"A testament to the power of art to navigate the soul’s depths and emerge tranquil and whole": Nordic folk artist Kati Rán explores feminine themes in Norse mythology on long-awaited second album Sála

Nine years on from her debut, Kati Rán unveils a sublime new vision of Nordic folk and mythology with Sála

Kati Ran Press Shot
(Image: © Ruben Terlouw @Woedans)

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Kati Rán's long-anticipated solo album emerges as a vast musical odyssey that weaves a bewitching array of musical styles into a backdrop for exploring the feminine themes within Norse mythology. 

Building on the epic, oceanic prelude of its 15-minute single, Blodbylgje, Sála’s 13 immersive tracks are underpinned by traditional folk instrumentation, lush choral harmonies and even a rare lava stone marimba, heard on Stone Pillars – a haunting elegy that features vocals from extreme metal icon Gaahl and Napalm Death’s Mitch Harris. 

Kati weaves narratives from threads of ancient lore and raw, personal revelation, heard in the title track and Kólga, a spectral hymn confronting female persecution through the ages. While Dröfn and Dúfa are atmospheric interludes between shifting states of consciousness, Segið Mér and Bára deliver primal jolts with shouted vocals and steady, thudding cadences. 

However, Sála’s most striking moments emerge in its subtle introspection – in the hushed intimacy of Himinglæva’s vocal harmonies, or in Hefring’s mournful drone. Kati’s vocal delivery is a kaleidoscope of emotive forces, shifting from hauntingly ethereal whispers to chants, each modality infusing the album with a vast depth of feeling. 

Despite this variety, there’s a resonant clarity that binds her performances, guiding listeners through its mystical realms. The journey concludes with Sátta, a serene culmination of peace and reconciliation that epitomises Sála’s fragile beauty. 

Recorded in Iceland, Norway and the Netherlands, Sála features contributions from members of various pagan folk bands and the Icelandic female choir Umbra Ensemble, rendering Sála as collaborative as it is transformative. It stands as a fearless spiritual quest – a testament to the power of art to navigate the soul’s depths and emerge tranquil and whole.

Sála is out May 24 via Svart.  

Joe Daly

Hailing from San Diego, California, Joe Daly is an award-winning music journalist with over thirty years experience. Since 2010, Joe has been a regular contributor for Metal Hammer, penning cover features, news stories, album reviews and other content. Joe also writes for Classic Rock, Bass Player, Men’s Health and Outburn magazines. He has served as Music Editor for several online outlets and he has been a contributor for SPIN, the BBC and a frequent guest on several podcasts. When he’s not serenading his neighbours with black metal, Joe enjoys playing hockey, beating on his bass and fawning over his dogs.