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Storm was a short-lived folk metal supergroup that existed in the early 1990’s, releasing a single full-length recording in 1995 before breaking up shortly afterward. The group featured an impressive lineup that consisted of Gylve “Fenriz” Nagell of Darkthrone on drums and vocals, Sigurd “Satyr” Wongraven of Satyricon on vocals and all other instruments, and Kari Rueslåtten, former vocalist of The 3rd and the Mortal, providing female vocals. Nordavind, the sole result of this collaboration, consists of a mix of original material and metal versions of traditional Norwegian folk songs. While the vocal performance on the album is certainly praiseworthy, unfortunately Nordavind as a whole does not live up to the expectations set by such a talented lineup. The music on the album can be best described as generic folk metal that does little to push the boundaries of the genre or distinguish itself from the countless other folk metal albums released in the mid-1990’s. There is a noted lack of folk instrumentation on the album, with the musical emphasis being placed instead on electric guitars and, to a lesser extent, keyboards. The folk elements are mainly present in the guitar riffs and the vocal delivery. Overall, Nordavind provides a fun but entirely forgettable listen.
Certainly Nordavind’s biggest drawback is its inclusion of many uninspired songs. While the album flows along in a logical manner, with consistency being maintained through each song’s similarity in style, the strength of the individual pieces varies greatly. The album begins with a very promising instrumental intro, but follows this up with three lackluster songs. The first really enjoyable song on the album is track five, “Nagellstev”, but it is a drum and vocal piece that is only a minute long. While there are no really bad tracks on the album, there are only a few good pieces that manage to stand out. The mediocre tracks have the distracting effect of blending together, and this makes it difficult to appreciate some of the album’s better moments. By far the worst track featured on Nordavind is “Langt Borti Lia”, a seven-minute piece that long overstays its welcome and really contributes nothing of value to the album. Again, it’s not bad, but it’s a forgettable piece that drones on far too long and serves no real purpose. Its considerable length also hurts the album significantly. Nordavind is a very short album that clocks in at just over thirty-three minutes, so an ineffective seven-minute piece should be considered a serious detriment. In contrast, however, the best song featured on the album is “Noregsgard”, another lengthy track that clocks in at over eight minutes. This song bases itself on the main riff of the Darkthrone song “Quintessence”, while adding some tasteful keyboard parts to give it more of a folk metal feel. This rendition is very effective, and “Noregsgard”, combined with the acoustic instrumental outro that follows it, end up being an excellent way to end an otherwise stale album.
Despite the album’s many shortcomings, one aspect of Nordavind deserves enthusiastic praise. The vocal performance of all three musicians is excellent, with Kari Rueslåtten in particular providing an absolutely brilliant performance. Rueslåtten has a beautiful voice, and the album’s biggest error is relegating her to a mostly background role that is secondary to the male vocalists. She is only featured on four tracks, and contributes only a few lines to two out of the four. She is given just one moment to truly shine on the album; this is on the brief a cappella track “Lokk”. This is a beautiful folky piece that demonstrates well the vocalist’s strength, and is the only must-listen track on the album besides “Noregsgard”. Addressing the male vocal parts, which are split relatively evenly between Fenriz and Satyr, both vocalists also provide a very strong performance that fits the style of music well. Surprisingly, given the male musicians’ backgrounds, clean vocals are the favored technique on Nordavind, with Satyr providing a few lines of harsh black metal vocals on only two of the album’s tracks (“Mellom Bakkar Og Berg” and “Oppi Fjellet”).
As already noted, Storm disbanded shortly after the release of Nordavind, and released no further material. The reason for the split was Rueslåtten’s disapproval of the anti-Christian lyrics Satyr added to the track “Oppi Fjellet”, apparently late in the album’s recording process. It is a shame that the band had such an acrimonious split, because the lineup certainly had the potential to create something great. Nordavind certainly has some inspired moments, and a follow-up featuring Rueslåtten’s vocals more prominently could have ended up a very impressive album. There is also a good chance that a follow-up album would have had more original songwriting, as the band learned to develop its strengths. As it stands, Storm left behind a frustratingly disappointing legacy. Nordavind is a forgettable work that did not age well and does not hold up in comparison to classics in the genre. It is, however, worth at least one listen for the strength of the vocal performance alone.
Storm was a short-lived side project formed by Fenriz (Darkthrone) and Satyr (Satyricon) with Kari-Ann Rueslatten (then vocalist of The 3rd and the Mortal) to experiment in a style of blackened metal mixed with traditional Norwegian folk music as a way of asserting their love of Norwegian culture, values and ways of life. The trio recorded one album "Nordavind" which consists of metal cover versions of old Norwegian folk songs and broke up not long after, Rueslatten initiating the split after finding anti-Christian sentiments expressed in some of the changed lyrics. Well, what did she expect? I personally think the trio wouldn't have lasted long anyway once the novelty of recording folk songs as metal songs wore off: Fenriz had other projects happening including his ambient all-synth Neptune Towers project, whose related concept albums "Caravans to Empire Algol" and "Transmissions from Empire Algol" were reissued in 2012, and he seems to have been the prime instigator(?) for Storm.
Most of the songs are very short and only two break the four-minute barrier. They all feature very strong and highly idiosyncratic melodies and rhythms that don't exist in any other music genre outside Norway and lend themselves readily to the expression of heroic values, stoicism and endurance in the face of a harsh, even malevolent natural environment. An example is the song "Haavard Hedde" which is about a guy who establishes a farm with a forest of just two pine trees, marries and has a family; although he appreciates the forest and the serenity it brings him, he recognises that to raise his children and to keep himself and his wife secure in their old age he will have to cut down the trees. (Interestingly the song was also covered by Runhild Gammalsaeter on the Sunn0))) album "White2" but without the melody.) The songs provide plenty of opportunities for all three to showcase their vocal talents, and the men make the most of theirs, one of them singing confidently without accompaniment on "Nagellstev" and savouring every word as he does so. Rueslatten mostly provides back-up vocals across the album and takes the lead on just a couple of songs including one done without musical accompaniment ("Lokk").
The actual music itself is not remarkable: the guitars have a distinctive whining, spidery chainsaw sound and stick to outlining the melody and the song-line for the vocalists to follow on each track. Even where there are instrumental passages, there is no lead guitar improvising on the melody, and the overall impression listeners will get is of a very thin sound. This highlights the very substantial structure and salty flavour of the songs: Norwegian folk music certainly could teach modern musicians more than a thing or two about how to create songs and long instrumental music with individuality and character!
The project would have been good for two albums at least and maybe a third before the musicians tired of it. The only way Storm could survive longer if they had continued would have been to do original material based on native folk melodies or maybe set folk epics and folk tales to music. As it is, "Nordavind" is an interesting footnote for fans of Fenriz, Satyr and Rueslatten who must have everything these musicians have done but for most people outside Norway who are not students of history or cultural sociology the songs have limited value in themselves.
There’s a scene in one of the Wayne’s World films in which Wayne inquires about a band called “The Shitty Beatles”. “Are they any good?” he asks, “No, they’re shitty” is his answer. Storm is kind of like that. Almost refreshingly honest, really.
Now, I rather like Isengard, don’t you? Particularly the more rousing, folky moments -- they’ve just got a certain robust charm to them that I find really appealing. I picked up Vinterskugge probably not too long after my initial exposure to Darkthrone with the A Blaze in the Northern Sky album, and I’ve always been thoroughly impressed with it. After listening to this -- thankfully, Storm’s only album -- I think I appreciate it even more. While Isengard’s certainly a quirky band -- not to say that any of Mr Nagell’s projects are straight-ahead affairs, by any means -- but the writing is of such quality that you can’t help but be drawn into the rich imagery of endless Scandinavian woods, perhaps occupied by all sorts of little Golum-esque creatures whose existence pre-dates that of Lumberjacks by several hundred centuries. So what of this, then? Well, forget quirky this is fucking goofy.
The folk aspect seems a whole lot less natural, which is of mild importance when it comes to any sort of folk influence, really. It’s pretty funny, then, to dwell on the fact that what we have here are apparently renderings of traditional Norwegian folk songs (not being familiar with any Norwegian folk music, I’ll take the archives’s word on that). In fact, Nordavind feels contrived in that sort of “super group” sense that’s so very fucking annoying. Yep, you may not see Storm shelved next to The Crooked Vultures or The Firm any time soon, but in essence they’re rather similar. I really do believe that Fenriz’s projects outside of Darkthrone were better off without any sort of meddling outside influence. This album has two of ‘em. Nordavind, amongst its meagre achievements, can list exposing Satyr as a really plain guitarist, for one thing. For a point of reference, you could compare ‘Noregsgard’ to Darkthrone’s ‘Quintessence’. One features a talented guitarist, one who might mainly be a drummer, but still, very talented. The other doesn’t. As it turns out brilliant ideas are made that way by their execution, and if you give gold to a bumbling fuck-up he can still somehow turn it into lead. Congrats, Satyr. There is, of course, another “special guest artiste” here -- Kari from The 3rd and the Mortal. Her voice is pleasant, I like it. But the honest truth is she does nothing of particular interest with it, either following Fenriz’s drunken rambling or following the riffs to make everything seem that little bit more “hey nonny nonny”. One can’t help but feel that Storm did at least have some talent within its ranks, but unfortunately, none of it is put to any real use. Also, while I’m at it -- there seems to be the rather infamous case of Kari telling the very spirited boys in the band not to write anything nasty in the lyrics, and then -- defying all warning! -- they did just that. I don’t know about you but telling extreme metal musicians not to write any extreme lyrics (especially considering their past of writing, you guessed it, extreme lyrics) seems a little silly. It’s kind of like putting a box of matches in front of a child and telling him, “Don’t you play with those matches or I’ll leave your daft little folk metal project!”. God, who could have expected this band to be so damn tempestuous!
Honestly, this thing just seems like a lesson in absurdity. If it’s not just plainly absurd, then it’s absurdly goofy. It should be noted that the best song here is the one which has that riff off Panzerfaust.Whereas Isengard seems to steer clear of the trappings of folk metal, Storm just blunders straight into them. It just seems like Fenriz had so much creative energy in the mid-90s that he felt like channelling it into something bafflingly shit. The whole thing is just one unmitigated, messy fuck-up. Sometimes you just don’t need that extra side-project, eh?
As far as collaborative works, Storm was certainly one to turn a great many heads when it was announced in the mid 90s. A folk metal duo featuring Sigurd Wongraven (i.e. Satyr of Satyricon) and my own personal savior, Herr Nagell (Fenriz of Darkthrone) was soon a trio, rounded out by the excellent Kari Rueslåtten of The 3rd and the Mortal fame. In retrospect, the sole album Nordavind may not have turned out as absolute perfection as one might expect, but it has a great many memorable moments and was far ahead of its time, as countless European folk metal bands attempt to copy it note for note (but with a large cast of clowns dancing about).
The vocals here are threefold: in addition to Kari's meanderings, we have snarls and Fenriz' manly, bold cleans. When they all meet, it can occasionally result in a goofy effect rather than a serious mix, but individually they come off as strong as one might hope for. The guitars and drums on the album are kept quite simple, this is not very grim material and most of Satyr's riffs are quite simple folk melodies made chords. This lends an air of authenticity to what Storm is trying to pull off, and the resulting music is more accessible than Darkthrone or Satyricon.
There are 10 tracks at just over 33 minutes. Most of the songs are short and sweet, though half the playlength is occupied by two longer tracks, "Langt Borti Lia" and "Noregsgard". "Innferd" is merely 95 seconds of keyboard performing a sorrow swell of notes below the samples of wind and rain. "Mellom Bakkar Og Berg" picks up into the band's proper 'style', with some mug swilling, charming rhythms to which Fenriz and Kari offer a duet. The riffs grow doomier and Fenriz starts into a more aggressive shout, which is awesome, but despite its sticky candy melodies, the song does not stand out so far. "Håvard Hedde" lurches forward like something you'd hear at a Viking celebration, the horn being passed to each slavering mouth as the eyes are drawn to the fire and music. "Villemann" offers more somber doom-like folk metal, Kari joining Fenriz as he rolls his native tongue with great skill. "Nagellstev" is one of my favorites, despite it's minute length, with an astouding, if brief vocal performance over a simple drum. I play this one in the morning when I know I've got a rough day ahead.
"Oppi Fjellet" begins to bring it all together, with some solid drum work under Fenriz' musings, and I enjoy how the core rhythm alternates to bring in a more traditional Viking metal romp. "Langt Borti Lia" balances its 7 minute length with a fine selection of Kari's weaving, mystical intonations and some of the better riffs of the album, slowing to a doomed crawl near the conclusion. "Lokk" is just Kari, singing a beautiful melody that makes the blood run cold by the wind and hot with a longing for the past age, simultaneously. "Noregsgard" is the 'epic' of the record, and features more amazing vocals from all involved, over a creeping pensive pace. This track is probably the highlight here, because it lasts long enough for you to lose yourself in its mountains and valleys, emotionally resonant. "Utferd" is just 2 minutes of acoustic guitar and synthesizer, an after-taste really after you have been scoured by the beauty of the previous track.
It's a shame that such a quality project was destined to become a one-off, but if you really enjoyed this then I guess I'd steer you towards the first few albums of Vintersorg, who once wrote with a similar, traditional folk style (and a little more complex). You can also find three of this band's tracks on the Crusade from the North compilation, though two are alternate versions based off songs from this album. Storm is yet another testament to the high level of talent possessed by Fenriz, who has chosen some excellent company here. Along with Neptune Towers, this is one of his more memorable side projects to Darkthrone, and belongs in any discussion as to the roots of real folk metal.
Highlights: Villemann, Nagellstev, Langt Borti Lia, Noregsgard
Storm was a side project of Satyr from Satyricon and Fenriz from Darkthrone, formed in 1993. There’s also some Norwegian folk singer chick named Kari thrown into the mix, whom actually adds a lot to the sound. Nordavind was the only release this super group ever made, but what a gem it is. All ten songs here are metalized Norwegian traditional folk songs and according to the album sleeve, the release is a tribute to their home country. If I had to choose a feeling that Storm conveys, I would definitely say that pride is the most prominent.
The music is dark, with great black metal sounding riffs from Satyr, but deep chanting vocals from Fenriz. Kari’s vocals add a lot to the music, when used, and really make songs such as Langt Borti Lia and Noregsgard. She tones down the aggressive feel of some songs (Oppi Fjellet) and adds in a nice melody. There are plenty of catchy songs, I’d be singing along if I knew Norwegian. It’s hard to pick a favourite but Oppi Fjellet comes to mind. Probably the most angry sounding, apparently it’s about driving Christians out of Norway. With a lyrical theme like that, it’s hard to go wrong.
Fenriz’s vocals are similar to his cleans on his other side project, Isengard. Deep and gruff, the sound of a true Viking. Satyr’s guitar tone is most similar to his work on The Shadowthrone. Cold, dark, yet catchy and memorable. The mood communicated on this album is a majestic one. It really feels like you are being pulled back in time to ancient Norway. It is a glimpse of medieval times, the perfect soundtrack for walking lonesome through vast and cold landscapes.
Although it would have been nice to hear more from this excellent band, it’s a good thing they never released anything else. This is what the band set out to do and they did it well, then went on to do their own things. If you can find this album I highly recommend adding it to your collection, as it is a treasured part of mine.
Once again the mid nineties is struck with a folk inspired side project of Darkthrone’s mastermind Fenriz. Similar to his efforts with Isengard on the Hostmorke release Fenriz and company deliver enjoyable folk metal and traditional folk inspired/style songs. Nordavind, in respects to Hostmorke, manages to take what is good about that album, expand upon it, draw from it, and bring the full potential of what Fenriz can do with a black/folk metal album. Delivering ten tracks with little failure Nordavind has no major short comings and seems to have perfected this unique style of what now seems like Fenriz exclusive style black/folk metal.
As in Hostmorke, the majority of songs on Nordavind feature the dark, raw, slow yet constant, flowing, Darkthrone style riff to carry the black metal element(s) of the songs through till the end of each song, and ultimately the album. They are basically carbon copies of Hostmorke’s riffs, or vice versa since these two albums came out during the same year. Enhancing the trademark Darkthrone riff style is the slow, choppy, and at times pounding drumming . Don’t think blast beats but more like loud and slow drumming, repetitious and catchy, filled with volume. A prime example of this, and where it is done best on the album is on Oppi Fjellet, midway through the album. A repeated, volume filled, simplistic yet catchy folk style drum beat (think a Cruachan song meets the song Jewelthrone but slower) caries the main beat of the song. This combined with a main raw and flowing riff gives the song a pleasant traditional folk style rhythm. It is a mildly dark riff, not grim at all, that plays well with Fenriz’s loud, volume filled vocals, sometimes sung or spoken in a powerful tone. The song gathers some intensity towards the end as the vocals fall into a harsher style picking up a hint of hate. This is the best song on the album that best represents what this album has to offer. But with an album that has some good variety there is more to be found, unlike Hostmorke which was all of the same (a song like I just described).
Fenriz recruited Kari Rueslåtten do to some female vocals on this album. Songs such as Mellom Bakkar Og Berg and Lokk (which I think is about the Norse god Loki) have her singing in a gentle and soft voice, at time doing a solo performance and other times accompanying Fenriz’s old man vocals. Langt Borti Lia features the most unique vocal structure/style from Kari. With an intro that has a far east feel to it, Chinese or Korean perhaps. The song produces a faster, repeated rhythm guided by Kari’s flowing almost Asian style vocals. A nice added variety and not overused at all on the track, nor the album. Yet most of the album that features her vocals are a softer spoken/sung style, all in Norwegian. This gives this album some needed variety making it more than just a repeat of Hostmorke. More variety is even present, manifesting in the form of both a Fenriz and a Kari solo vocal performance track. Both sounding like a traditional folk and a Norwegian folk style song.
While little to no other bands are doing this style of music, Storm is certainly a band to check out. For variety and uniqueness Nordavind receives its highest mark by creating a catchy and memorable piece of work. This album features no flaws or short comings, the inherent repetition found on folk metal albums doesn’t do anything to weaken this work. If your into Darkthrone, or blackened style folk songs, Nordavind, and Storm’s other work, is for you.
Featuring some big names, Storm's Nordavind is meant as a tribute (hymn) to Norway and Norwegian folklore. Big names, because the musicians are well known for their other bands; Sigurd Wongraven is known for his work in Wongraven and Satyricon, 'Herr Nagell' for Darkthrone, and Kari Rueslåtten is known best for her part in 3rd and the Mortal, but also for her solo-albums, and being sampled in a drum'n'bass song or 3(!) (boy was I surprised when I recognized her name). Nordavind is a tribute to Norway, because the songs are mostly metallized Norwegian folk songs.
Referring to the music contained on this disc simply as 'metallized folk tunes' would be disrespectfull however, as the album is considered a landmark album for folk-metal by many. In fact, after Skyclad and Cruachan, Storm are probably the best known folk-metal band, and certainly one of the most influential, if not THE most influential (there are DROVES of folk-metal bands doing Scandinavian folk in this style). Many a band is still being compared to them (most notably Otyg, who used to be called 'Sweden's answer to Storm').
The music itself could indeed be called metallized Norwegian folk though; like with folk, the songs are built around a central (melodical) theme. This works extremely with the buzzy heavy guitars, as it as such conveys the whole of an emotion by going into variations on the central theme, which has that very same emotion contained within itself. Especially sentiments, of forlorn introspection, epicness, pride, respect for the beauty of the countryside, are well conveyed on Nordavind. And as is common with good folk(-metal), the melodies stick.
According to the booklet, Wongraven and Nagell were almost finished with recording the album when Kari arrived, showing she shared the other members feelings for the idea behind this project. I'm glad they made her join, as she has a very pleasant, tender voice. She offsets Wongraven's and Nagell's deep and heavy clean vocals excellently. Wongraven and Nagell alternate doing the lead vocals, or even feature next to eachother, if Kari isn't given all the space. Harsh vocals are almost completely avoided, which makes the album easier to be appealed by for many, were it not that the overall sound is quite heavy, almost doomy.
My favorite song on Nordavind has to be Oppi Fjellet (translated as 'High Mountains'). All the lyrics are in Norwegian, and aren't in the booklet, but everybody, drunks included, can sing along to this excellent (I'd almost say 'drinking-')song. With it's 'Oppi Fjellet! Oppi Fjellet!' every other line, and occasional low 'Hey!'s, it instantly sticks.
Storm's Nordavind is a must-check for every folk-metal lover, as for many a band, this was the blueprint. The sentence 'Storm is not a political band exclusively' in the booklet was a bit unfortunate, as the band would be stigmatised as nationalistic, instead of 'romantic'. Of course, many bands that followed did occasionally have their own dubious sentiments. Overall, if I had to compare the album, I'd say I like Nordavind over Otyg's 'Sagovindar's Boning', as Storm doesn't go overboard on the melody like Otyg, and instead sticks to single song-themes that stay with you. And hey, Storm has Oppi Fjellet.