Rainbows in the Dark:  Wardruna — “Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven”

A perfect offering for Earth Day, Norse legends Wardruna have released a majestic two-part album titled KvitravnFirst Flight of the White Raven.  The first 11 songs are a re-release of Kvitravn which debuted in 2021 and scored numerous international chart entries, while the remaining 13 songs are live recordings consisting of new songs from Kvitravn as well as old favorites from across the band’s discography.  Everything fans enjoy about Wardruna is present here including a use of traditional and historical instruments such as Kravik-lyre, Trossingen-lyre, Taglharpa, Sootharp, Langeleik, Crwth, Goat-horn, Lur, Bronze-lur, flute, and Moraharpa.  This album also features guest vocals by a small group of prominent traditional singers, elevating the compositions’ worldly and historical feel while adding a dynamic beauty.  With lyrical themes and matching atmospheric elements centering on Northern sorcery, spirit-animals, shadows, nature and animism, the wisdom and meanings of certain myths, various Norse spiritual concepts, Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven is a deep and prolific artistic release capturing the splendor of Northern nature and culture.

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Rainbows in the Dark: Sivyj Yar — “Golden Threads”

It sure has been a while since we’ve done one of these, huh?  To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to be writing this column when I picked up the promo for the newest release from St. Petersburg’s Sivyj Yar.  The Russian one-piece came on my radar quite some time ago because of their unique, delicate and highly melodic brand of folksy black metal.  When I saw the name on our list, I knew I had to snag it, but Golden Threads has turned out to be pretty far from what I had originally anticipated, in all the best ways.

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Rainbows in the Dark: Crooked Mouth and Headstone Brigade — “Crooked Headstone”

If you know me at this point, you might know that I love collaboration albums.  Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin’s official collaboration was one of my favorite releases of last year, as was Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle’s series of joint releases, and anytime The Body releases a collaboration album with just about anyone, I buy it sight unseen.  There’s something that is just so interesting about when two projects come together to make an end product that is more than the sum of their parts.  Enter Crooked Mouth and Headstone Brigade and their aptly titled collaborative release Crooked Headstone.

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Rainbows in the Dark: Wÿntër Ärvń — “Abysses”

Let’s do a little word association.  When someone shouts “90’s black metal” at the top of their lungs at you, what are the first things that come to mind?  Satanism, for sure.  Certainly minimalistic production values, dark lyrics and dense atmosphere.  How about acoustic guitars, clarinet and bouzouki?  No?  Well, maybe you should start associating those things more strongly.  Wÿntër Ärvń, the French neofolk one-man project turned duo, are back with their second release Abysses, and on it they take everything that you would expect from classic second wave black metal and turn it completely on its head.

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Rainbows in the Dark: Wudewuse — “Northern Gothic”

I think what we can all agree on is that there just aren’t enough troubadours in the world today.  At what point did we, as a society, decide that travelling minstrels weren’t cool or acceptable anymore?  Why aren’t there entertainers regaling me and my compatriots with song and merriment as we feast and dance?  If this is something that is causing stress in your life, fear not.  Wudewuse, the forest boys themselves, are back with Northern Gothic, a celebration of the nature and the landscape of Northern Norway, old school rock, deep and contemplative moods, and the bardic spirit.

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