ALBUM REVIEW: Nytt Land – Torem

Nytt Land rip the balls off a Siberian tiger (no wild animals were injured for the purposes of this review) with the adventurously ambient, spirited and spiritual Torem (Napalm Records). Elemental, wild and ancient. Throat singing, Finno-Ugric languages. The kind of old-world wisdom the new world craves. 


There’s a fine line, tho, with this kind of “cosmic” stuff. Is it a) Shamanic or b) Sham? a) Truth or b) Spoof? a) Excalibur or b) Monty Python And The Holy Grail? For me, Torem ticks all the a) boxes – Shamanic, Truth, Excalibur (more about Excalibur, later). 


As for the “Truth”, Nytt Land take us back, way back … back when music was a “simple” drum, when deer stones cropped up, primitive monuments were erected globally, echoing relevant and resonant sound in a particular way, or welcoming the sun and the stars in a VERY particular way. When “music” meant much more than Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and/or Billie Eilish. Let me try to explain, as we dig our way through a pile of skulls and delve deeply into the steaming guts of the album known as Torem.



Is it dark folk? Is it doom? Is it metal? Is it flogging a dead Norse? Either way, I thoroughly recommend this captivating, melancholic soundscape. Sigur Ros, eat dirt (no Icelandic collectives were humiliated for the purposes of this review).


Nytt Land, i.e.: Natasha “Baba Yaga” and Anatoly Pakhalenko, on the go since 2013, deliver their latest magnum opus, a primal, supremely poised and very, very carefully considered suite of music. A hypnotic, transcendental journey, as magic as it is mental, with the contrast and interplay between the male and female voices key.


The percussive, droning and melodic “Nord” deals, they say, with the cycle of life, death and rebirth. “Risu Raknar” gallops off at an increased pace, with a more “modern” groove, while losing nothing of the ritualistic or mystical verisimilitude.


“Manito”, at 6:25, is the longest, most ethereal, most mysterious of the nine tracks, a song haunted by the toll of a bell. In the superb “Huginn Ok Muninn”, two ravens are endowed with speech (birds often unlock these age-old mysteries, dontcha know?). 


Trance tone. Indigenous, aboriginal. “Metal”, tho? Metal how? Well, that takes us back to the movie Excalibur (1981, directed by John Boorman). The soundtrack of that Arthurian epic was filled with bombastic, booming and vociferously vocal classical excerpts from Richard Wagner and Carl Orff, delighting those of us who, at the time, were listening to Van Halen, AC/DC, Blue Oyster CultSamson, Rush, Raven and, ahem, Pat Benatar


Those were heady times, indeed, but looking back again now, one of the greatest “metal” albums of that year was the soundtrack to Boorman’s Excalibur. Nytt Land, this accomplished, intelligent, respectful and righteous duo, may have pulled off a similar trick. There may not be an actual movie to back it up, but I would argue Torem could work as an alternative soundtrack to Mad Max 2, Mandy, The Northman, definitely Conan The Barbarian (the John Milius one, 1982), and even The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980). 


Enchanting, enthralling, spellbinding. Great sky, great spirit. “Anaal Nathrakh,” the charm of making. Stoned. Immaculate (no Grade A drugs were imbibed for the purposes of this review).


But the album here:


8 / 10