To unite black metal with both folk metal as well as orchestral arrangements does sound a little odd at first. Nevertheless, some bands have tried this experiment before. Norwegian Galar, who formed in 2004, are one of them. However, with many of those ´adventurous´ bands, the listening experience is rather mixed. But that´s not the case with the duo M. Kristiansen and A.B. Lauritzen – the brains behind Galar. With their concept album Til Alle Heimsens Endar, they deliver a record of very high quality.
The concept is based on the writings of the Heimskringla by Snorri Sturluson. This collection of sagas is about the old Norwegian kings, to be exact the first five kings of the Yngling dynasty, who ruled the area around the Southern Norwegian Vestfold in the 8th and 9th century. Adequately, all lyrics are in Norwegian. The booklet contains an introduction in English, though, explaining the whole concept.
Altogether, there are nine different instruments on the album (besides the usual suspects like guitar, bass and drums, played by Phobos from Aeternus, they have something like a little orchestra, too; with bassoon, grand piano, violin, viola, cello and contra bass). Luckily, the band completely avoided having synthetically produced sounds and, instead of that, opted to recruit numerous guest musicians. This was definitely worth all the effort. Already the intro, Forspill, which usually is nothing more than a little extra, condemned to only provide some atmospheric foundation, is of the highest quality and scales up the expectations for the next 40 minutes like it is rarely the case with just an intro. And, Galar deliver. Not only the other instrumental tracks (Det Graa Riket and the Outro Etterspiel) are on the same high level, also the regular songs are simply a pleasure to listen to.
That this is the way it is, is, of course, not only because of the unusual instruments but also because of the songwriting. Galar manage to unite Black and Folk metal and orchestration in such a way, that one doesn´t stand in the way of the other. The orchestra and every single instrument in it perfectly blend in with the songs, without ever appearing like a foreign matter. They add to the songs, which wouldn´t have been possible with a simple metal-like instrumentation. And so it almost goes without saying that also far from every orchestration, the songwriting with varying guitar play, solos, changes between screaming, clean and female vocals and dynamic drumming has way more to offer than with most other artists. This goes especially for Grámr, which all the time changes between this typical aggression and quieter, well, almost soft moments and towards the end, becomes unbelievably dramatic with screeching bow instruments.
A successful experiment! Galar have delivered an unbelievably versatile and creative album. For Black Metal purists it might be maybe a bit too progressive, even though the orchestration never appears too overly pompous. Everyone else, who is even the tiniest bit interested in black or folk metal, should not miss out on Til Alle Heimsens Endar.
Til Alle Heimsens Endar
03. Paa Frossen Mark
05. Det Graa Riket
06. Ingen Siger Vart Vunnin
07. Til Alle Heimsens Endar