Garmarna - Forbundet
Season Of Mist
Dark Folk Rock
9 songs ()
Release year: 2020
Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

Before this week I haven’t heard of Swedish folk rock collective Garmarna. I have to say it was my loss, but certainly not my fault. Garmarna started out in the early 90s and secured a pretty solid and eclectic reputation with their interpretation of folk colored by the likes ranging from punk to metal. But then, right after the turn of the century, the band went quiet, so Forbundet is only their second album in the last almost 20 years. Thus, it was hard to know and follow them. After Forbundet, however, it would be my fault if I don’t investigate the band’s discography. Forbundet alone is stunning and definitely worth it.

Folk rock/metal bands are certainly numerous, but with Forbundet Garmarna absolutely won me over with their sound almost immediately. While delivering melodies which are steeped in old Swedish culture, and using authentic instruments to color them, the band uses modern electronics, especially in their rhythm department. As a result, the compositions sound genuine and original, ancient yet contemporary, voluminous and crystal clear as far as production is concerned. Add Emma Hardelin youthful and soulful vocals to complete the picture and the album becomes irresistible. The music on Forbundet is taylor made for the fans of Dannheim or Wardruna, but also an absolute must to be considered for a soundtrack of the Vikings TV series, since it conveys the ancient spirit in a modern cinematographic setting.

Sometimes dark folk albums can get tedious, but not Garmarna on Forbundet. The folk music is often repetitive verse to verse, chorus to chorus, almost because of how these songs came to be. Yet Garmarna manages to insert instrumental morsels and slightly different arrangements throughout, so this never gets boring. Moreover the songs vary in their disposition, while never losing the sense of dark density. Ramunder is an interpretation of the old Danish song which Tyr also covered (with different, more metallic, tempo and different lyrical verses). As this is about blood and brutality, Ramunder has heavier parts. Tva Systrar is lightfooted cosmic maiden, ribbons in her hair, travelling through woods and meadows, under the stars. Dagen Flyr is pulsating with almost a techno or disco beat, practically celebratory, while Sven i Rosengard turns on the measured mystique, recites a classic fratricide Nordic story and has a vocal hook to die for. Ur varlden att ga is acoustic, serene, almost sedate, as if delivered by older folks walking in ginger steps. The earthy Vagskal just smothers along, like a lullaby cello, and conveys the most acute sense of pain, loss and tragedy, only to be followed by almost playful and dancy Lussi Lilla. Avskedet is again more pensive, funeraly and cold, ending the album with a final crystal clear vocal lament Din Grav.

Christopher Juul of Heilund contributes production and Maria Franz guests with vocals, but Heilund themselves is honestly boring in comparison. Myrkur, on the other hand, can use a lesson of what it takes to deliver serious thoughtful art in the genre.

If Season of Mist decided to take a foray into dark folk rock they could not have made a better choice than Garmarna. My homework is now to go and seek those earlier albums. I am sure I will be just as positively surprised.

Killing Songs :
Ramunder, Dagen Flyr, Sven i Rosengard, Vagskal
Alex quoted 92 / 100
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