When it comes to folk music, the real thing, nothing beats the power of the voice. Wardruna, the best example I had until now, has amazing vocal ranges to pair with the music and that’s what makes it so special in comparison with all the rest that have good music but no real vocal talent. The sound of the human voice is unmatched in its raw intensity, it’s emotional spectrum, and tonal ranges. Nowhere is this clearer than on Ten, kur krisim, the latest album from Ugniavijas, a group from Lithuania of which I recently became aware.
For all intents and purposes, the group is acapella with the occasional drum or string instrument as accompaniment. The real power, the real emotion comes from the voices of the men. There is such a range of emotions, each man brining a different feel to the words they are singing. I can feel nostalgia, pride, sorrow, anger, and sadness all wrapped up in their voices. Each voice as a different tone and each voice carries a power all its own. There are instruments, as I mentioned earlier, but they are merely meant to accentuate the sounds that the guys create.
Many, if not all, of the songs are old war songs native to Lithuania, and if I close my eyes and let the songs paint the pictures for me I can see men marching or gathered around a campfire as night rolls in. I can see the old, leathery faces of the veterans, their eyes reflecting years of pain and pride. I can see the faces of the young men, so eager to prove themselves and yet fearful of what is to come at the same time. I believe that this is only through the power and emotional range of the vocals, without such range the album would be good but not memorable. Even now, after having listened to the album and allowed it to sink in, I can still feel the voices reverberating in my head. It’s taken me a while now to find the words to say about the album. I felt like my review need to saturate itself in the sounds of the album to find the right words and finally I think I have.
I know most of my reviews are black metal or dark ambient but both of those genres would be nowhere if not for folk music and Ten, kur krisim is an excellent example of why I am of that opinion. You need not be well versed in Lithuanian history and folklore to see its beauty (though of course that doesn’t hurt).
Listen and support!