It’s been a really good week for me on the “I get to review awesome albums” front. I’m still reeling from Aara’s new release and next week is going to feature some bangers as well. Your boy is truly blessed, and even though you might be looking at this page and saying “oh my god, not another folk album,” please know that Forndom’s Faþir isn’t your average folk album and also, you’re not my real mom and I don’t care. It rules. It’s time for Rainbows in the Dark, featuring the best of all things non-metal and metal-adjacent.
Forndom is solely the work of photographer-turned-musician Ludvig Swärd, who plays all the instruments and writes all the lyrics and music. It’s been a long wait since 2016’s Dauðra Dura, but Ludvig did not spend all that time faffing about. Faþir sees the project picking right back up where it left off, with huge atmosphere and a lot of flavor from traditional instruments and ancient Nordic heritage. To me, this is less of a folk album and more of a soundscape (see, I told you). The instrumentation and songwriting are so cinematic and grandiose it feels less like I’m listening to an album and more like I’m listening to the soundtrack from a TV show or movie about Vikings sailing on a longboat towards some as-yet undiscovered country. Clocking in at 35 minutes, it feels a little on the short side, but that might just be because when I finished this album for the first time, I immediately started it over again, and then again a third time. I find myself wanting more, because these songs are gorgeous and deeply evocative. They do what I love about folk albums that draw heavily on tradition: they take you away and put you out of your own head and allow you to experience the world in a way that is both new and primally familiar. I feel like the best way to appreciate this album is to take it with you somewhere, especially somewhere outdoors. I know as soon as we are all good to safely be out in the world again, I’m going to be hiking with this album a lot.
More so than on Dauðra Dura, Faþir makes use of instruments that add more space to the track. There are more swirling synths and droning strings adding depth and foundation to the sound and even a smattering of atmospheric choral arrangements, like on opening track “Jakten” and lead single “Yggdrasil” and guest vocals by Jayn H. of Darkher which are featured prominently on closer “Hemkomst.” That’s not to say that there isn’t any of the traditional instrumentation that people are going to be looking for. Every song is carried by thumping drums and tracks like “Finnmarken” and “Hel, jag vet mig väntar” feature delicate string melodies and the drone of tagelharpa and hurdy-gurdy. Almost every song is cemented on the album by Swärd’s deeply resonant vocals, carefully layered and arranged in a hypnotic pattern that unlocks something deep within, some yearning for nature and a calling to be freed from the restraints of modern society. It is immediately obvious the passion that Swärd puts into every song, and that passion and emotion is particularly contagious. For those who are looking for more than just atmosphere, I will say that the instrumentation is sparse and the songs tend to blend together rather than stand out, but this is an album that is meant to be listened to in one sitting, and I would go so far as to say that you absolutely should put that thing on repeat and completely lose yourself.
Faþir is definitely more for fans of Wardruna and Heilung than Forêt Endormie or Myrkur, but like Wardruna and Heilung, this is an album that excels at capturing a mood and transporting the listener to a specific time period, far from here and now. I know I definitely appreciate that, and I think regardless of where you’re at right now, it’s never a bad thing to come across a beautiful album that pulls you out of yourself and allows you to reconnect with the world. Faþir is definitely that album.