Huldre – Tusmørke (2016) – Review

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Landscapes shrouded in fog. Mystic swamps filled with goblins, and dark terrifying forests that start at the Danish border.


Well, not to my knowledge. But if you listen to some of the tunes breezing over to us from Daneland, one could believe it. 

Indeed last year, the stellar, but pitch dark Black Metal contribution of Myrkur appeared out of nowhere. And now Huldre comes along with songs from the twilight. And they even perform in a woody, leafy fashion on stage to top it. So, there you go, fits the forest theme, now does it? 

The fairies start flying once you start on Tusmørke! 

That, and the trolls wrestling about on the forest floor. It is funny, I am constantly reminded of Eluveitie. Albeit a much softer version of the latter’s style without the endless growling about the countryside. Actually, there are no growls at all on this dish. 

So, why am I not surprised that the Danish band Huldre won the 2014 Wacken Metal Battle Denmark? In truth, so far I have seldom seen a band weaving the archaic with the electronics of this world into such a skillful fabric. And the female lead yodeling away is just the irresistible cherry on this folksy pecan pie.

Huldre‘s brand of Folk Metal really serves you with a powerful mix of hurdy-gurdy, violin, cool percussion, a pretty sturdy bass, and meaty guitar riffs. This together with Nanna Barslev (Asynje, Gny) on vocals creates this special brand that makes them win prizes and nominations. And they collected a trove of them already in the relatively short time between the first 2012 full-length release and their newest album. 

What about the album?

Now, Tusmørke – their second self-released full-length album – does not really offer anything new in style. The album pretty much latches on to where Intet Menneskebarn – their first pot of magic potion – left off. It is however the increased maturity of production and delivery that is the most striking difference.

I am not sure what kind of magical herbs they used to entice their fans, but it is working. The magick sticks from the first ‘hold-on-a-second’ moment of discovery to the last drop of attention you must shed at the very end. Huldre master this almost visceral skill not only to keep your earphones on your head but to come back for seconds.

And this starts with Jagt, the very first track.

A thank you goes to the band that there is no intro, by Loki. Instead, they step right into this magical morass of theirs. The skill to mix well-balanced thumping hard guitar riffs and old instruments showcases well in Hindeham. You’ll even get a very short foray into the Black Metal universe, overwhelming the vocalist somewhat. Now, this continues in style with Varulv – kind of a ballad that really comes in at #1 of the like-list.

Many a Pagan and Folk Metal band goes for death-by-hurdy-gurdy and wild flute attacks on their fans. However, in Tusmørke the band finely contrasts their melodies at mid to faster paces, but always at the right speed and the right moment. And they master this delicate balance to marry modern and archaic instruments into a coherent mix.

The meaty, dark sound captivates well throughout, with never an element lost. Considerable credit goes to the mixing and mastering prowess of the LSD Studios in Lübeck, Germany. The studio worked with bands like the beer-swirling Alestorm, or with the reincarnation of the former called Gloryhammer.

Now, what else is there further down the tracklist?

None of the tracks are bad. And you’ll find no filler material either. Let me recommend the ballad-like tune of Fæstemand and the very last, epic spell called Nattersorg.

If you like your tune rockier and faster, you will for sure like Mørke or Underjordisk. The former even delivers something that – I believe – wants to be a solo.

Now, why did Tusmørke make me go for seconds at all?

First, Huldre created a mystical piece that really makes you go all green and leafy inside. The band’s outstanding grip on mixing well-balanced, catchy melodies with archaic and modern instruments is amazing. And amazingly well done, too. Tusmørke will captivate you from beginning to end with a meaty, but delicate Folk Metal tune seldom heard before.

I am impressed.

Ed’s note: This band split up in 2019 and is now defunct. Nanna Barslev, however, continued. The piece also made it onto the 2016 Top 10.

Record Rating: 9/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Official Site
Release date: 4 November 2016

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