Eliwagar surged into my life last Autumn with Fra Hjertet av Norden — a lovely pagan folk album that stuck to me like the last embers of Summer in the desolate season that followed. With their latest album Gryningen, Eliwagar have evolved into more of a metal influenced act, although the Pagan folk style is still the backbone of the songs. Runahild is still the mastermind behind Eliwagar, but is accompanied by her husband Bjørn Dahl, Roar Ruus Finsås and Wargnar. Hildir Valkyrie makes a guest appearance on two tracks — “I Den Vakre Gylne Glød” and “Northern Dawn” — and Nils Ailo Sara Labba plays lead guitar on “Gryningen” and “Heimstavn”.
This album revisits some of the older songs from Fra Hjertet av Norden, but adds a more rock and metal approach to the pagan folk. Most of the time, this works flawlessly by adding a bit more power to the otherwise serene and rural tracks. However, some of the tracks that have been reinvented feels a bit odd in their new shape and will probably receive divided impressions from those previously familiar with Eliwagar’s music. The songs of this album reek with atmosphere and, as a dedication to our Northern heritage, the lyrics are golden. “I Høstfavnen” in particular is a song about longing and a grim reminder of the cycle of life, a cycle we all will attend no matter faith or class. Another beautiful track is “Når Nordlys Danser”, which really breathes of forlorn majesty and tells the story of a Völva who meets with the ancestors, dancing amongst the shimmering Northern lights. Overall, the lyrics are very well written and, should you speak Scandinavian, you have more to gain on the wonderful language of the North. Another highlight is the song “Skumringen og Nordlys”, which adds an almost ritual rhythm and chant to the album.
When it came time to deliver a verdict, I found Gryningen to deliver more of the same familiar magic that is Eliwagar, but with a tangible change. The folk metal / rock was a bit odd at first, but as time passed I came to grow on the new interpretations of I Den Nordiske Vinterklem and Håleygirland. Sure, this is a new evolutionary path of the Pagan folk that I first encountered in the Autumn of 2012, but the songs really work in the new medium and it is a brand new path to be explored for Runahild and her companions. In the end, I highly recommend you to check out Eliwagar if you are into bands such as Falkenbach, Hildir Valkyrie and — at least to a point — Korpiklaani.
01) Månelys Over Granskog og Tåke
03) Mellom Fjord og Fjell
04) I Den Vakre Gylne Glød
05) Skumringen og Nordlys
06) I Høstfavnen
09) Når Nordlys Danser
10) I Den Nordiske Vinterklem
11) Northern Dawn