Last year when Vintersorg released Jordpuls I wasn’t expecting that 15 months later I’d be writing another review of a new Vintersorg record. While Andreas is known for his unusual artistic fecundity, new Vintersorg records have slowed down a lot after the release of the majestic Cosmic Genesis. But earlier this year, Matte Marklund (the guitar player) showed up on the Internetz and said something surprising: there was a new record on the way, hot on the heels of Jordpuls, and it would be called Orkan which means “Hurricane.” In fact, the reason I’m writing this 15 months later is simply because the label wasn’t ready for one 8 months later! But also, more importantly even, that this record is the second of a four part series being based on the classical elements. Jordpuls was earth (and awesome), and Orkan is air—and next? Fire. But, let’s talk about “the now” first.
Starting out the gate with progressive strains “Istid,” the non-linear melodies were what really caught me off guard. But once it gets going, it launches into a fantastic chorus and settles into the keyboard sounds and the drum machine that we all as Vintersorg fans are very comfortable with. Structurally speaking, Orkan pounds through the strains of what we’ve come to expect from Vintersorg in latter days; melodic tracks with progressive bits interspersed and black metal vocals over Mattias’ trem-picked guitars and creative, melodic guitar solos. Under that, the bass tends to bubble along, sometimes sounding a little lost or wandering, but always ultimately adding that needed low end. What Orkan succeeds best at, however, are the epic choruses, which are written to perfection; hooky, fun and often times beautiful. Orkan, unlike its predecessor which many complained about, is also produced perfectly for what the guys are going for here; raw, but balanced and trying to sound as natural as possible when the music is only being produced by two guys.
But Orkan isn’t just a clone of Jordpuls or its predecessor Solens rötter. In fact, it reminds me more of Cosmic Genesis and Ödemarkens son mixed together with Jordpuls. However, it’s hard for me to say it’s better than its predecessor because the sounds are similar with the difference being that Orkan seems almost more inspired and the songwriting is especially beautiful and well-crafted this time around. I fell in love immediately with “Ur stjärnstoft är vi komna” and the mighty “Polarnatten”. Both of these songs are 7 minutes plus and just reel listeners in and create beautiful, epic vocal landscapes, while underpinning the tracks with audial eddys of flute and keyboards whose textures fill out the feel of the songs immensely. The latter even closes out with harmonized, NWoBHM guitars that are fairly novel in the Vintersorg sound. Those two tracks, along with the more subdued closing track “Urvädersfången” are three of the longest tracks Vintersorg has ever produced—the longest since Cosmic Genesis actually and they feel uniquely inspired and thoughtful.
This is not to say that the shorter tracks on the record aren’t also excellent. Title track “Orkan” is epic, reaching back towards Till fjälls era Vintersorg in feel, while “Myren” reminds me a lot of “Klippor och skär” from Jordpuls, starting out with the plucked strings that kind of feel like “In the Hall of the Mountain King”. “Norrskenssyner,” a sequel to Hedniskhjärtads “Norrskensdrömmar” even features Cia Hedmark’s first appearance on a Vintersorg related record in ages. And all these songs are magically magical—just like a Vintersorg record should be, helping to build out the whole and work as an album should. Orkan should be listened to from front to back every time.
So basically, I guess what I’m saying is: once again, you should buy the new Vintersorg record. Orkan continues Andreas and Mattias’ excellent career with some of the best songs they’ve ever produced. While I still feel like some of the keyboard work is a bit busy and that the bass and drums could use other instrumentalists (like Aesgir Mickelsen and Steve Digiorgio), I am so stoked about the future of Vintersorg‘s music. Orkan‘s music is truly as powerful as the gorgeous art on its cover. It has never happened before that someone has the chance to make my Top 10 album list twice, but between Urd and Orkan, Hedlund is working on being the first. Now bring on the fire!