospheric as a result. A bit of Cadaverous Condition and a bit of October Falls that is so raw and unsettling that I found myself fairly obsessed with it for a few weeks. I really hope they are hard at work on more because the ‘acoustic death folk’ sound is at least unique to my own sensibilities. It doesn’t feel too ‘composed’ or overthought and that lack of pretense gives an ancient, raw feeling that I can definitely recommend.


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Artist Iterum Nata
Title [Type/Year] The Course of Empire [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Tampere, Finland based 60’s psychedelia-oozing folk rock band Iterum Nata will immediately invoke peak Lennon while keeping the listener at the sort of Scandinavian arms-length embrace you’d expect. The album becomes more experimental and worldly as it progresses towards more adventurous sound design though much of ‘The Course of Empire’ felt performative rather than intimate. My own stylistic expectations clouded interest in further listens but, I think this worldly and somewhat dreamy take on classic folk psychedelia pairs well with its theme of death and rebirth. A bit too far out of my own wheelhouse though I think it will have very broad appeal for the 60’s educated.


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Artist Undantagsfolk
Title [Type/Year] Den ondes fingrar [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Having become such a fan of the conceptual and earnest work of Swedish musician Erik GärdeforsGrift I was excited to come across this collaboration with one half of ambient black/folk project NOÊTA, vocalist Elea. This is perhaps the quintessential sort of expression that Nordvis thrives within, a somber tonality with stripped-down yet clever folk instrumentation. Distinctly Swedish in its sentiment and yet harmonized in such a way that the language won’t be a barrier to feeling, ‘Den Ondes Fingrar’ emits melancholy through auld rural folk tales that are lead with Elea‘s emotive voice abreast ethereal compositions for guitar and harmonium. A quiet 9 minutes or so of sorrowful Scandinavian meditation.


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Artist Wolfhorde
Title [Type/Year] Hounds of Perdition [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Fans of classic Moonsorrow and Thyrfing should be heavily biased towards ‘Hounds of Perdition’, the second full-length from Finnish black/folk metal trio Wolfhorde. I am so consistently impressed with curation from Finnish label Inverse Records, who tend to select mature artists and recordings that are ‘growers’ rather than immediate firecrackers; This record can be counted among them. Emerging in the perfect storm of rising folk/black metal and peaking symphonic black metal empiricism Wolfhorde have been alive in concept since 2000 but their activity came into greater gear around 2010. I particularly love the keyboard work here, it doesn’t quite pull you in with big hooks but they do recall the band I’d mentioned earlier in such a way that ‘Hounds of Perdition’ held my interest enough to dig into the albums theme. Their plod through a dead, iced over Earth and apocalyptic dark fantasy is ‘campy’ in the tradition of the best era of Scandinavian folk metal. The guitar tone is a little too modern and bouncy for me, and recalled Catamenia where I’d rather hear something closer to ‘Verisäkeet’ to match the keyboard work but otherwise I enjoyed the style of this release.


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Artist Murmur
Title [Type/Year] The Boundless Black [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [2.75/5.0] LISTEN on Spotify!

Sporting cover artwork from Jacob Bannon (Converge) the debut from this dark/neofolk duo comprised of Peter Morcey (100 Demons, Forced Reality) and Ryan White (Call It Arson, Jagged Visions) might initially gather interest from the ‘wrong’ demographic and perhaps benevolently open doors for hardcore fans but, the more established neofolk crowd will most likely be the most appropriate fit. Murmur is successful in the sense that their harmonies are cleanly presented and generally evocative of modern US folk music though I found the vocal performances extremely repetitive in terms of tonality. It does remind me a bit of house parties in Portland when bands like Staind were very popular, and I don’t mean that as a dig so much as it compares a bit ’emptily’ with the more heritage-infused works of European folk, or perhaps the earnest grime of a fellow like Austin Lunn. The intentions of the music appear a bit more commercial than I was expecting and the compositions are simplified to the point of ‘teen’ demographic soundtrack apropos, and “The Fall of Summer” feels like a bad Christian folk song, so I can’t give a great recommendation for it but, as always I’d say figure the musical appeal on your own terms.


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Artist Conny Ochs
Title [Type/Year] Doom Folk [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Inspired by the existential realists of American folk music and sounding like Mark Lanegan with 90’s rejuvenated vocal cords, Conny Ochs is perhaps much more substantial as a songwriter than you’d expect. ‘Doom Folk’ comes as the fourth solo album from the artist and builds upon the remarkable growth that’d sparked beyond his collaborations with doom/heavy rock legend Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich (St. Vitus, The Obsessed, etc.). Ochs is not necessarily as conceptually focused as say Tom Waits in the mid-80’s nor is he has smarmy as early Chris Cornell solo efforts but he does a remarkable job channeling several decades of influence into a record that avoids the triteness that often comes with accessible folk singer/songwriter cliche. Not as darkly ominous or raw as ‘Spirit Bound Flesh’ but still humbly stark in his realism, Ochs is at his best at his most bare; ‘Doom Folk’ is largely carried by moments where his voice creaks with stoned-but-controlled Morrison-isms and intentional Townes Van Zandt-esque subtlety. Though I wanted a bit more ‘doom’ and changes of pace in the full listen this is a fine general showcase for Ochs voice and I felt his prose was substantive throughout.

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Artist Esben and the Witch
Title [Type/Year] Nowhere [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Around the midway point of 2018 I’d gotten overwhelmed by the post-rock/post-metal spectrum of music and missed out on a few poignant points of interest along the way. Now Berlin, Germany based trio Esben and the Witch were among those overlooked as most journalists seemed to agree not much had changed since ‘A New Nature’ (2014) had ushered in a darker post-rock/shoegazing sound. I tend to agree but I felt it strange to see Anna von Hausswolff praised so much more highly in the same breath. This kinda breaks out of the folk-related theme of this list a bit, but I think the crossover between neofolk and post-rock fandom will find a lot to like in this bands general discography. As with all post-rock I find myself searching for memorable songwriting beyond stylized performances but ‘Nowhere’ should fit in with the theme of this weeks list.


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Artist Saiva
Title [Type/Year] Finnmarkens folk [Remaster/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

This digital remastering of Swedish black/folk metal project Saiva‘s debut not only give a reasonable boost in quality but doubles the original EP’s length by including two new tracks. ‘Finnmarkens folk’ refers to the far north of the Norwegian mainland, home to the Sámi people. When I’d first heard this EP second hand a few years ago I’d not known how limited its original run was at around 200 copies and it is a nice bonus to not only relive the experience but gain two equally majestic black/folk songs. The melodic core of “Höst” is quite beautiful in its blend of Scandinavian black/folk traditions alongside an atmospheric black metal feeling and I think it’ll still be the main draw of this first bout of Saiva. “Strofer ur ett fjärran skogsland”, one of the new bonus tracks, is a nearly fifteen minute epic with harmonized vocal work that reminds me of Falkenbach in the best way, though obviously far more modern and with different heritage informing the melody. This is a fantastic introduction to this project and perhaps a satisfyingly bare look at the ethos and reverence of musician Andreas Petterson (Stilla, ex-Armagedda).


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Artist Janne Westerlund
Title [Type/Year] Bell [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] PREVIEW on YouTube! | BUY from Ektro!

Accompanied by his bandmates in Plain Ride when appropriate, this self-exorcism of Finnish musician Janne Westerlund (Circle, Pharaoh Overlord) appears to have expressed itself by will of what’d possess him against his will during an intended sabbatical from music in 2017. Whereas ‘There’s a Passage’ (2017) almost appeared as a celebration of pain ‘Bell’ expresses as performative Waits or Dylan-esque class amidst the nudity of obsessive thoughts. There is an undercurrent, well… an overt feeling of dark Americana in Westerlund‘s cadence and jangling accompaniment. The first single (video link above) “Stranger by the Water” is a peak built up to, a dark and haunting bit of prose that comes without a smirk. ‘Bell’ thrives on repeat in the middle of the night and should serve you well if you are entrenched in Winters calm desperation. Westerlund‘s fourth solo album comes as a surprise to me personally as I’d only skimmed through his discography previous as I tackled Circle‘s general surroundings. It is the sort of thing that I don’t feel qualified to analyze yet, it is a pure body high as an experience.


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Artist Rome
Title [Type/Year] Le Ceneri di Heliodoro [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Like so many others who’d fallen in love with Rome‘s blend of martial industrial and neofolk with ‘Nera’ (2006) and perhaps the general peak/turning point of ‘Flowers From Exile’ (2009) that love affair would dry up. “Who Only Europe Knows” weirdly reminds me of New Model Army and I’d only wished he’d have kept that up a bit. Although I don’t think Rome has been for my own taste in the last decade, the majority of ‘Le Ceneri di Heliodoro’ is remarkably political and inspired. There is a bold humanist perspective here that is very on message for the project, I only wish he’d venture out of his comfort level when it comes to instrumentation.


Did I miss your favorite 2018/2019 album? Send me an e-mail and tell me about it. It is always worthwhile to speak up for the lesser known stuff. Please remember you can contribute to my Patreon @ only $1 USD per month ($12 a year) to help keep me in front of the computer writing about metal. Thanks.

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