When I first found out that Ivar Bjornson of Enslaved and Einar Selvik of Wardruna where coming together to create a project I thought it must be some kind of joke. It couldn't possibly be that two of my favorite Nordic musicians of all time had been able to find the time to work together on something. And yet they have, their debut release Skuggsa is a masterful album that covers a breadth of exciting soundscapes and hints at great things to come from a duo who have made a massive mark on Scandinavian music.
Skuggsa leans more heavily on the folk side of things - which is really more or less what I had expected all along. That being said, the record is not without its more black metal moments, with the track Makta og Vaneara (I All Tid) featuring riffs that wouldn't feel out of place on an Enslaved record. That being said - the fusion of ideas here is very tastefully done, and represents both musicians bodies of work nicely. Suffice to say - Skuggsa is really everything I could have wanted from these guys. It's epic in scale and paints clear sonic images of a world that many have forgotten. It allows you to get lost in hyperborean soundscapes and realize that there is absolution even in neverending winter.
As you delve into this record it is hard not to be continually impressed by the level of musicianship represented here. There is so much to pick apart here and the deeper you go the more you find. Skuggsa is a sort of triumph for both of these artists, showing them both at their finest and creating music that reflects the harsh beauty of their homeland. Overwhelming and oftentimes sublime the darkness found within Skuggsa is a blessing in and of itself. Rarely do I find records that are as nicely articulated as this one, ultimately reminding us that the old gods still hold power.
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