Elk – Wōđanaz

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Label: Blackened Death Records

I sometimes feel that I often talk about the importance of repetition in music, and how many bands use it as a way of reaching for something hypnotic or transcendent, but without always achieving the desired results. Whilst that’s something I usually mention in a black metal context (probably due to how many bands are still in thrall to Burzum), neofolk act Elk are a great example of a band outside the metal scene using repetition to great effect. The three songs on Wōđanaz are heavy on repetition, cycling through what appear initially to be very basic structures and movements that reveal themselves, in time, to be surprisingly deep. The end result is so captivating and hypnotic, it’s hard not to be impressed. The songs are infused with a real sense of spirituality that, making this EP something that is very powerful and almost profound.

That spiritual, religious aspect is perhaps the strongest point of Wōđanaz. The heavy use of repetition, sparse music, and the often chanted or whispered vocals makes this feel like music designed for torch-lit pagan ceremonies and rituals, deep in the woods and shrouded by secrecy. As this might imply, there’s also a darkly majestic air to the music, something that’s enhanced by the subtle use of synths (as on “Neorxnawang”) and the strong sense of melody throughout, both in the music and in sole member Lord Villrein’s vocals. I’m especially fond of the bass melodies during “Against Christianity”. When wedded to lyrics exploring Paganism, death, and anti-Christianity, it has very impressive results.

The way the EP is built on repetition does mean it really lives or dies by how well it manages to pull you in to its atmosphere though, and I’m happy to say that – for me, at least – Wōđanaz is excellent at doing just that. And at just over 15 minutes long, nor does it risk over-staying its welcome. Wōđanaz is an excellent example of how to create and maintain a haunting, darkly religious atmosphere, and even though I’m not normally a big fan of neofolk, I am of this.

Wōđanaz is set for release on 26 August 2016, via the Blackened Death Records Bandcamp.

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