Yggdrasil - Irrbloss 3.5/5
1. Hostmorkrets natt
Things seem to be heating up a little for Yggdrasil, now releasing their 3rd CD in the space of 4 years and the first to feature a fully-rounded line-up that suggests a greater focus on moving forward as a fully-functioning band.
‘Irrbloss’ is the kind of CD you want to hear from a band that you’re a fan of – neither veering off in unexpected directions or stagnating, it carries on their familiar style while at the same time making a few adjustments here and there to ensure there is a freshness to proceedings.
There some more notable uses of traditional instruments in the arrangements, but the most noticeable difference from their previous work is an amping up of flashiness in the performance department – nothing too gaudy, but there is definitely less of a focus on the instruments merely serving the song. 2009’s ‘Vedergällning’ featured only one really prominent instance of lead guitar, something that is exceeded on ‘Irrbloss’ by the end of the first song. New drummer Jacob Blecher seems keen to make an immediate impact too, keeping up the intensity of his predecessors but offering a far more lively presence behind the kit, punctuating his blasting with countless impressive rolls and fills.
What is crucial to this practice of allowing more room for the individual musicians to breathe is that Yggdrasil haven’t lost sight of the core values of their music that made it so enjoyable in the first place. Resolutely an old-school viking/folk metal band, the songs remain aggressive, often meandering and always carrying that majestic aura of grandeur and sorrow. Magnus Wohlfart’s hateful black metal vocals remain right at the forefront, and the maudlin choirs that permeate the CD never feel forced or anything like a shallow attempt at making the music more accessible.
The tweaks to the expected sound come to a head right at the CD’s conclusion, with a final track that comes right out of leftfield. The female vocals that have been part of the backing choirs throughout suddenly take centre stage in an entirely acoustic ballad, something beautiful and fragile compared the viciousness that has preceded it. Scraping violins and a belated appearance from Wohlfart’s resonant clean vocals are all that accompany the song, and the contrast to the multi-layered riffing of the preceding 7 is stark and even a little unsettling.
It probably does fall a little short of ‘Vedergallning’ overall, but ‘Irrbloss’ is another unqualified success for Yggdrasil. Carrying on with little regard for what’s going on around them in the genre they play, they continue to provide music that hits that sweet spot right between elegance and ferocity.
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