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Sowulo – Wurdiz Review

Cinematic Nordic folk to turn the wheels of fate to.

What does Sowulo sound like?

Dense dark Nordic folk.

The review of Sowulo – Wurdiz

Wurdiz is a word I first came across when I bought a bag of runes and it described the Wurdiz rune as the run of fate. You could also call it destiny and that’s the route Sowulo have taken for their cinematic Nordic folk album of the same title. It is a densly atmospheric album with guttural power from a variety of unusual, ancient folk instruments being turned up to 11. As a result, the album feels like a force of nature.

Firstly, let’s cover the dense and doom-driven production. For most of the first ten tracks on the album, Sowulo is blasting along as a crossover between battle music and Norse ritual music. Nyckelharpa is a central instrument to creating the dense thickness that permeates every track. Add in the Irish bouzouki, Celtic harps, blow horns and a carnyx (bronze trumpet) alongside tribal drums and you have a force to be reckoned with. The production reminds me of earlier Faun albums where their pagan folk qualities were more grungy and grizzly. You could cut chunks out of the atmospheric air across this album and still be struggling for breath. It’s all part of Sowulo’s charm though as with this depth comes power, bass drones and a surge of primal electricity that rages through each track.

Sowulo
Sowulo

Some songs are more chant or incantation based like “Wyrd webba” whereas “Stearcost ealra” are more percussively cinematic. The assault of tom drums and horns really give way to an epic ancestral battle. One of the albums’ many highlights is also showcasing different styles of singing. In “Stearcost ealra” alone we have chants, drones, throat singers and powerful siren calls. It’s this dynamism that makes Sowulo’s music come to life through its density. Tracks like “Eaxlgestealla” have dramatic pauses before pounding tom (taiko?) drums smash the listener to a pulp as the choruses cry out.

Not everything pounds along like a war from Lord of the Rings though. “Cerofan” balances regal and enchanting harp and vocals with a galloping grungy beat. “Sl​æ​p nū s​ō​fte” is a sombre ballad of voice, harp and strings that lulls you into a numb comfort between haunted instrumental bridges. “Āw​æ​cnian” closes out the album with a pensive but quiet dirge march into ominous wilderness. Worn-out drums and mechanical nyckelharpa riffs give it a funeral march vibe. Sitting somewhere between all out chaos and calm are tracks like “SunnanleMman” that let their blow horns ring out as a call to action, or the cinematic outro of “Ð​æ​s webban cr​æ​ft” where triumphant chants and instrumental jigs stomp on the back of defeat.

“Wurdiz” is a fantastic album full of cinematic moments that you can’t help but get carried away with. If it’s the pounding drums, the hypnotic chants, the creepy riffs or the dark incantations – it all comes together perfectly. Sowulo has made one of the best dark folk albums of 2022 and continues to showcase why the band are so adored by the genre at large. Play this at night with the lights off and you’ll have a transcendent musical experience.

Recommended track: Stearcost ealra

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Sowulo - Wurdiz

9.5

9.5/10

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