Hardingrock (named after the Norwegian national instrument, the Harding fiddle) is an avant-garde, folk/metal project that consists of Ihsahn (Emperor, Peccatum), Heidi S. Tveitan (StarofAsh, Peccatum), and famed Norwegian fiddler Knut Buen. Be warned that Grimen is not a traditional black metal recording by any means. This is an artistic foray into culture consisting of electronic and acoustic elements that navigate highly articulate, classically influenced melodies and structures whilst simultaneously providing a generational bridge to connect the past to the future. It should also be mentioned that all the vocals and spoken word (songs 1, 4, 7, & 10) are in Norwegian; providing mature and expressive range to the identity of the project.
Leaving the metal comfort zone and looking at the songs collectively, many of them are based on variable harmonic structures that recall an almost "pastoral" feel of a world unhindered by excess. This is especially true in the songs with prominent violin as heard in "Huldreslatten" & "Den Bergtekne". Beyond the use of normal elements, Hardingrock is really about communicating heritage through musical prose and listening to the symphonic grandeur of "Fanitullen" & "Faens Marsj" you find the band conveying that message with a soloist musical perspective where each individual motif has a distinctive voice that encourages diversity, while striving for equality and relevance. In short, you are just hit with wave after wave of evolving contrast. What is interesting is that these folkloric melodies influenced no other than composer Edvard Grieg, whose name celebrates a popular recording hall coveted by Norwegian black metal musicians. This is the very hall that Emperor used for the creation of Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. Again, it is all about connection.
In moving closer towards the closing of this musical observance, it is not of my intent to imply that there are not as many modern/contemporary elements to the cd as the romantic ones that I have focused more on in the review. The signature croak of Ihsahn is certainly there in ample measure as are the captivating/majestic vocals of wife Heidi Tveitan in the songs "Daudingen", "Den Bergtekne" & "Fossegrimen". Finally, in "Nykken" you are greeted with the sound of swelling relaxation; permeating into scratchy rhythms and ending in an instrumental where purpose never sounded so mesmerizing. The rest is for your own journey of discovery.
Grimen (Out: Sept.25th) is challenging, highbrow and rewarding listening experience delivered with a production that is clear, full and expansive. This is a profound exploration and declaration of ones heritage delivered through the passages of musical medium. The reason for such an elevated standing is something earned through vision and fortitude. All those involved have truly created something peerless and unique.
3. Faens Marsj
4. Margit Hjuske
5. Den Bergtekne
6. Faen Pa Bordstabelen