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Wolcensmen - Songs Of The Fyrgen (2016) - Review

Band: Wolcensmen
Album title: Songs From The Fyrgen
Release date: 30 November 2016
Label: Deivlforst Records

01. Withershins
02. The Fyre-Bough
03. Sunne
04. Hoofes Upon The Shymmeringe Path
05. 'Neath A Wreath Of Firs
06. The Mon o'Micht
07. Snowfall
08. The Bekens Are Aliht
09. Yerninge

Wolcensmen debut, Songs From The Fyrgen, is something of an epic heathen folk or dark folk album. The music, quite cinematic in execution, brings to mind images of victory parties in old world England, after the defeat of a sworn enemy. It is huge in its delivery, and yet somehow Wolcensmen only consists of one full-time member.

Dan Capp of Wolcensmen is also known for his guitar work in the English black metal band Winterfylleth. Furthermore, Dan Capp has taken on the album art/layout and logos of more than a few artists over the last few years. Yes most frequent recent works have been for the young but already impressive Deivlforst Records, where the Wolcensmen debut, Songs From The Fyrgen was released. Appearing on a guitar solo and the album art last year in Die Mauern Der Nacht by Grimrik, Dan Capp quickly became an integral part in the Deivlforst family. Outside of Deivlforst Dan Capp has worked on the visuals for a handful of Burzum albums, among many other things.

The album art of Songs From The Fyrgen speaks volumes about the content of the music. A runic logo appears on the front cover centered in a dark snowy forest path. The lyrics within are written in a version of old English, giving the album an even more submerging and authentic feel.

Songs From The Fyrgen immediately pulls listeners in, with Capp chanting a few syllables, over a beautiful yet simplistic guitar part. As the opener, "Withershins" moves towards its terminus the track is enshrouded in field recordings of a cold wind gusting. When the next track "The Fyre-Bough" bursts forth from this windy atmosphere, it is exceedingly powerful and drenched in a sense of purpose. As Capp's vocals begin conveying the lyrics for the first time, we are again taken aback by something that is as powerful as it is simple. Capp is not going for the most technical or dynamic takes he can muster. Instead, we hear a musician who knows where his talents lie, and how best to incorporate them. As the album progresses this truth becomes all the more obvious.

Dan Capp may be the sole member of Wolcensmen but he is not left entirely to his own devices here. Capp brings in a number of guest musicians, all of which take the epic beauty of this album to ever greater heights. As "The Fyre-Bough" winds down, a flute plays off against a violin, both recorded using the actual instruments, these are not computer generated instrumentations, they are the real deal, and the album is all the more genuine and exciting for it. While Capp's vocals may remain reasonably simplistic throughout the album, everything is composed in a way that heightens his vocals, allowing them to take on an energy and life, which I can only imagine even surprised Capp himself. A flute coming in while Capp is vocalizing a little chant, allows the music to soar into a high pitched height, which would have been unattainable for most male vocalists, yet it feels like an extension of the vocals as much as a separate instrument.

The heathen nature of the album is the most noticeable on "Sunne" an ode to the sun itself. Sounding like a cross between a battle chant and a religious hymn, "Sunne" is stunning, epic, and breathtaking in its scope and ability to conjure emotions from the listener which almost seem foreign to the modern ear. It is as if Wolcensmen has been able to guide the listener to a time hundreds of years ago, a time before the wave of Christianity hit mainland England.

Dungeon synth heavy-weight Grimrik comes in on a favorite track among the many high points in the album. "'Neath A Wreath Of Firs" starts out with some subdued synths by Grimrik, before Capp jumps in on his trusty acoustic guitar. The two work in harmony to convey a sound that is as modern as it is ancient. At a running time of just over ten minutes "'Neath A Wreath Of Firs" has enough energy and beauty to call the listener back again even as it is coming to a close. Capp's vocals here are some of the best on the album. As the track is quite subdued, Capp's vocals are laid bare for the world to listen. With lyrics like, "Held in slumbre, By erthe and root he is bownd. Restinge under, a wreath of firs all around." Rolling his R's and writing in a distinctly archaic dialect of English, Capp repeatedly reminds the listener of his passion and love for this source material.

Coming in a gorgeous digipak, courtesy of Deivlforst Records, Songs From The Fyrgen is the most ambitious release yet by the label. 500 hand-numbered copies of the Wolcensmen debut are quite a bit higher than the usual limited runs we see with other releases on the label. Yet, it would appear that these are going fast, the label knew a gem when they saw it, and they rolled out the red carpet to make this release as close to perfection as they possibly could.

I don't listen to this sort of music often, in general I don't like this sort of music. Yet, Wolcensmen Songs Of The Fyrgen has managed to steal my heart, with the albums chants often repeating in my head long after the album has come to its close. This doesn't annoy me as it does so often with music I can't get out of my mind, quite the opposite. I can't listen to this enough! I quickly scooped up my own physical copy of the masterpiece before it inevitably is sold-out. I would absolutely recommend that anyone else who has read this far does the same. With a genre-bending release that evokes thoughts of glorious battles, old gods and brotherly kin-ships which are all so far flung from our current lives it is no surprise that Songs Of The Fyrgen has been so well received. Albums like this don't come along everyday, we are looking at a classic in the making.

Written by: Michael
Rating: 10/10