Myrkgrav – “Skjøn jomfru (Norwegian version)” (Video Premiere)
Folk metal gets a bad rap. Granted, a genre overrun with nerdy basement dwellers who show up at shows in furs and viking helms (early Paganfest runs were interesting) is bound to have its vast collection of lemons, but this intersection's shining moments exude a special, ancestral power which is all but lost in more "popular" examples which prefer theatrics over performance. Take, for example, Norway's (now Finland) Myrkgrav, who last appeared one decade ago with the near perfect Trollskau, skrømt og kølabrenning. You know how it goes with these albums, nostalgia is one hell of a handicap when it comes to revisiting music, but Myrkgrav's earlier work holds up. Now, one decade later, sole musician Lars Jensen re-emerges from a frustration-driven, punctuated hibernation to offer the world an explosive "farewell" to the Myrkgrav moniker.
Opening Takk og farvel; tida er blitt ei annen (roughly: Thanks and farewell; times have changed) is the catchy and triumphant "Skjøn jomfru." As far as the intersection of melodic, blackened metal and Norwegian folk goes, Myrkgrav treads the standardized middle ground. Standard, of course, could be a dirty word, but this is not "commonplace" or "average" - Jensen beautifully weaves traditional melodies, performed on what I can only guess to be a hardanger fiddle, with stately metal in a fashion which offers one as a complement to the other. There is enough historic material here to add melodic intrigue and a sort of "drunken camaraderie" which characterizes some of the more upbeat, happier Nordic folk songs, but Jensen, as always, tastefully melds it with smooth, brackish execution. Sure, it might make you want to don your favorite traditional Bunad and dance a bit, but solely out of pure joy and not some sick irony. Myrkgrav has and always will be the real deal, and I'm going to miss that.
Myrkgrav offers a fond farewell with Takk og farvel; tida er blitt ei annen via Pest Productions and all streaming services (Spotify, Youtube, et cetera) on October 27, which marks ten years following the initial release of Trollskau, skrømt og kølabrenning. Take a fond trip down memory lane and have an exclusive first listen to "Skjøn jomfru" with some very insightful artistic commentary below.
From the artist:
The song itself is probably the first one I recorded for Myrkgrav following the Trollskau album, sometime in 2007. Following Myrkgrav tradition, there has been a re-arranged traditional folk song on both albums, and this is it.
Made famous in modern times by the Norwegian folk rock band Folque in 1974, it is a traditional medieval ballad that is fairly well known all through Europe in various forms.
While the last traditional folk song Myrkgrav did, "De to spellemenn", was pretty straightforward, "Skjøn jomfru" features aspects that make it more true to a proper folk song, such as the inclusion of the Hardanger fiddle and pixie flute. In my arrangement, parts have also been added that are nowhere in the original. This, in an attempt to further strengthen the fact that Myrkgrav plays a proper fusion of folk and metal - in my opinion what folk metal de facto should be - not just just metal inspired by folk music.
Here are the lyrics, both in Norwegian and English:
"Ei jente stod på fjelltopp
og såg ned den djupe dalen
Der såg’a et skip kom seilandes, kom seilandes
Tre grever var om bord
Den aller yngste greven
som var på skipet der
Han ville seg trulova, trulova
Med hu så ung’a var
Så drog’n tor fingen sin
en ring av gull så rødt
Ta den, ta den du venen min
ta den og bli så min
Men da greven var bortrest
kom en annen kar
som hennes hjerte sku vinne, sku vinne
og døm kom så væl overens
Greven trødde i brudehuset
og ba bruden opp tel dans
Der dansa døm på gølvet omkring, så snedelig
og hu bleikna som et lik
Si meg, hvorfor vart du så bleik
hvorfor er du vørtin så blå?
Fordi døm andre har narra meg, har narra meg
og sagt at du var dau
Ja, har døm andre narra deg
og sagt at jeg var dau
da skal du få se meg dau
før sola renner ned
Greven gjekk på kammerset inn
låste døra etter seg
Så tok’n fram sin kvasse kniv, sin kvasse kniv
og forkorta så sitt liv
Hør nå jenter alle
hør min beste venn
Du tala med to tunger, i samma munn
og hadde begge kjær"
"A maiden stood on mountaintop
gazed down the valley so deep
She saw a sailing ship approach, ship approach
Three counts were onboard
The youngest of the counts
who were on board the ship
He wanted to take the hand, take the hand
of the young maiden
He took off his finger
a ring of gold red
He said take this my dear friend, my dear friend
Take this and be mine
When the count had travelled abroad
came another man
who wanted to steal her heart, her heart
and they got along so well
The count arrived at the wedding
and asked the bride to dance
They danced so lovely around the floor
and she paled liked a sheet
Tell me why are you so pale
why are you so blue?
Because the others have fooled me, have fooled me
and told me you were dead
Well if the others have fooled you
and told you I was dead
then you shall see me dead, see me dead
before the sun sets
The count went back to his chamber
locked the door after himself
Then he took out his shiny knife, his shiny knife
and ended his own life
Hear me all maidens
hear me, my best friend
You spoke with two tongues in your mouth
and had them both in love"
Follow Myrkgrav on Facebook.