Marcel ‘Skald Draugir’ Dreckmann is well-known in the German metal scene for his work with Helrunar and Árstíðir lífsins. Both are excellent pagan-themed black metal bands. His most recent project Wöljager, however, ventures into acoustic territory.
Van’t Liëwen un Stiäwen (Of Life and Death) is a record that explores the local history of Münsterland—an area in northwestern Germany. All songs are sung in the language of Münsteraner Platt, which is the area’s local dialect—one that is currently unfortunately in danger of becoming extinct.
‘Vüörgeschicht’ (‘Prelude’) opens the album as a soundscape of strings and minimal guitar picking, leaving behind a Vinterriket-like cinematic impression of bleak landscapes. This is no coincidence: The entire album is based on the concept of a theatre play that was written by Dreckmann as well. It is a story about a Spökenkieker—a local saga figure who can foresee bad events in the future.
Seen as a whole, the songs appear as minimal compositions, mostly carried by a gentle acoustic guitar, subtle strings here and there, and Dreckmann’s warm, haunting voice. His clean vocal approach on Van’t Liëwen un Stiäwen provides a stark contrast to his equally impressive harsh vocals on every Helrunar album.
As the songs progress, they all carry melancholy with them at a comparatively slow tempo. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with visions of elements of nature as with most other quality neofolk albums: Here, I had the sense of withering flowers and fog creeping up on empty fields, both intensifying and clouding my imagination.
Two of Van’t Liëwen Un Stiäwen‘s songs strike me as remarkable: ‘Kuem to mi’ and ‘Up’n Likwäg’. ‘Kuem to mi’ moves along at a pace that is faster than its surrounding brethren, almost like a dancing song from old times. Its mood is equally different from the tracks that surround it. ‘Up’n Likwäg’ is fast as well, but never quite reaches the same jubilant tempo. It carries an entirely different atmosphere that is at once intense and eerie. Afterwards, the album continues with its melancholic atmosphere. The outro mimics the first track. It is easy to imagine the theatre actors leaving the stage to this sound wall of strings.
Van’t Liëwen un Stiäwen put me in a deeply melancholic mood. I was reminded of Empyrium’s classic album Weiland as well as some of Dornenreich’s acoustic compositions. I would recommend listening to the album from beginning to end in one go since most of the songs blend into each other with a similar style and atmosphere.
02) Van’t Liëwen un Stiäwen
03) Swatte Äer
06) Kuem to mi
07) Junge Dään
08) Üöwer de Heide
09) Up’n Likwäg
10) De aolle Schwatters Föert to’n Deibel
12) Dat Glas löp rask