Sigh. I sometimes wonder why some bands just seem to pluck their names out of thin air. Specifically, one that already exists multiple times all across the globe. This spells a wealth of potential troubles and not only for this infamous trademark thing. It is also an SEO nightmare waiting to happen. But hey, who cares as long as we are having fun and you got mead by the barrel, right?
So, lo and behold, whenever I search for Kyn on the mighty net that governs our lives, first I find Cleveland Deathcore, then Electro from Oakland, Alt-Rock from Iceland, or – again – a choir located in Finland of all things. And on it goes, down that infamous list. A true Tower of Babylon that risks driving future fans to despair. But – alas – no sign of these folks here who just released their newest record Earendel.
Now, this Kyn here hail from Switzerland and they boast a pretty refreshing brand of Pagan Folk. A somewhat wild mix of the history amplifiers of Heilung, Faun of Germany and the corny mysteries of Kanseil. And why am I not surprised to find Wardruna as one of their influences of sorts as well.
The fact that Kyn include mythologies from the North, but also from the Mediterranean adds to their allure. And the statement that they chant about – and I quote – “…the influence of the Normans and the Germans in Sicily…”, jacked the attention level of the RMR deck crew up a few notches.
True to the band’s credo, Earendel departs with some shamanic chanting (or something like it) right from the start of Kamprab. With some pretty decent drumming, strumming and howling to back that up. Complete with oriental and North American rhythms. Which should probably set them apart from the mean pagan and medieval crowd. Or something.
But they need not fear. I truly appreciated the variety on this record. The band embarks on a pretty lusty tune of Pagan Folk with all sorts of archaic instruments, with a few of the aforementioned oriental samples mixed in for good sport. Plus some faster beat with a bunch of Electro inclusions.
Yep, that’s right. We got the horrible, drummy plastic synthie monster lurking in the shadows of archaic medieval song-smithing.
You see, I dig the need to separate yourself from a worn-out genre. Yet with electronics involved, Kyn risk to fall into this dangerous rabbit hole that leads to the pit of awful pop or the sweetness of an overblown, sweetishly cheesy version of faux Folk Rock. And by Loki and his minions, they’ll for sure lose the purists who will never forgive them for this particular sin. Yet for now and luckily, they keep the synthie pollution at bay and at acceptable levels, but just barely.
Ida Elena‘s smoky, elastic, and pretty awesome delivery constantly reminded me of Steva (Deathless Legacy). Both ladies boast a similar timbre and do share this penchant for boundless energy. Even if sometimes things get a bit shaky at the upper ends of Ida Elena’s reach. But she nonetheless drives this forward with gusto and a lot of savoir-faire, together with her band of truly seasoned medieval bards.
I do have just one request, though. Don’t ever let her murder German again, as she did in La Leggenda di Colapesce. This just won’t do and truly made me cringe. And besides, methinks the band’s got enough potential coaches in its ranks. So, get to work, boys and girls.
With all this goodness surrounding us, it is truly a pity that Earendel is plagued with this scratchy mix. This sometimes sounds like some patchwork roughly stitched together that never quite got ironed out. This led to a lot of head-scratching over here. On one hand, we have great talent at work all over that band. On the other, we suddenly get these mishaps that should not be there in the first place.
But look at the bright side. Earendel has a lot to speak for itself. We much enjoyed the old legend of Colapesce, the boy-fish holding up that third pillar of Sicily. Or that pretty juicy representation of the age-old Herr Mannelig (also known as Bergatrollets Frieri). For which many an interpretation exists. Like the one from Die Irrlichter and their album Zaubergarten, In Extremo or – again – Midnattsol.
In the end, Kyn offers a lusty, varied and pretty strong performance. Earendel combines the archaic with modern beats. Northern myths with Sicilian legends. Oriental sounds mixed into the ubiquitous hurdy-gurdy. Solos of Spanish guitar rhythms, flutes and what have you. So, in short, a mix that comes across as refreshing in a genre that is kinda set in its ways, and does not like change too much.
And this quality is the proverbial proof of the pudding. The way Kyn present their fare really held the RMR deck crew’s attention longer than it should have. With a piece that finally warrants a full review for what is essentially an EP. And that does not happen very often.
Now for all of you Pagan Folk adepts out there, by all means, give Kyn and their Earendel a good listen. This is a refreshing tune, and they got promise.
Album release: 30 October 2019.
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