GARMARNA - SWEDISH PROGRESSIVE FOLK w/Rock flourishes - FEMALE VOCALS - "Eclectic Earwig Reviews Music and More for You!"    
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Artist: Garmarna
Album: Vengeance
Label: North Side. 530 North 3rd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401.
© 1999 MNW Records Group AB

This is a modern, 21st Century is on us, Swedish Progressive Folk band with
a female vocalist up front. Unlike Groupa (who write much of their material)
this band follows in the tradition of their English and Irish contemporaries
(Fairport, Steeleye Span) and uses the traditional folk melodies and stories
of their culture as a base. Unlike them, however, Garmarna is more rock
bordering on heavy metal and techno at times.

(Track by Track Analysis)

"Gamen", opens the CD with a power attack of metallic sound.  But underneath
this is a ‘traditional’ music folk sound, which seems to fit perfectly.

"Euchari" has a strong trance/dance feel to it.  If you have heard the first
CD by Enigma then you have an idea of what this is about.

"Halling Jarön". Ground Control to Major Tom…. This one opens with a guitar
riff reminiscent of that other work, but any similarity is quickly dispelled
when the vocalist joins. The feel of this one is still more Space Rock than
Folk Rock.

"Vedergållningen (Vengeance)" reminds me of the Vincent Price movie “Dr
Phibes Rises Again” – absolutely terrifying.  The English translation of the
lyrics leave you running for some cheerful reading, like maybe E A Poe’s
“The Telltale Heart”, or “The Fall of the House of Usher”.  Don’t read them
after dark. This piece is a reminder that fairy tales were originally for
adults, not children.  Did I mention that the music holds its’ own against
the lyrics?

"Nio år" is less dark, but still a somber piece.  This piece is given a more
‘traditional’ treatment, but we are still a long way from the light of dawn
and safety.

"Sorgsen ton (Stomped Bread)" is a breath of traditional folk which breaks
out into some bang-you-on-your-head rock and roll.  Odd in an enjoyable way.

"Herr Holkin" is one of those rare folk stories without a moral, in other
words it has a happy ending.  The music reminds me of Metallica doing a

"Bläck (Ink)" is again a combination of folk violin and an industrial but
low key percussion line accompanying the ballad voice of Emma.

"Polska" is a traditional dance piece with no vocals.  It is the drumming of
Jens Hoglin which reminds you that this band can kick-ass at the same time.

"Brun" is another dark dark dark tune, with the low end bass and drums to
support it.

Who might like it?  Fans of Fairport Convention, Peter Gabriel, the more
sophisticated an imaginative techno, possibly even Metallica, because this
band almost defies analysis. But like their countrymen in Groupa, they are
definitely pushing at envelopes. If you are looking for something bold and
brave, and dark, this disk is for you.

Who might dislike it? Purists of any stripe will probably have a hissy fit.

The best tracks:  There are no weak tracks but I think that "Gamen" and
"Vedergållningen" are show-stoppers.

The track that best represents Garmarna’s style: "Herr Holken"

Star rating: 4 /12 out of 5, with the band threatening that 5. This CD was
mesmerising and head-spinning. The first time I heard it I played it through
three times.  Each subsequent listen as brought me as much joy as the first.

Stefan Brisland-Fernier – violins, strings, hurdy-gurdy, programming, guitar
Emma Hardelin - vocals
Jens Hoglin - drums
Gotte Ringsvist – luteguitar, guitar, violin
Rickard Westman, guitars, ebow, bass
Also collaborating: Sank, programming, bass

Produced by Sank for Toy Town Productions.

The Tunes:
1. Gamen (Vulture) [4:03]
2. Euchari [4:22]
3. Halling Jåron [3:03]
4. Vedergållningen (Vengance)  [4:55]
5. Nio år (Nine Years) [4:30]
6. Sorgsen ton (Stomped Bread)  [4:47]
7. Herr Holkin [5:18]
8. Bläck (Ink) [5:06]
9. Polska [3:09]
10. Bruin (The Robber) [5:56]

 ~  Gregory M. Amov (GMA) -- If it ain't MIDI, it must be actual live musicians,
who'da thunk it?

Editor's Note: I want to thank Greg for "bridging the gap" and helping his "partner-in-crime" Steven Davies-Morris make this review a reality. Good job! ALSO, IF YOU FIND GARMARNA INTRIGUING, THEN BE SURE TO OBTAIN THEIR OLDER RELEASE, GODS MUSICIANS, OMM 2014D. IT IS EVEN HEAVIER AND MORE ROCKin'-NOIR-FOLK THAN VENGEANCE. Emma Hardelin's vox is pure joy to experience!!



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