Leidungr’s heathen dawn aflame

LEIDUNGR: Gryning flammar

Release year: 2021
Label: SkullLine

Swedish “nordic ritual folk” project Leidungr have been rather prolific during their career: Discogs lists 18 releases, out of which 17 are listed as albums, since 2013. In fact, since the release of this CD in 2021, the duo of H. Möller and P. Ståhl have released a further two albums – though only digitally, as the majority of Leidungr’s releases seem to be.

The name H. Möller might ring a bell – he is after all also a member of both Puissance and Arditi, leading proponents of martial industrial music. And, truth be told, there are many similarities here especially in comparison to the latter of the two.

So what is “Nordic ritual folk”? Well, I’ll tell you one thing: it isn’t folk. Not traditional folk, not neofolk. I suppose a pretty good description would be to call this an amalgamation of dark ambient, martial industrial and some folk instrumentation/soundscapes. At least Gryning Flammar is not necessarily so much ritualistic, as it is cinematic and broodingly atmospheric.

Fans of Arditi will probably feel instantly at home here: there are many similarities in the dark sonic landscapes, the powerful percussive elements and the majestic atmospherics. Though there are many differences as well, Leidungr’s compositional structure and methods of building atmosphere seem to be similar to Arditi. Not to the point of Leidungr’s sound being interchangeable with Arditi, but enough to recognize the sonic fingerprint of shared members.

However, where Arditi extols the glory of Imperium and Traditionalism, of heroic combat in an age of glory, and of the passing of such things in our age of dissolution, Leidungr’s atmospheres are far more mystical and – indeed – nordic. Through elements such as folk violin and the haunting herding calls known as kulning, Leidungr root their expression deeply into a nordic spirit.

And though percussive elements, and orchestral stabs used in an almost percussive manner, have a prominent role on Gryning Flammar, as they do with Arditi, they do not give a similar military rhythm to the music. Instead, Leidungr puts more focus on a haunting, evocative dark ambience that speaks of majestic mountains sheathed in mists and clouds, of untouched ancient landscapes and the majesty of the northern wilderness – but also of the esoteric mysteries of its people and the hidden meanings of their myths.

In a way, it feels that Leidungr completes Puissance and Arditi. Where Arditi is of Tradition and Imperium (in rather Evolian terms), and Puissance is of the Kali Yuga and nihilism evoked by this age, Leidungr is of the mythic reality and spiritual tradition. And most certainly, it does complete or at least complement the two aforementioned in the sense that if Arditi and Puissance are your cup of tea, Leidungr will also be.

Gryning Flammar is a stylish piece of nordic heathen mysticism clad in a dark ambient and martial industrial guise. Laden with hauntingly majestic sonic vistas and atmospheres echoing the heathen mysteries of the past, it is an album suited both for concentrated listening and background music.

In short, Gryning Flammar amply testifies of Leidungr being a worthy continuation to the body of work begun with Arditi, to which there are several similarities.

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