Atmospheric dark folk European folk folk gothic Nordic Folk piano review ritual music

Forndom – Alster Review

Gothic piano rearrangements of Scandinavian ritual folk anthems

What does Forndom sound like?

Usually dark Scandinavian ritual folk. This time it’s creepy piano ambient.

The review of Forndom – Alster

Forndom is an artist I’ve only discovered in 2023 but they’ve been creating deep, dark ritual folk that crosses between Viking chants and ceremonial sacrifices for many years. I’ve gobbled up the back catalogue just in time for Forndom to release ‘Alster’ – a piano rework of seven of his tracks with a thick Scandavanian atmosphere.

Forndom
Forndom

By atmosphere, I mean that each track is quite minimalist, slow, melancholy and drenched in soft reverb. Each low note rumbles like distant thunder. The higher notes are often left to sound lonely and a bit sad. Anything mid-range is often soft and washed. It allows tracks like ‘Yggdrasil’, which was a dark ritual chant, to sound like a circle of sadness and regret. Yet at the same time, it is captivatingly beautiful, whilst being gothic through and through. The whole album could score a Castlevania game. The pensive slow-burning march of ‘Finnmarken’ is like a droning apocalyptic aftermath. The two note bass grinds its taut nature into your mind and messes with it. ‘Jakten’ on the other hand plays with a solitary kick drum and sinister piano arrangements to crank up the horror and tension. The originals had their own flare of darkness to them but this distillation works a treat.

In many ways, I’m reminded of Peter Bjargo. He too has a penchant for gothic piano music with a cinematic echo. Nowhere is that more apparent than on ‘Resan’. The flutter of muted percussion and low piano bass notes tolling a sinister demise are so palpable, that it’s captivating. Forndom takes the less is more approach and lets the unsettling melodies sway around the speakers and enchant the listener. ‘Fostersonen’ takes on a tragic beauty with its heavy-hearted staggered chords. Gothic to the core, you could hear this in a Silent Hill game. ‘Hemkomst’ is almost uplifting at times but veers away like it’s flirting with your emotions. ‘Aska’ is a reworked unreleased track that rounds out the album. Its use of carefully placed minor keys and after reverb atonal shift is superb and it closes the album in a mysterious and majestic shroud.

Whilst being a totally different genre from Forndom’s usual output, everything in ‘Alster’ feels totally true to the spirit and atmosphere that Forndom creates. It is deliciously dark, dense with atmosphere and elegantly tense. It is really difficult to balance beauty and creepy and not sound cliche but this album balances it perfectly. Understated, never overblown and totally unsettling or magical depending on your mood. This is an arranged album done right.

Recommended track: Resan

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Forndom - Alster

8

8.0/10

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