From the North to the Stars: A Playlist
There are a lot of things associated with the north; the radiant Northern lights, Freyr, the Norse God of fertility and peace that travels through seas with his golden-bristled boar, dead warriors called Einherjar who are brought by Valkyries to Valhalla, and the nine realms unified by the world tree Yggdrasil. A lot of beautiful things come from the north, including various, remarkable music scenes. This mixtape features music writer Ralka Skjerseth’s selection of some of the finest tunes from the Nordics, sincerely brought to you from the north to the stars.
This track is derived from Okkultokrati’s 2014 album Night Jerks, released under Southern Lord. They hail from Oslo, Norway, and play a variety of branches, ranging from d-beat, crust punk, HC punk, sludge metal, and black metal; they’re not afraid to seek a myriad of diverse influences. :Moon Daggers" is strong on crust, d-beat influences, and is all ferocious. Besides Southern Lord, they also have been signed to Fysisk Format.
Here is one of the most renowned tracks from Myrkur’s recent album Mareridt. Myrkur ("darkness" in Icelandic) is a moniker of Amalie Bruun, a Danish musician/multi-instrumentalist who plays atmospheric black metal with folk influences, and is currently signed to Relapse Records. Here you will find an ethereal permanence of shimmering light that radiates both void and hope—intensified by the formidable wave of soothing voice that resembles Valkyries’ singing. Myrkur’s atmosphere is heavily inspired by Nordic nature and myth as a form of devotion to her roots.
Sargeist is a Finnish black metal act that has been around for a pretty long time. It started as Shatraug (of Horna fame)’s solo project before a collective of members joined in. They are strong in OSBM elements and their themes revolve around blasphemy, infernal creatures, and misanthropy. In this track they managed to present a thrashing infernal madness with fast-paced drumbeats and atmospheric growls.
This one happens to be one of my all time favorite pieces from the Swedish punk rock legends KSMB. The band, which grew up in the working class suburbs of Skärholmen and started off in a gymnasium, is short-lived, yet they still successfully managed to capture a melodic 70s vibe and emotional profundity in theor lyrics (drummer Johann Johannson, who writes the lyrics, is also a writer!).
Kvelertak is a renowned six-piece from Stavanger, Norway that mainly incorporates the sounds of black metal, rock and roll, heavy metal, and punk rock. In "Berserkr" they manifested several Norse mythology references in the lyrics; singing about Berserkrs, Valkyries, messengers of Odin, ritual hunt, and so on. This song has a lot to do with the convergence between black metal influenced distortions and 70s heavy metal. They are currently signed to Indie Recordings.
This vibrant and upbeat piece from Honningbarna, a Kristiansand-based punk rock act, is derived from their third studio album Opp De Nye Blanke (2015). I dig their tendency to write political lyrics and their use of Kristiansand dialect in their songs is iconic.
Craft is a Sweden-based black metal band that has been around since 1994 and have been signed to quite an amount of significant record labels, such as Southern Lord, Carnal Records, and Napalm Records. While presenting songs about misanthropy, destruction, and death, their sounds come off as a hybrid between heavy metal and early black metal precursors, such as Burzum and Darkthrone. In this song, they’re telling narrations about an abyss with a serpent soul—the tune itself is pretty much Darkthrone-ish with enraging, belligerent riffs.
Heavy metal act from Oslo, Norway with Graveyard-esque stoner influences, also a bit of doom and blues rock here and there. They’re also keen on making political statements as jokes, calling themselves "Heavy Politically Incorrect Humor Rock". Both this whole album and the song itself happen to be a sort of homage to the renowned Henrik Ibsen, and it’s so wholesome how they dedicated those songs to him!
The Iceland-based JFDR (moniker of Jófríður Ákadóttir of Pascal Pinon, Gangly, and Samaris fame) incorporates elements of dance, classical, folk, and electronic with tranquil vibes cultivating bright lights; it brings you to dream landscapes you’ve never seen before.