Sunday, July 31, 2022

EP Review: Grendel's Sÿster "Myrtle Wreath/Myrtenkranz" (Independent, Cruz Del Sur) by Dave Wolff

Band: Grendel's Sÿster
Location: Stuttgart
Country: Germany
Genre: Metal, folk metal
Format: Digital, CD, vinyl
Label: Independent, Cruz Del Sur
Release date (Independent): October 1, 2019
Re-release date (Cruz Del Sur): September 25, 2020
When I reviewed Bergfried a week ago, the term “medieval metal” was new. I mentioned that band took chances with their music and writing material that can’t easily be compared to other subgenres, especially those subgenres that require too many descriptive words. Grendel's Sÿster takes this even farther, being what Iron Maiden or Helloween would be if they blew back as a folk-Celtic metal band. Renaissance music, pre-classical music and romantic vibes have a much greater presence on “Myrtle Wreath/Myrtenkranz”.
The band is named after a major antagonist in “Beowulf”, an epic Old English poem composed sometime between 975 and 1025 A.D. Written in a similar style to Germanic legend, it takes place in sixth century pagan Scandinavia. The character Grendel is depicted as a creature of darkness, a destroyer and devourer of humankind, feared by everyone in the land of Heorot. Often the subject of debate and constant re-interpretation, his legend as Beowulf’s adversary has endured all this time. Suggesting Grendel had a sister who was never known to exist is fitting for the relentless and savage caliber the band displays on their EP.
Grendel's Sÿster began in a secluded area in France’s Vosges Mountains region, away from clubs, recording studios, record labels, zines and other musicians. The self-imposed isolation surrounding these beginnings is evident in the personal nature of their work as they’re inspired by bands like Manowar and Lordian Guard, folk musicians like Svanevit and Kebnekajse and baroque guitarist Rolf Lislevand. You can almost see the vast mountain range in their songwriting, which is otherworldly and timeless, but feels like metal. This band is on their way to reformulating the concepts of folk metal and pagan metal, not to mention female fronted metal.
“Myrtle Wreath/Myrtenkranz” is not only viscerally energizing, but its capacity for telling epic tales is equally effective thanks to vocalist Caro whose intonation and diction adds a great deal of depth to a narrative borrowing from several cultural and historical sources. It’s hard to believe this is her first gig since she sounds quite seasoned as a vocalist and her application to singing metal is developing in an authentic and resourceful way. She has a bold and aggressive style that doesn’t lose its melodic qualities even when she’s at her harshest. Caro also crosses language barriers by singing each track composed for the EP in English and German.
Classic rock and doom metal fans may want to give Grendel's Sÿster a chance. We have many transitions from one mood to another and firm bonding of metal, folk and proto-metal like Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple and Rainbow. The EP’s climate varies by the legends pointed to in each song, but everything is as reinvigorated as when Quorthon and Bathory recorded “Nordland” and “Nordland II” and when Mithotyn, Skyforger and Ihsahn began exercising their vision to grow beyond the black metal of the early 90s. The ingenuity Grendel's Sÿster put into it creates a freshness that won’t disappoint you. –Dave Wolff

Caro: Vocals
Tobi: Guitar, bass
Till: Drums

Track list:
1. Agnicayana (Intro)
2. Vishnu's Third Stride
3. Little Wildling Bird
4. Entoptic Petroglyphs
5. Winnowing the Chaff
6. Count and Nun
7. Indra's Jewelled Net
8. Cairns
9. Agnicayana (Intro)
10. Vishnus Dritter Schritt
11. Wildvögelein
12. Entoptische Petroglyphen
13. Worfelschwung
14. Graf und Nonne
15. Indras Juwelennetz
16. Steinmännlein

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