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Sound Advice: Disir, by Völur

Toronto folk-metal doomsters explore the feminine divine in their latest record.

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In ancient Norse society, some of the most powerful community members were known as “völur,” meaning “wand carrier” or “staff bearer.” Associated with the goddess Freyja, these women were considered seers and sorcerers and were consulted about critical decisions and called upon to exercise their considerable powers—indeed, Odin himself was said to have called upon them for aid. Also part of the Norse mystical tradition were the Disir—female spirits who acted as guardians of the home and were profoundly respected.

Appropriately, then, it is a sense of the feminine divine, the power of the goddess and the oracle, that ambient folk and doom metal band Völur attempts to conjure in its latest record, Disir. A combination of aching guitar distortion and wailing violin, raw folk melodies and twisted metallic execution, Disir is an exploration of the ritual and the sexual.

Recorded live by Bryan W. Bray of Gates and mixed by Ian Blurton at Progold Studios in Toronto, Disir is an attempt at invocation as much as conceptual exploration. Each of the four tracks explores a different element of femininity as represented in folklore and traditional narrative. Vocalist and violinist Laura C. Bates’s voice is endlessly changeable, suggesting in one track, for example, a deadly seductress and in another, a mystical crone.

While Völur gestures toward the doom and occult metal genre with some of its heavier aspects, there is a rawness, a profound tenderness around the edges of “The Deep-minded” that makes it both less sleek and more moving. Occasionally rough, with moments of snarling energy and a deep well of urgent, insistent vitality, Disir is an unexpectedly fresh piece of meaningful folk metal.

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