Review: Nytt Land ‘Torem’

I reviewed the last Nytt Land record, Ritual, back in 2021 and was spellbound in their Siberian neofolk world. I had spent several months getting into the scene at that time and Nytt Land were just a new addition to my catalogue of authentic, Nordic folk revivalism. So, when the opportunity came to review their latest effort, Torem, I jumped straight in and it’s out now through Napalm Records.

Nytt Land 'Torem' Artwork
Nytt Land ‘Torem’ Artwork

Ritual was a slow burn record for me, as it was the first Nytt Land record I had experienced. Torem is much more of a known quantity now, forging further along the same path as its predecessor. Olenmet feels like more than a mere introduction, more like the shaman at the entrance to the forest, giving you a taste of what ancient memories are within. Torem is an album that is darker than previous, a hypnotising ancestor worship ritual of its own. The intoxicating vocals of Natalia Pakhalenko in the oddly melodic Nord are a highlight, possessed of a certain atonal ethereality.

What Torem, much like Ritual had been, is a flowing singular entity, where the separate songs may stop and start but the overall atmosphere and authenticity never does. This is a primal sort of music, one that awakens genetic memories in people of events we could never have participated in and yet they feel real to us. It had never felt more apparent to me as it did when I sat with the title track rolling over me in waves of melodic tribalistic bliss. The percussion is the key, a tribal beating that reverberates within you and that is what maintains your focus on the music.

Nytt Land are a stunning proposition for those of us with dark Nordic folk in our hearts…

As the beginnings of a new trilogy about the journeys and teachings of shamanistic traditions in their native Siberia, this is yet another rebirth in the endless cycle of the worlds. Torem is a masterful interpretation of ancient traditions in ancient languages, combining Khanty and Old Norse with the ancient Finno-Ugric languages of their homeland. The mesmerising Johem Ar is very Wardruna like in its insistent, repetitive tones, while the gloomy darkness of Manito is incredibly eerie.

A friend of mine described it as ‘part album, part soundtrack’, and that’s such an apt point. It is a soundtrack to a millennia-old tradition that has been given new life by bands like Nytt Land, a retelling of tales as old as time itself. We get the ravens on Huginn ok Muginn, messengers of Odin and an image of the Great Sky to which the album’s title translates. The mythology of the North is something that Nytt Land‘s music is deeply connected to, its roots delving deep into old soil and snow scarred skies.

Torem is an album that is almost more about the feel than the music. The aura it gives us, the pervasive enveloping spirit of ancient culture and authenticity is incredibly powerful and affecting. While the world of metal is obsessed with dark music through heaviness and brutality, there are few things as naturally dark and ominous as records like this. Nytt Land are a stunning proposition for those of us with dark Nordic folk in our hearts.

Label: Napalm Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Sandy Williamson