As ambitious projects go this takes some beating.
Commissioned for the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution in 2014, Skuggsjá was intended as a one-off performance, combining the seven members of Nordic spiritualists Wardruna and the five members of prog metallers Enslaved for a show to honour Norway’s rich history.
The former’s range of traditional instruments and vocal techniques complemented the latter’s prog/black metal pelt. The architects of the plan, Wardruna founder Einar Selvik and Enslaved co-founder Ivar Bjørnson realised they had something special, and have committed their offering to disc.
The result is a mesmerising journey through Norway’s past, concocting a dramatic fusion of goat horns, bone flutes, birch bark lure and fiddles with ancient percussion, augmented by Selvik’s deep vocal chants with woven layers of ambient tones and mantras, demonstrated in resplendent form on the album’s title track. Sensitive to the modern-day versus traditional aspect of the two contributing forces, this is essentially an exercise in making the ancestral past sound as intense and evocative as possible.