Hardingrock is the lovechild of three ever-talented Norwegian musicians: Ihsahn, one of the landlords of black metal, Ihriel, mistress of Star of Ash and Peccatum and fiddler Knut Buen, known as Grimen. They illustrate Norwegian folk tales and myths through a showcase of what can be considered modern folk music – a mix of metal and delicate electronics, in fusion with a traditional instrument as the Harding fiddle. The uniqueness of this project, reflected in its name – declaration of a new musical branch, is expressed through the deconstruction of the old folk songs chosen; then building them anew by rearranging and recomposing them in accordance with the musical vision that has been the lot of Ihsahn and Ihriel, e.g. heading for new dimensions of expression.
On this level, the project nurtured from the grand midwives of its creators. Hence there are the footprints of the late Peccatum and Star of Ash. Even slight shadows of the last great Emperor epos, all manifests in the melancholic yet progressive atmosphere. For example, sorrowful melodies lingers on a clam semi-electronic drumming by the super-drummer Asgeir Mickelson, letting the fiddle design the song as it will. The guitar brings forth once again the beloved Ihsahn touch, his unique handling of the strings. That intensive melody curving along with the fiddle, blends with it perfectly, as two actors leading a duo-play. Each of them is given in its time the lit center of the stage to display its abilities. The structures of the songs are divers and range from chillout-based tune such as “Paen Pa Bordstabelen” to “Fossegrimen”, which opens as a prog-black piece a-la late Emperor and turn into “Lost in Reverie”‘s Peccatum with a bewitching singing by Ihriel. Every song hides a twist within it, waiting to become alive by Midas touch of Buen’s fiddle or Ihsahn’s guitars (true, I’m addicted to the man’s music).
The best song in my opinion is “Faens Marsj”, an optimal exhibition of the project’s essence, where the sheer folk melody is sung out by Ihsahn’s guitars throughout the whole song within prog strumming, with delicate touches of piano and of course, dancing of the fiddle itself. We also get the chance to hear screaming and shivering from the master’s singing, like in the good old days.
As mentioned before, the songs are adaptations of famous Norwegian folk tales and as such, their epic side is also been shown, and so we can listen to Knut Buen telling a tale named “Margit Hjukse” that breaks into a short fiddle melody, yet intense with sadness that delivers the story of the girl Margit, who was captured by the mountain king and locked in his hall. Other short stories, deliver as spoken-word themes by Buen, only to end in his enchanting fiddle are “Grimen” and “Huldreslatten (Bygdatrean)”. In the English preface to the album, the project members indicate every story behind each song, enabling the non-Norwegians listeners to enjoy both, the background and new clothes given to the songs.
“Grimen” presents a new fashion of folk music, creating authentic and organic sounds with the help of ‘unnatural’ instruments, such as the programming and samples that enrich the album’s stratums. Hardingrock is another milestone in folk music, due to the musical vision of its creators, to stir old with new and to shine a fresh light on a field that seem chewed up. Moreover, this project is another vital part in the well-known chain of the Norwegian musical spheres that inhale the nature, and this is what captured me with this heritage and with this project, since the nature, on its varied faces, play a large role in the Norwegian culture, hence its musical interpreters are also characterized by their striving for drawing the land with sounds. Hardingrock are no different in this meaning, as they elegantly waking an ancient world to life and this resurrection in nothing but wonderful.
01 – Daudingen
02 – Fanitullen
03 – Faens Marsj
04 – Margit Hjukse
05 – Den Bergtekne
06 – Faen Pa Bordstablen
07 – Grimen
08 – Fossegrimen
09 – Nykken
10 – Huldreslatten (Bygdatraen)