NYTT LAND – Ritual
Release Date: 06/08/2021
Running Time: 47:46
Review by Wallace Magri
Someone might say that my journey through different music styles, in my recent reviews, has gone way too far this time around. Because I ended up selecting, from Ever Metal’s list, a band from Siberia, Nytt Land, that play Shamanic Dark Folk Music, which is present all over “Ritual” – the seventh album from the duo, Natasha “Baba Yaga” Pakhalenko and Anatoly “Shaman” Pakhalenko.
But, as a matter of fact, I am very familiar with this kind of shamanic drumming, peculiar musical instruments and singing techniques, whose intention is to evoke the power of ancestral forces, basically for spiritual connection and healing – body, mind & soul, aligned with the spiritual world. You may ask me how the heck do I know about this stuff? Well, as most of you who read my reviews on Ever Metal already know, I am from Brazil and, in South America, we have a strong and powerful ancient folk tradition – that covers the Andes Mountains (Chile, Ecuador, Peru), all the way to the Rain Forest, where the native ethnicities perform Rituals that are quite similar to what is heard on Nytt Land’s album.
By the way, Sepultura gave a voice for native Brazilian tribes on the song ‘Kaiowas’ (from the 1993 album, “Chaos A.D.”), performed by the band with a native Indian tribe, in the middle of the Amazon Jungle! How could you possibly not love those guys from Sepultura!!! Here in Brazil, we also have adopted African ancient traditions and beliefs, called ‘Umbanda’ or ‘Candomblé’, that also perform rituals where mediums get direct connection to ethereal forces, through magic, helped by specific drumming techniques. The percussion sessions from Umbanda, hugely influenced Igor Cavalera (Sepultura’s drummer and founder member) on such songs as ‘Refuse/Resist’, and Max Cavalera played an African musical folk instrument – ‘Berimbau’ – on ‘Ratamahatta’, from Sepultura’s seminal album “Roots” (96).
Even though I’ve never met the Cavalera brothers on any occasion, the fact is, I also used to go those kind of Rituals, because I find myself astonished by how the shamans and babalorixás are able to evoke ethereal forces of Nature, guiding us through our deepest feelings, aligning our bodies in harmony with nature and spiritual forces, allowing us to comprehend ourselves and our role in the Universe and, hopefully, restoring our vital energy throughout Rites of Fire, everything protected by austere percussion and healing chants. (that’s our roots/bloody roots.. in Brazil, my friends!)
As I said before, according to their own traditions, that’s exactly what is heard on “Ritual”, an album that you should face as a dark and spiritual journey to keep in touch with the forces of nature and the spirits from the cold Siberian Forest. Judging by the video clip for ‘U-Gra’, I also figured out the resemblance to the South American and African ancient cultures, such as shamanic body painting, rudimentary clothing and ritualist dancing.
I have several playlists of Old Norse music, but “Ritual” caught my attention because they enable us to go through a full Siberian’s pagan Ritual, instead of the usual mix of folk music and heavy metal, performed by such bands as WARDRUNA, HEILUNG and RUNAHILD. All the songs on “Ritual” are performed exclusively with traditional instruments such as flutes, tagelharpa, horns and inserts of samples taken from live sounds of Nature – which make things even more realistic and authentic.
So, I dove in all the way and listened to “Ritual” about a dozen times, in different states of mind and absolutely loved what I experienced. It’s interesting because there are influences from the Mongol’s throat singing technique – with the purpose to connect with underworld forces that inhabit the frostbitten, dark and brooding woods of Siberia, as heard in the opening tracks, ‘Ritual’ and ‘The Fires of Ragnarok’, mixed with ethereal singing – that relate to the upper world – which completes the musical ambience with powerful tribal tambourine percussion, and with some of the aforementioned samples. Occasionally, Natasha sings in a more atmospheric neo Pagan style, to call the spiritual forces to take part in the Ritual.
‘Gróttasöngr’ and ‘Svartravn’ are based on “Poetic Edda” – the modern name for an untitled collection of Old Norse mythological anonymous poems, which goes back to 10th century shamanic tradition – in an ethereal ambience provided by atmospheric chants, bells, flutes and compassed percussion, driving the Ritual all the way to Valhalla, fearing no evil. The last song of “Ritual”, ‘Blood of the North’ is also influenced by Old Norse folk music, with the tagelharpa driving the listener to the end of the trance session in a melancholic funeral mood.
I could keep going on with my impressions on each song, but the main feel here is the impressive rawness, minimalism, purism and authenticity of the natural dark ambience provided by “Ritual”, taking Ambient Dark Folk music to the next level. It might sound a little bit frightening at first, but I can assure you that even so, it is still welcoming to the listener.
I highly recommend you listen to “Ritual’ in the proper environment, close to the woods; if that is possible, just light up a fire pit, get into a meditative mood, then focus on the drumming, chants and dark atmospheric ambience. Anyway, you shouldn’t fear spiritual force, unless you have unsolved questions with the underworld. Otherwise, go figure out the shamanic culture and enjoy the cold within for a while.
If you want to know more about Siberian Shamanism, I did a little research on the following website, which is very informative.
‘U-Gra’ (Official Video)
02. The Fires Of Ragnarok
03. The Birth Of A Shaman
04. Dead Man’s Dance
08. Blood Of The North
Natasha “Baba Yaga” Pakhalenko – Vocals, Throat Singing, Drums, Percussion, Flutes, Programming
Anatoly “Shaman” Pakhalenko – Vocals, Throat singing, Tagelharpa, Mouth-Harp, Percussion, Horn, Programming
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