Windir

Picture of Windir

Sóknardalr

Windir - Sóknardalr ©1997 Head Not Found
1. Sognariket Sine Krigarar
2. Det Som Var Haukareid
3. Mørket Sin Fyrste
4. Sognariket Si Herskarinne
5. I Ei Krystallnatt
6. Røvhaugane
7. Likbør
8. Sóknardalr

Out of the four studio albums recorded by Windir, only Sóknardalr falls a bit short of the mark and much of that is simply because Windir's later discography is nothing short of spectacular. This debut found Windir recording as a two piece: Steingrim on drums and Valfar handling the rest of the instrumental duties. The resulting album features all the staples and trademark sounds of Windir, but with not so particularly great production or quite as developed songwriting.

Windir's sound was obviously well envisioned even by the debut, even if Valfar's songwriting hadn't reached its peak yet. The speedy, fluid black metal races from start to finish, though Windir understood the concept of dynamics far better than most of their peers. Valfar was already laying down looping, repetitive guitar leads over the rhythm base, as well as mixing it up between harsh black metal rasping and dramatic chants and choruses. However, what set Windir apart from the rest of the pack was the lack of black metal hoopla and blustering posturing of the time. By 1997, the scene was starting to gain traction worldwide beyond its original underground roots. While some bands preened and formulated ludicrious methods for getting attention, Windir simply presented an album of good music decorated with Scandanavian nature as a visual. The lack of pretension is remarkable and allows the music to speak for itself.

Beyond this very good, but slightly under-realized debut, Windir would improve with each and every release. The sheer brilliance of the final two studio albums is very possibly why I haven't even entirely warmed up to Sóknardalr. Valfar and his pals would only get better from this point. Despite all that, there are very few acts in the Scandanavian black metal scene who were consistently as enjoyable as Windir throughout their short existence.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2009

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Arntor

Windir - Arntor ©1999 Head Not Found
1. The Beginning
2. Arntor, A Warrior
3. The Burial Mound Of King Hydnes
4. The Blacksmith And The Troll Of Lundamyri
5. The Struggle
6. The Longing
7. Ending

Although the band name can easily be used in very horrible jokes ("Hey Clem, you got bird poop on your windir there!"), Windir is one of the finest epic black metal bands to ever throw a snowball in Scandanavia. The sheer glut of bands playing black metal requires a lot of sifting to find the real gems so I am here to report that Windir is one shining example of what this music is supposed to be all about.

So granted, band leader Valfar hasn't committed aggregious crimes against the Judeo-Christian empire (that we know of) and the imagery of the band is more pastoral than evil, but Windir's ability to write stunning, memorable music is something that most of the other bands will never grasp. Arntor is all about being triumphant, epic, grand, and majestic. The good news is that unlike, oh, Bal-Sagoth, there is utterly nothing maudlin or goofy about it. This is the difference between inspiring your calvary with one hundred blaring trumpets and a beat up boombox with a blown woofer. You can quickly figure out which army will win today's battle.

The lengthy songs on Arntor are well structured. The interplay between keyboards, guitar, clean and rasped vocals all are done quite superbly, without ever giving the listener the feeling that he's heard this a thousand times before. One can gripe about the thin production, but within a couple minutes you should get used to it. If you can't, then there's something wrong with you, not the CD. By the end of the CD, you should feel all sorts of exaltant and victorious. Windir does an excellent job of keeping interest high throughout the CD.

Arntor, Windir's second release, is one of the two required albums from this project. It's simply remarkable in every aspect.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2005

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1184

Windir - 1184 ©2001 Head Not Found
1. Todeswalzer
2. 1184
3. Dance Of Mortal Lust
4. The Spiritlord
5. Heidra
6. Destroy
7. Black New Age
8. Journey To The End

Three albums in, Windir finally hit their stride in both terms of songwriting and sound quality. 1999's epic Arntor was quite a fine release, though it ultimately suffers a bit due to a thin production quality. 1184 fixes that problem, offering a great sound quality to match Windir's musical vision.

The fluid kinetic high speed nature of Windir is certainly one of the most enjoyable aspects of the band's sound. Mixing in elements of space rock and folkish tendencies, Windir creates a distinctive style that sets them apart from the pack. 1184 is a strong album from start to finish, although a couple songs have a tendency to bog down just a little bit. Like Arntor, 1184 strives for an epic feel, although the infusion of keyboard sections gives the album more of an astral feel. I wouldn't exactly say members of Hawkwind showed up and hijacked the recordings, but there is a certainly an aspect of that variety of music involved. Windir's chief visionary, Valfar, shows his ability to weave memorable melodic tapestries together over the rampaging flowing river of high speed drumming and guitar playing. The album finishes out by seguing into a keyboard, arpeggio based transcendetal feeling song in "Journey to the End", which could possibly be my favorite Windir track of all the band's work.

1184 stands as just another example of Windir's brilliance in the black metal world. There's absolutely no posturing or outlandish comic book elements to Windir, which means all the focus goes into creating great music.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2007

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Likferd

Windir - Likferd ©2003 Head Not Found
1. Resurrection Of The Wild
2. Martyrium
3. Despot
4. Blodssvik
5. Fagning
6. On The Mountain Of Goats
7. Dauden
8. Ætti Mørkna

Although the nebulous field of black metal is chock full of enthusiastic bands who simply fail to measure up in the ears of discriminating listeners, every so often a band erupts out of the cluttered field that deserves more than a precursory notice. Windir is one such band. This Norwegian outfit doesn't obstensibly do anything that is truly innovative, nor do they rewrite the manual on extreme metal. Instead, they simply write outstanding songs that command attention through good tunes.

Windir's formula is a dose of early Enslaved, a Primordial sense of epic culture and a great amount of fluid speed and energy. Likferd, the band's fourth album, is a rush of adrenaline throughout its entire duration. Windir's approach isn't particularly novel, but it works extremely well. Their songs are based on fast, smooth riffing, secondary semi-melodic leads, standard black metal rasp, keyboard undercurrents, and sprinting drumming. On the surface, it's very simple, yet the songs are arranged in ways that are perpetually propelling themselves forward. Windir uses occasional folkish touches, but they are used sparingly for more impact. Clean chanting appears on the CD, but very rarely. Instead, the band relies on the thrill of playing fast paced music and snappy arrangements to get their point across. Highlights are numerous, but standout tracks include "Bloddsvik" and "Dauden".

This is by far one of the most fun and romping releases I've heard this year. It's the kind of thing that will lead to speeding tickets if played in the car stereo, as any listener with a functional heartbeat will feel compelled to speed right along with the frenzied drummer. Likferd is quite straightforward and quick to digest, yet entirely fulfilling.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2003

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Valfar, Ein Windir

Windir - Valfar, Ein Windir ©2004 Tabu Recordings
Disc One:
1. Strid
2. Stridsmann
3. Dans På Stemmehaugen
4. The Profound Power
5. Dauden (Performed by: ENSLAVED)
6. Ending (Performed by: FINNTROLL)
7. Mørkets Fyrste (Performed by: E-HEAD)
8. Destroy (Performed by: NOTODDEN ALL STARS)
9. Likbør (Performed by: WEH)
10. Svartasmeden og Lunnamyrstrollet
11. Blodssvik
Disc Two:
1. Soge II – Framkomsten
2. Krigaren Si Gravferd
3. Sognariket Sine Krigarar
4. Byrjing
5. Arntor, Ein Windir
6. Saknet
7. 1184
8. Journey To The End
9. Martyrium
10. Fagning
11. On The Mountain of Goats
12. Sòknardalr

It absolutely stinks that this release exists. In case you aren't aware, Windir was the project of Terje "Valfar" Bakken, who essentially was Windir in his role as songwriter. Windir released four studio albums, each one showing great improvement to the point where Windir was poised to become one of the true illuminaries of the folkish black metal world. Unfortunately, in early 2004, Bakken got lost in a bad snowstorm in his native Norway and died of hypothermia, a truly tragic situation, especially for his family. The metal world might have been robbed of a young, impressive musician, but he was a son and brother to a bereaved family. This compilation is a tribute and farewell to Valfar.

Rather than opting for a simple compilation, this release compiles music from a wide variety of source for something truly unique. The double CD set includes a couple new recordings, some rerecordings, demo tracks, live tunes and five Windir songs covered by other musicians. To make it more interesting, E-Head's take on "Mørkets Fyrste" is all electronic (and very well done, I might add). Finntroll's run-through of "Ending" is appropriately bouncy and energetic. The live tracks have good sound quality. I'm not as keen on the demo recordings, simply because I'd often rather hear a band once they're past the embryonic stage, but that's just me. The compilation finishes out with a selection of tracks from the studio releases, revisiting the songs that put Windir on the map in the first place.

As I said earlier in the review, it's a shame that this compilation exists in the first place. Windir was poised to become something truly special and tragedy sadly intervened. However, as a farewell to a talented young man, this is about as good as you can get. Fans of Windir absolutely should get ahold of a copy and even those who were curious about the outfit can find plenty to appreciate throughout.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/2008

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