Viking Chick Kaboom

Nemesea
Wiccan singer-songwriter Manda Ophuis, the lead vocalist in the Dutch symphonic rock band Nemesea named the band after the day the ancient Greek dedicated to the goddess Nemesis. She lists as her primary musical influences Anneke van Giersbergen, Tori Amos, Christina Aguilera, and Kelly Clarkson.

 

Viking Chick Kaboom
Symphonic Valkyrie Metal Unleashed
by Herr Sætyrbläde

Thunderstrike guitars! Fjord-deep bass! Power-throated Valkyries backed by evil Viking muppets! As bombastic as Wagner on crack, this musical Ragnarok is fun for Pagans, Christians and Devil-Huggers alike! Skol, m’lord! Blood and souls for the One-Eye’d One!

Okay… that description may be a smidge overstated. Still, where this heavy metal subgenre is concerned, the “top” is someplace you go over about ten seconds into your first song. A synergetic blend of Symphonic Metal, Viking Metal, Power Metal, Gothic Rock, Pagan Rock, and Medievalist Revival Rock (with flourishes borrowed from roots in folk music and Wagnerian orchestration), the genre I like to call “Viking Chick Kaboom” sounds a lot like Black Metal’s steaming hot little sister.

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Pixie in Overdrive: An Interview with S. J. Tucker

Pixie In Overdrive
The Badass Bardery of S. J. Tucker
by Phil “Satyrblade” Brucato,
photos by Kyle Cassidy & Jeff Navarro

S. J. TuckerA Seattle basement, mid-winter. The room swarms with eager fans. Each person, it seems, knows the words to every song belted out by a slender pixie in a jester’s cap. FaerieWorlds, 2007. A blue-braided power-house whales on a bodhran, sending hundreds of bright-clad neo-tribals leaping happily through the air. Sunday morning barefoot boogie. Dozens of dancers gyrate to a song they’ve never heard before. Grabbing the chorus, they sing: The circle is here/ It lives in each of us/ In perfect love/ And perfect trust. This is the magic of S. J. Tucker, and if you haven’t heard of her yet, you will.

S. J. Tucker is a self-made Pagan performing artist. The “folk” label is too limited to hold her. Although she seems at first glance like a simple “guitar chick,” in truth she’s a glittering badass of fire-spinning verve. Musically, “Sooj” ranges from a capella Gospel to World Fusion technobeats. Combining theatrics and mysticism with info-tech savvy and spirited attitude, Tucker defies expectations. Despite her elfin appearance, this “skinny white chick” has a roaring voice and thousand-yard stare. Like Ani DiFranco and Jonathan Coulton, she’s a product of timeless artistry and postmodern opportunity. Though bardic in tradition, S. J. Tucker is fully an artist of Now.

Read more: Pixie in Overdrive: An Interview with S. J. Tucker

Icarus Witch Interview


Focus on Pagan music —

Icarus Witch

If you think “Pagan music” consists solely of music suitable for Elvish weddings, drum circles, and chants about the Goddess, you may need a healthy dose of Icarus Witch. The brainchild of bassist (and proud Pagan) Jason Myers, Icarus Witch has been featured in heavy metal magazines Metal Maniacs, BW&BK, Outburn, Hit Parader, Pit, Explicitly Intense, Unrestrained and Classic Rock. They’ve brought the Goddess to the mosh pits of Hamburg, Germany’s Headbangers Open Air Festival, and have played alongside luminaries like George Lynch of platinum ‘80s rockers Dokken and Frank X. Aresti of prog metal gods Fates Warning. Kenaz Filan was able to catch up with Jason in his Pennsylvania home just before he took off for the band’s summer “No Rest for the Witches” tour opening for one of their all-time favorite bands, Y&T. Icarus Witch will be promoting their recent release, Draw Down The Moon, this time with former Dirty Looks guitarist/backing vocalist, Christopher Shaner as the new frontman and DiAnno guitarist, Ed Skero on 2nd lead guitar.

 

K Icarus Witch released its first EP, Roses on White Lace, in 2005. What were you guys doing before then? How did you all come together?

Jason Prior to Roses, I had been living in L.A., working in the record industry, doing A&R, art direction, publicity, and various jobs that allowed me to build up the business knowledge and contacts to help launch a band of my own creation. Although California is still the epicenter of the music business, I felt I would have a better chance of finding the right musicians for this classic metal style back in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, an area of the country known more for its blue collar work ethic and traditions than trendiness.

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Wardruna - Sowing New Seeds, Strengthening Old Roots

Wardruna

Sowing New Seeds, Strengthening Old Roots

Wardruna began to take shape in 2002 as a project of musician Einar Kvitrafn Selvik (known from his work as a drummer with metal bands Jotunspor and Gorgoroth.) The band became a place where Einar’s practice of Norse paganism and runes could be combined with his passion for music. In 2007, the project attracted popular attention after it was featured in the documentary True Norwegian Black Metal. Finally, the debut album Gap var Ginnunga was released in 2009. Each album will feature music written to evoke the spirit and meaning of eight runes; the first album featured Hagal, Bjarkan, Thurs, Jara, Laukr, Kauna, Algir, and Dagr.

Focusing on the cultic musical language of the Pagan arts of galder, seidr and the daily acts of the cultic life, mixed with impulses from Norwegian/Nordic folk music and music from other indigenous cultures, Wardruna aims to create a portrait of each rune it features. Recordings often take place outdoors, in locations chosen to resonate with the specific rune in question, using human voice and instruments, including deer-hide frame and ceremonial drums, mouth harp, clove/hoof rattles, bone flute, goat and cow horns, Hardanger fiddle, bowed lyres, and tagelharpe (“viking fiddle”). Other, more elemental inputs include natural sounds such as wind in trees, water over stones, crackling fire, employed to enhance the nature of the rune being portrayed.

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Les Witches - Fortune My Foe

wp19rev_FortuneMyFoe

At Court and Cauldron: The Music of Les Witches

The King of Denmark leaps to a galliard. Lords and ladies revel at a masque in the courtly theater of Renaissance England. Ophelia sings a love song. The cauldron bubbles. The criminal and the persecuted, en route to the gallows, sing “Fortune my Foe,” a melancholy, beautiful tune which has become an early music hit. It is the title tune of this CD — music of Shakespeare’s time, brought to you from France by Les Witches.

On harpsichord, lute, violin, and recorder, Les Witches recreate this music with invention and sizzle. We cannot know exactly how the music was originally performed. It made its way around Europe, its itinerant existence hastened when Queen Elizabeth decided to ban independent musicians. Lyrics changed regularly, ballads became dances, and courtly music became country music (and vice versa).

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Hagalaz’ Runedance

Hagalaz’ Runedance
Candlelight Records, 2004

4/5 Broomsticks

The sound of waves crashing on a ship starts, the tide taking it slowly out to sea as bagpipes play and women sing a farewell. You can feel Frigga’s grief as Baldur and Nanna sail into the sunset, almost hear the arrow being shot that sets it ablaze and smell the wood as it burns. The waves slowly swallow the ship, and the echoes of the women grieving the passage. This is “The Crossing”, the first track of Frigga’s Web, and sets the tone for the whole album. Frigga’s Web is at once grieving and reverent, powerful and striking. In any other hands this may have been one of the most depressing albums I could have listened to, but with the pounding drums and Andréa Hebel’s dynamic, commanding voice, the songs inspire one to dance rather than mourn.

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