Lumsk - Fremmede Toner

(CD 2023, 59:17, Dark Essence Records)

The tracks:
  1- Det Døde Barn(04:50)
  2- En Harmoni(05:11)
  3- Avskjed(02:32)
  4- Under Linden(04:29)
  5- Fiolen(02:20)
  6- Dagen Er Endt(08:30)
  7- Das Tote Kind(06:13)
  8- A Match(04:30)
  9- Abschied(04:19)
10- Under Der Linden(04:10:,
11- Das Veilchen(03:44)
12- The Day Is Done(08:24)

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Norwegian band Lumsk bring us their own brand of progged-up, folk-metal, ethereal rock on latest release Fremmede Toner. The album title comes from a collection of poems via a Norwegian author by the name of André Bjerke. Naturally the band have taken these as inspiration and spun their own creative web around them, giving birth to something fresh and interesting in the process. The line-up on here consists of Mari Klingen (vocals), 'Espen Warankov Godø (keyboards), Siv Lena Laugtug Sæther (violin), Roar Grindheim (guitars), Eystein Garberg (guitars), Espen Hammer (bass) and Vidar Berg (drums). The brilliant artwork by Per Spjøtvold perfectly complements the light and shade of the music within. It's been sixteen years since their last album, so was it worth the wait?

Det Døde Barn introduces us to the band's quirky, musical concoctions, starting things off in style. It's full of the majestic keys, biting guitars, beautiful violins, sirenesque vocals with tight bass and drums that binds the whole album together. There's a good balance between emotions across all of their songs and from the outset you just know this is going to be a great listening experience. En Harmoni has this interesting rhythmic flow to it and really showcases their use of dynamics, effortlessly switching between headbangable chugging to delicate sweetness in a heartbeat. Next, clocking in under the three minute mark, it's Avskjed. There's an urgency to the music, as the keyboards swirl around and the violins cast a classy shadow on the metal edges - it's a rocking little number. Under Linden opens up like a beautiful valley in the morning sun (I particularly like the vocal performance on this one - expressive and powerful). The short, but sweet Fiolen follows. It's nice to have this as breathing space in amongst their more rocking moments and again shows the range this band have. Mixing things up for good measure next is Dagen Er Endt. It's one of the longer cuts on offer and is certainly my favourite on the album at the time of writing. There's some awesome guitar work on show and the song's climax sounds positively epic! The spooky opening of Das Tote Kind makes me feel like I'm driving through the fog towards a creepy, old house. Atmospheric piano soon cuts through before the song comes to a crunchy end. Such is the nature of this album that it allows the songs to flow in the most playful manner, delightfully enchanting the listener. The dual vocal approach on A Match adds a certain theatrical charm, as we're introduced to the vocals of Mathias R. Samuelsen for the first time. Just like the artwork, this song has two sides, starting off in gentle fashion before firing up in the second half. The energy levels are high on Abschied, making me want to dance in the most peculiar way (the rhythm demands it!). It's certainly this quirkyness that gives the band part of their charm. Under Der Linden starts off with some lovely key tinkering and just builds from there. The rhythm section is as reliably solid as ever, leading us smoothly into Das Veilchen which brings a certain melancholic touch to the whole thing. The guitar playing on this track really helps to lift the feeling up a little bit, tastefully placing colour and texture where needed. We then have the light and shade of The Day Is Done to see us out. Mathias returns once more to bring a powerful vocal performance to the track and the entire band bring the magic one last time. It's one of the longest songs on here, giving it room to be multifaceted and engaging. It really does close things in a powerful manner.

The band's fourth release is a beautiful thing. The combination of warmth and bite make for something rather quirky and special. To answer my question from the start, I believe this collection of songs is well worth the particularly long wait. Let's just hope there isn't such a big gap between this and any future release.

**** Rickalonius Monk

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