Review Summary: Combining the electric power of his sophomore release with the dark cohesiveness of his debut, SIG:AR:TYR has reached new heights in blackened folk metal.
A SIG:AR:TYR full length album is always a pretty grand thing. His debut saw the listener embark on a cold, dark journey alongside an army of northern warriors. In 2008, Beyond The North Winds saw the band experiment with the more important use of distorted guitars and added soundscapes. The end result was another magnificent outing that didn’t have the same feeling of togetherness as the debut but was saved by the sheer quality of each song. Now after having his album to experiment go so well, you’d expect the next album, the one where he puts his experiments to proper use, to be breathtaking? And, you would be correct.
On Godsaga, Daemonskald has taken the best elements of both his full lengths and combined it into one powerload of an album. The album brings back the electric power found on Beyond the North Winds but while giving the feeling of a linear journey the same way the debut did. Everything feels like it was placed where it is for a reason, as a driving force, pushing the album forward with every song. The album goes through moments of triumph (Eternal Return) and moments of darkness (Blood Of The North, Sleep Of The Sword) without ever feeling like anything is out of place but rather like it is demonstrating a new aspect of its main theme (Odin’s sacrifice on the world tree of Yggdrasil).
The album opens up with what too many will probably disregard as a “cheesy viking” opening acoustic piece. Upon a first quick listen, one can easily think this due to the way it is sung almost like a prayer, asking for Odin to hear this song and come. But to me this brought back memories of the song Far Away, from the past album that I had unjustly disregarded as a cheesy ballad but took on a whole new meaning when I read the artist’s commentary on it and saw the thought and effort really put into it. Determined not to let this happen again, I did a bit of non extensive research and was able to spot many references to the album’s themes in this opener (the title itself referring to the nine days Odin spent hanging on the tree). This research also allowed me to spot references like these spread out all around and I am sure there are many more that I have yet to find. But it is through such research that one can see the true importance Daemonskald puts into his writing both lyrically and musically.
This passion can be felt all over the album. Whether it be the way everything feels like it has been systematically placed exactly where it should, the thought out lyrics or the raw emotion that can be felt in his vocals (the chorus of Godsaga is a perfect example of this at its peak), the album takes on a life of its own for its 55 minute play time. It does not give the impression of being another folk metal album but rather a true northern folk story played with modern instruments, a new type of folk music almost. A folk music where deep, distorted guitars are used to create the cold setting of the story, and details are thrown in the form of melodic leads (acoustic and electric). Where moments of hope can be represented with an acoustic guitar and moments of intensity made felt with the pounding of drums. This is the feeling given by Godsaga, a feeling that I, personally, have not seen done to this extent since Ulver’s Bergtatt or Bathory’s Hammerheart. For 55 minutes, the album brings Old Norse traditions to life and takes the listener on a trip like few albums nowadays manage to.
By combining all he has done so far in his career, Daemonskald has crafted a masterpiece of folk metal. An album that feels true to its roots and brings to life the grandeur and the darkness of ancient Norse mythology. This Canadian somehow finds more passion in Northern legends than any modern European band I have had the chance of hearing.