* Please note translation to English were done with the magic of Google translate 

The Cutmen - Seconds Out (2011) 

 5.0 out of 5 stars

By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD
A return back in time, before there was a fork in the road, to moments composed of industrial experimentation before the formulaic machinery was installed, then instead of a trip operating inside the head - music turned into a standard walk up and down the fret board, dictated by the rules of heavy power rock, forever caught in a Pavlovian call and response. Industrial became founded upon behaviouristic cliches aiming to upset uptight mum and dad rather than carving out a private space.

This disc is founded on the early swirling ideas which SPK, Boyd Rice and TG pounded into distorted shapes - which is apt - one of the key architects of the era Z'ev - add his muscle to the frenzy. Harsh abrasive sounds, unsettling in their intensity, flow as sound washes, whilst a beat keeps the basic structure pounding into shape - sounding akin to an early Arkwright machine. This structure stops the bilic acid from eating through the speakers then leaving a trail of molten frenzy in its wake.

Each track is founded upon loops, samples (which are non danceable in any standard shuffle) as the sounds aim to distort the brain into some form of transcendence, with pieces of Gamelan, film scores and nightmare fragments shifting through the melee. The whole sounds more akin to early experimental SPK or TAGC.
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Rarely do I find so exciting productions such as The Cutmen that M (AKA Reeve Malka) band. Those who are not familiar with the name, to tell you that played with such names as Tony Jarboe Wake or Ford. He, too, as well as others, the eccentric musical publication belong. The band consists of more Z'ev percussion section is responsible, who turned around now Glenn Branca and Merzbow and conditions of Psychic TV as well, Stephen Flinn percussionist, drummer, who of contemporary music discs and project in on drums, and Giles Leaman also percussion-instrumental master who is just as contemporary jazz and experimental music discs played in the past.

No, but the important thing! Seconds Out of the 13 lots in a large amount of disk material. The team experimentalként tagged, but I prefer an ambient / experimental disc felt during the silence. The team thanks mainly percussion bells, cymbals, drums, voices, tinkling, and the noise of kattogásainak, zajfoszlányainak give voice to the plate frame, and these are added to a very dark, heavy, samplerezett speech sounds, noises. I have not found a completely rhythmically striking formulas in it, but it is very exciting, as the sounds, musical instruments are treated. Each section is listening when it seems as if kapcsolódnának together the pieces, then in principle nothing to do with each other. It is very exciting as it sounds seem chaotic at first but just make up something as a whole. Very, very strange, because after the first listen through I thought that I no longer sit for him. Then something began to rotate the turntable up and down the lines between order and sat back to listen. Maybe coincidence - if any - but the bounce has taken effect. The experimental music, was one of few that have been touched by so sudden, and I think, not just touched, they would understand. But I'm in favor of more traditional musical forms, and difficult to understand these experiments.

Seconds Out is not the traditional ambient music, experimental, and not chaos, but somewhere in between, but it started out strong feelings in me. Let's say I do not know what else to expect from people who have previously worked in the above-listed artists!

These know how to listen, I could not find anything else:


Posted by komakino     endhits.hu

In The Wake Cutmen Tony Ford (ex-Death in June, Sol Invictus, Tursa label, etc.). Pacsipajtásának, Reeve Malkának (M) in the project, which brought together with Z'EV, but joined by two jazz musicians who principle, big names, but I do not know them. The experimental Cutmen The music plays, and same electronics in it, but the overall effect is very organic. The songs form the backbone of tribal dobtémák, this is a little on my tobinos hangkollázsolás tribes of the neuron's atmosphere, which sometimes Z'EV dement a hint of noise, power electronics with vocals. What a brilliant thing is that usually these types of discs in the field that students at most once or twice heard, and falling apart on issues lavish, songs are very vaguely resembling the concept of exceptional items is sent also to the trash, but in this case absolutely enjoyable and track songs We hear, so I heartily recommend it to only 350 copies published in Seconds outs for everyone.

You people are poison 

The Cutmen would still be best described as a kind of experimental Tribal / Industrialsupergroup. The four group members as references whatsoever Swans 's Jarboe , Sol Invictus , L'Orchestre Noir (Sol's side-kick, say), Kenji Satori , Thomas Dolby, The Drones, Organum, Merzbow and even Penguin Cafe Orchestra . Here and there, a reader group as Reeve Malka, Stephen Flinn and Giles Leaman do know, I suppose ...Most of the group is appealing to me is the percussionist Z'ev , at some point in his career a decisive influence on the sound of Psychic TV . Actually, they each old timers in the field and also that we hear their music: straightforward Tribal Industrial with heavy use of percussion, loops, samples and pokkeherrie. A bit like the good old days so ... I introduce myself that action by the stubborn 23 Skidoo -in their tribal -period somewhere in the neighborhood had to come ... The name Cutmen refers to the keepers of boxers before and during the boxing match be responsible for injury prevention (preventive care) and patching up injuries. The most famous cutman was one Chuck Bodak , caretaker of Muhammad AliIt does not seem logical when the title track uses a sample of Ali's legendary statement "I am the King of the World, I am the Greatest!" . Furthermore, especially London Zoo andShaken Not Stired brilliant. However, the main bird is thrown from Oxford Circus , as this issue without much noise to do it to intimidate. This "little old" still know damn well what they are doing!

The bad news is that Soleil Moon Recordings, the release of this album is limited to 350 copies. Whoever wants one can get better ... fast! Let yourself feel free to helporderdesk@soleilmoon.com .

January Denolet 

Sol Invictus - The Cruelest Month (2011) 


5.0 out of 5 stars Life Spit and Roasted12 July 2012
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cruellest Month (Audio CD)
Sounds like... a throng of beery boisterous young apprentices trapped in a Southwark low oak beamed brothel circa 1590, dashing their pewter cups in clanging unison as a group of gnarled troubadours burst through the heaving door. Wandering down from the Globe to stop off, then partake of a deep draft of non lucid ale, they launch into various bitter mushroomed soliloquies, out-takes that did not make the main curve of the sold out theatrical production.

After watching Henry IV on the big box in July 2012, then placing this in the Cd tray afterwards, two disparate times segue effortlessly from one medum to another. An absolute stunning piece of music, brimming with bridled imagery echoing the guile laden angst of a life to live Falstaff to the coldness of Henry's barren desolate court, all ringing out the past chimes, with hands to the deck, playing to make sense of a brassic future.

Whilst recreating the medieval entirety, a la Jethro Tull, would have me pulling out the fully loaded blunderbuss to drive this into critical fragments, the industrial undertows place this in some mystical other land. An echo of Svankmajer's DIY creation rather than quaint fairy tale images of trolls and pixies, culled from a biscuit tin.

The addition of the King's baritone brings out a more beefier presence (ironic if you ever saw him) to the lush chiming string sound as the backing brims and bubbles with pieces of sonic, sprouting imagination. Green shoots of thought become linked to modern sensiblities derived from a 60's imagination, recreated as the death of innocence crammed into heroin, prostitution, self deceit, violence and suicide, all stock the 21stC shelves. The songs chart the courses of foreign journeys bent on full escape, into various forms of future darkened oblivion.

Thematics of murder, betrayal, love lost and hidden meanings freckle the songs, as this album creeps and weeps onto the floor as well as then doing a quick detourn to quickly jump up high to stand and bang itself into transcendence on solid oak tables, built to toast the hooves of pan.

Different to previous Sol releases in timbre, the beauty of a beast as it forever turns its leather hide to the face the spit of a life laden roast, ready to make the necessary musical changes.

SOL INVICTUS arise once more, after having stayed silent for six years. Okay, five years if one counts the three band split CD ‘A Mythological Prospect Of The Citie Of Londinium’, but nonetheless it has been 6 years since the band's last regular release, ‘The Devil's Steed’. SOL INVICTUS’ newest album, ‘The Cruelest Month’, offers everything typical of SOL INVICTUS, from cynical lyrics to instrumentation. Song-writing is top notch as always, however the production values somehow appear to have stayed stagnant and are not up to date. ‘The Cruelest Month’ may sound rather shrill to sensitive ears due to its thin and trebly, mid-rich and unbalanced sound lacking low-end oomph. As such, ‘The Cruelest Month’ shares more with ‘In A Garden Green’ than with, say, ‘The Death Of The West’. Nonetheless, this is the only point of criticism. SOL INVICTUS’ newest offering delivers what the band is known for and on a very, very high level in its specific genre. Tony Wakeford & co. certainly shows their epigones and imitators how the bloody hell it's supposed to be done. Fans of apocalyptic folk and SOL INVICTUS can buy this album without pre-listening. Spend money on the original, spare yourself and your wallet from the umpteenth, inept clone and go to the pub instead.

Written by John Daly   Reflections of Darkness



The Cruelest Month — SOL INVICTUS' first album in five years — marks another step towards the sound and glory of their early releases. 
The sound here is rich, layered, majestic and deliciously dark. Tony Wakeford's vocals still have the same presence and power as before and his writing is still ever intriguing.
Instruments are many in number and wide in range, from the violin which opens the album, to the recorder and flute work which weaves in and out of the melodies, to the guitar and ambiance which holds everything together. All of the parts are written in such a way that every instrument contributes to the mood and feel of the piece; nothing feels out of place and everything fits together in a cohesive manner.
The lyrics are poetic, dark, and pessimistic and sung very expressively by Wakeford and Andrew King. A particular highlight is found in the words to "Toys", a song about what all the icons from our childhood are up to now ("The draughts are forming a coven, Peter Pan is sleeping with whores"). The song itself comes across as (rather fittingly) a novelty, and I find myself skipping it on some play through, but the first listen was something of a treat.
Alongside the band's own written material, there are also two traditional songs — "Cruel Lincoln" and "Blackleg Miner" — which fit perfectly with the atmosphere of the rest of the album.
The Cruelest Month is a fantastic feat of songwriting and orchestration, enviable for the best of them. Old fans will instantly feel at home with the record, while new listeners will have something dense and accomplished to sink their teeth into. Either way, I would recommend giving it a listen when it comes out on the 10th of June.

Simon Brand   avantgarde-metal

Several years have passed since Sol Invictus' previous studio album, "The Devil's Steed", and many things happened in the microcosms of the Unconquered Sun in the meantime. "The Cruellest Month", their brand-new effort, finally offers us a picture of Tony Wakeford's band as it has been for the last five years, that means, with Andrew King, Caroline Jago, Guy Harries, and all the others who we saw on stage. The sound has changed too, getting stronger, richer and more articulated than it used to be on the aforementioned predecessor. The distinctive progressive touch that had informed the era between "In A Garden Green" and "Thrones" is back, but also a rougher edge that recalls the very early days, particularly in evidence in opening "Raining In April", where percussion and dissonant electric bass create a powerful and dramatic atmosphere. "To Kill All Kings", with flute, percussion and its epic choir, sounds ancient and medieval, but catchy at the same time.

"The Sailor's Aria" is the adaptation of a traditional, with Andrew King's suasive voice making its first appearance as absolute protagonist on the CD, and eventually interpreting other two vibrant traditionals, "Edward" and the blood-soaked "Cruel Lincoln", already tested in live performances in recent years. "The Bad Luck Bird" is an epic anthem, the album's highlight, with its apocalyptic choir, scratching violin and flute, a new instant Sol classic, that, indeed, we had the opportunity to listen to live at last year's Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig. The beautiful atmospheric instrumental "April Rain" leads eventually to the elegant "Stella Maris", in which violin and flute are, once again, the main actors on the scene, to the ritual and hypnotic chant of the title-track, and to the closing "The Blackleg Miner", another traditional, this time sung by Tony Wakeford.

"The Cruellest Month" marks a strong return for Sol Invictus after a few years of absence from the studio, giving us back the English band in an excellent state of health, full of energy and charisma. The Sun remains unconquered once again.

- Simon V.   filthforge.org

While the last album Sol Invictus ( The Devil's Steed ) dates back almost six years. However, his brains, Tony Wakeford was not without activity. Between his business on his own label ( Tursa ), he had had time to put out records under his own name ( Into the Woods in 2007 and Not All of Me Will Die in 2009 and finally Odditiesthat came out this summer). This left little room for Sol Invictus, but the miracle has taken place. From Crisis to the present day, to Death In June , Current 93 and crossing the road of people like Boyd Rice , Steve Stapleton ( Nurse With Wound ) or Tor Lundvall , it is clear that Tony Wakeford is a key figure of the movement neo-folk, what others call the apocalyptic-folk, child of the industrial scene and has been much ink.We will not revisit the controversy that forced Wakeford to be justified. We can consider that the page is now on tour. She was to him for a long time but he is always found that it is and is a fascist ideology. It does not matter now. Wakeford has set the record straight and put a time on the front of his own youth he had denied himself no longer makes sense. What matters now is his music alone.

The Cruellest Month is the seventeenth album by Sol Invictus. It is perhaps not the most important or most significant, but after six years of silence Sol Invictus was probably heart to be true to its reputation. Thirteen new songs under the sign of a pagan apocalyptic, richly orchestrated to show that the group with Death In June, remains one of the cornerstones of dark-folk. However, this was not at all obvious at first. This was probably because it's been awhile since I had not listened to an album of Sol Invictus. To get back in he has been out the old. In Against the Modern World through The Killing Tide , In the Rain , Lex Talionis , or The Hill of Crosses , I could pick up the thread of the evolution of the British formation. Cruellest The Month will not make a whole big new to the world of Sol Invictus. Provided this disc is a great place. We would have misunderstood that Tony Wakeford has committed a new adventure with side pieces. Beyond the songwriting, Sol Invictus is really the only thing Wakeford. Where it took first place, it now shares the lead roles willingly, the interest of the group relying more on his presence and his voice so symbolic. This new album is a good delivery and Sol Invictus takes its place as it should. Solar and dark at once.

by  Fabien           liabilitywebzine.com


Neofolk - an ailing genre, where according to Hen-ryk Vogel (Darkwood), only Tony Wakeford of Sol Invictus exist-benefits that have (thankfully) resurrected skillful in pension Project & "The Cruelest Month" created that seamlessly from previous masterpieces linked.
Also imagine Sol Invictus in the circles of those who publish production of Prophecy / Auerbach their record releases, where after the 7inch "The Bad Luck Bird '(2010)" The Cruelest Month "the light of day.
Rewinds the content down Englishman living in Normandy standard repertoire of pessimism, cynicism and social criticism, which estimate Sol Invictus characterized from the beginning and loyal consumers. Unfortunately at the time of review there were no texts, otherwise would be a quote obligation to substantiate the claim of textual Sol Invictus, or underline.
In terms of musical art, Sol Invictus give wonderfully conservative, why is "The Cruelest Month," a typical work of the English neofolk, where especially the distinctive voice of Tony Wakeford is in the foreground, which makes for even more expressive power and recognition. Forth by the instrumentation, remembers "The Cruelest Month" to older Opera as "The Blade" & "The Hill of Crosses," but also "new" moments, with a (at first) is far too dominant flute, determine the overall picture, the die-hard fans of the first to the last second will worship, also expects the impressive vocals of Andrew King, who rounds out the formidable impression.
Actually, I could save all versions of this work, the Sol Invictus, with front man Tony Wakeford, presenting only the best albums, is what always a minimum three outstanding Anspieltipps is. "The Cruellest Month" convinced the whole length without, even after the umpteenth Hördurchlauf in class, losing charm and intensity, which is why it is one of the major highlights of the Sol Invictus discography, the hope is still a few final publication before the end of the band increases.
As no different than expected, delivers the Grand Master Tony Wakeford of Sol Invictus another masterpiece under the title "The Cruelest Month" from the highest standards and accurately displayed the sentiments, provides that yearn sworn fans of the exception Formation - my absolute recommendation!

Author: RaF   kultur (terrorismus)   



Sol Invictus surprised me in 2005 with a strong album, "The Devil's Steed". The last time I have seen this ensemble live was at the 15th anniversary of The Black Cave in 2009. Too short due to technical problems, but enough to see again their intense and dark neofolk, and to wish for a new album.

With "The Cruelest Month", the ensemble is back; blacker, cynical, vicious and more melancholic than ever. The album opens beautifully with "Raining in April”, where the typical violin quickly is replenished by the acrimonious, accusatory voice of Tony Wakeford. The oh so familiar heavy drums, percussion and the acoustic guitar complete the instruments and suddenly there's that typical Sol Invictus sound that penetrates to the bone.

Andrew King, our dear bard, may follow rapidly with its lovely soft voice. He brings us "The Sailor's Aria" , a brief trifle, but so beautiful. The intro is a beautiful adaptation of a song by Henry Purcell.

The aria and accompanying seagulls can seamlessly turn into "Fool's Ship" which accentuates another typical Sol Invictus sound, the flute, which makes me melancholy muse, forces me back into melancholy. The assertive and accusing voice of Tony pushes me further into my corner, psychologically tormented and in a virtual protective fetal position, but painfully intense enjoying this song.

"Edward" brings us the beautiful collusion of Tony & Andrew, set against an incredibly beautiful melody, driven by atonality. The two gentlemen narrate/sing intense. "What did you kill your dear little brother for?
O my boy come now tell it unto me...... O and that will never, never be "

During "April Rain", an instrumental, intensity and originality keeps surprising us, an ethnically tinged song building a compelling character based on a varying synthesizer melody where violin, flute, percussion, cello and a dreamy guitar may weave a complex sound carpet through.

The album is a succession of intriguing tunes, including Andrews fantastic interpretation of the mass murder ballad "Cruel Lincoln" which grows up to an intense aggressiveness I actually only know of their live performances.

Finally, über-cynist Tony may present to us the last track: his interpretation of war song "The Blackleg Miner". It is the thirteenth track of the CD and thus he delivers us the thirteenth gem.

Needless to say again how brilliant "The Cruelest Month" is, but other artists will have to work damn hard to get it out of my top 10 for 2011.



It’s been a year or six since the last proper Sol Invictus album, and we’ve had to turn to Tony Wakeford‘s consistent work on various side projects (The Triple Tree, Orchestra Noir, Grey Force Wakeford) and solo works to follow the man’s current musical directions. Nevertheless, it seems he’s gathered enough inspiration from all these endeavors to infuse Sol Invictus’ seminal neofolk with some new influences.

As has been the case with practically all albums by the band in the almost 25 years of its existence (an impressive datum in itself) there is some recycling of themes, melodic motifs, and composition structure. What fascinates me is that despite of this, and with the help of a varying and ever-changing musical arrangement, most of these albums are still interesting and fresh enough, and The Cruelest Month is no exception. Tracks like “Something’s Coming” and “Toys” (though the latter is lyrically very enjoyable) have perhaps a bit too much of that “heard this before” feeling, but overall, there is a lot of variation. Andrew King‘s rendition of traditional (“Edward” and “Cruel Lincoln”) differ from his solo works in the addition of the Sol Invictus band, and practically embody the part of neofolk that is rooted in folk balladry. Tracks like “Stella Maris” and “Fool’s Ship” tackle a more expansive sound and nautical theme where the rich arrangements for flute (Guy Harries), dulcimer (Reeve Malka) and violin (Renee Rosen) truly shine. The same point applies to the brilliant instrumental “April Rain”.

Another selling point of The Cruelest Month is the collection of series of tracks that have been all over the place, except together on a definitive Sol Invictus studio album: “To Kill All Kings”, “The Bad Luck Bird”, “The Cruelest Month”, and “The Blackleg Miner”. All are live staples, typical anthems, or at least bound to become one, so it’s good to have them all here. I must say that a bit more fire could have gone into the delivery of these here and there, but overall, these are solid tracks, and more examples of what has kept Wakeford’s compositions interesting throughout the years: a strong sense of rhythm, song structure, and memorable melodies.

The first couple of drafts of this review in my head compared The Cruellest Month to side project albums that have impressed me the past few year (Ghosts by The Triple Tree, Marble Heart by Grey Force Wakeford, Not All of Me Will Die by Wakeford solo). The greater degree of experimentation that Wakeford displayed on such albums is in some sense laudable, and part of me wishes a bit more had trickled through into this one. All the same, this is a Sol Invictus album, and another part of me realizes that staying relatively faithful to the song-based tradition of neofolk is what keeps the band on track as a project. In that light, the balance struck between tradition and more loose composition and instrumental play on The Cruelest Month is excellent. So, it’s a new album by what stands as the mainstay band of the neofolk genre, and though it’s not a thoroughly surprising one, I’d say it’s exemplary and at the top of what the genre has to offer.

Reviewed by O.S.  Evening of Light



Sol Invictus has been a recognizable name in the neofolk scene for such a long time now, that it is hard to imagine what else Tony Wakeford and his ever evolving ensemble of collaborators could bring to a new release. Yet ‘The Cruelest Month’, their first album in five years, continues to progress the band’s sound be acknowledging the endearing sound of their earliest materials.

Wakeford’s voice is still instantly recognizable amidst the complex orchestration of instruments, cutting through with utter conviction. While the melding of classical, folk and progressive sounds shows the group’s song writing at its best. All styles and instruments blend into rich and varied soundscapes enhancing the mood of the powerful lyrics. Wakeford could have always been as stripped-back as he wanted with Sol Invictus and the music would still resonate with energy and feeling. But by surrounding himself with talented musicians he continues to push boundaries.

Songs like ‘The Sailor’s Aria’/‘Fool’s Ship, ‘Toys’, ‘April Rain’, ‘Cruel Lincoln’ and ‘The Cruelest Month’ provide the album’s highlights whether they’re re-imagining sea shanties, perverting childhood memories or adding an apocalyptic slant to a traditional song.

The album’s production is perfect in the sense that it isn’t perfect. The mix is effective in giving the different instruments the power they need to add to the atmosphere of the songs. But it’s that slightly rough edge to the overall sound of the album that gives it an endearing quality that the earlier Sol Invictus album’s possessed, without sounding outdated or unprofessional.

Sean M. Palfrey  MTUK



Six years after "The Devil's Steed" occurs with "The Cruelest Month," a new album Sol Invictus. That the new album would follow on seamlessly from its predecessor - it should have counted only a few, too drastic and painful of human bloodletting that followed the years of "The Devil's Steed". By ERIC ROGER CHARLES BLAKE and, next to the only remaining member from Tony Wakeford of Sol Invictus-primordial soup of the late eighties, two heavyweights left the band to devote himself entirely to the megalomaniac project Game Bolg. From "Steed" album can be found next to his wife only WAKEFORD RENE ROSEN on the successor.
WAKEFORD ANDREW KING and won a number of mostly young and unknown musicians on board. This press on the new Sol Invictus sounds their personal stamp. The new album is complex and is composed of equal numbers of typical SOL INVICTUS Parts, still-experimental sounds and traditional songs. The change of scenery will be addressed in the vocal performances by KING, depending on the audience-most or the most penetrating Gusto WAKEFORD sidekick since IAN READ, of course, very clear. "Edward", "Cruel Lincoln" or "The Sailor's Aria" might be so even on a pure finding Andrew KING plate. Even with these three (semi-) traditional music is a fraction of Sol Invictus's past shows that can be transferred to other compositions: Mixed at Sol Invictus earlier hymnal into the saturated by WAKEFORD biting cynicism Elegies always a healthy dose of pride and epic, a kind of "now more than ever" Despite, these seem to "The Cruelest Month" largely disappeared.
Songs like "Fool's Ship" or "Stella Maris" splash pleasing even to himself, was about "complacency" no word that could have been brought earlier in connection with the creation WAKEFORD. This becomes obvious in the bass work by CAROLINE JAGO: Live she was never guilty of the evidence that they mimic the style of her predecessor BLAKE Knarzig not only can but to enrich their own interpretations. "The Cruelest Month" has no place for compositionally largely emphases of this kind, often it is simply a lack of corners and edges, which could emphasize rhythm. This is a cold and acting strangely dissociated production. The many progressive games, including the cabaret-like "toys" that act as foreign bodies and remnants of the solo work of the artist.
Is "The Cruelest Month" which is why a bad album? No, but you can see the disk at the hearing that there was potential wasted. Songs like "Kill All Kings," "Something's Coming" or "The Blackleg Miner" would, if we disregard the technological weaknesses, Sol Invictus-nineties on each production can be accommodated. Has at worst in this respect, the single "The Bad Luck Bird 'caught: On the seven-inch disc, the piece shone in the best, minimalist Sol Invictus tradition - maybe it's the best Sol Invictus-piece since the beginning of this millennium - and Hunger on the comeback album of one of the greatest neo-folk combos made this planet. The version on "The Cruelest Month," however, was kaputtorchestriert with tens of instruments and loses the rugged charm of the original. Hard to imagine what beauty might hide under the surface of the other songs when one compares the two versions of the song ...
Six years ago, Stephan Pockrandt asked in his review at this point, if "The Devil's Steed" had become the most homogeneous album by Sol Invictus. This question is not answered here, but "The Cruellest Month" could be the most heterogeneous album since "Against the Modern World" and "Lex Talionis" is. This respect. Maybe people "Cruellest The Month" at best as a blueprint as a starting point and starting point for the future and a second spring, the band, enough approaches do exist. Where to move other founding fathers of Apocalyptic Folk genre for years in an artistic dead end, WAKEFORD stands at a crossroads with many exciting options. "The Cruelest Month" documents but rather a group that remains at precisely this point, instead of marching boldly into one of the many possible directions. From this can be seen on the, no: his only successor to the curious. The invincible sun must not die; especially Sol Invictus now finally has a serious label in the back. Therefore WAKEFORD and his new team back on the next album but must simply reload a few coals.
Richard K. for nonpop.de


What do the three legends when they come in the years?When it comes to the "big" years of neofolk, then inevitably fall, the band name Death in June, Sol Invictus and Current93.And even if the name is Dij this review is to be no basis for political discussion. Sol Invictus are no longer part of this discussion. But what is now the three big bands? Mr. Pearce is sitting in his specially created isolation (enannt Fort Nada) and released the same old musical and thematic ideas, which sold well only because of the name Death in June, and because the Lord has such a beautiful voice that even CDs with songs and Lift-selling piano. Mr. Tibet on the other hand pawing always new musicians and creativity to challenge themselves and with each album Current93 friends and enemies. Mr. Wakeford and Sol Invictus, 2005, the chapter ended with "The devils steed" quiet, silent and sound.....2011, I hear "The cruelest month," Mr. Wakeford has not kept its word. And ... that's damn good. For as strong as on album number 17 (or 15 depending on how you count) has been heard in my ears never Sol Invictus. Because Tony Wakeford has finally managed to combine the three target elements of Sol Invictus cosmos too challenging and denoch conclusive: "The cruelest month" is apocalyptic-folk, there are traditional music and it's neo-folk, with all its samples and sound collages. And "The cruelest month" is a big entity stumbles, but not headless around between these very different worlds, but carries the listener into a whole different world. Vocally, the album of Wakeford and Andrew King is contested - both are in good shape (if I I may indulge the little jab toward Fort Nada) and it is especially sad and wistful Andrew King's voice that is simply made ​​for traditional folk tunes (especially "Edward" and "Cruel Lincoln"). The acoustic guitar is still given plenty of space, the tunes are quiet, reserved and build bridges to the past, the band build (as "Edward" and "The Blackleg Miner" on the same basic melody, which is already "Gods" / "No Gods "in the 2002s" throne "shaped). But unlike the Current'sche minimalism of the last albums, or even halt the attacks Mr. DiJ'sche Wakreford deep into the musical treasure trove classical instruments like piano, violins, wind instruments, flutes, drums and sweeping operations are there on the one side, sometimes lovely set, dissonant mauled as in "To kill all kings." Harsh distorted electric guitars, drum machines and synth parts are carpets on the other, "modern" side, engage in folk, sometimes disturbing. We can be thankful for Tony Wakeford "The cruelest month". It is certainly not a lounge-folk (second jab, I beg your pardon), caresses the listener is not easy but is oblique, sometimes daunting, sometimes terribly old fashioned and so much Sol Invictus as never before. 

Der Medienkonverter



A quick glance at the new release of Sol Invictus - "The Cruellest Month" and immediately notice the first positive aspect. It's all thanks to the cover. Appears on the image of Tor Lundvall entitled "Murderer." Extremely mysterious, melancholic mood of seasoned and somewhat defines the musical style, which is included on the disc. Well, the cover artwork (though admittedly, that is excellent!), And the music the music ...What this time Tony Wakeford uraczy us? Expect a rather hackneyed schemes, or maybe a new and fresh look? Actually, it dominates the first, but "The Cruellest Month" is an attempt of the highest quality. Outset it is worth to recall that the band was founded in 1987 and its output has a significant number of publications. Latest album consists of 13 compositions, among which in addition to their own songs are well-known arrangements of folk melodies and folk songs such as "Cruel Lincoln" or "The Blackleg Miner". The album is nostalgic, it is full of sadness and pessimism, however, cleverly composed just relax, soothing at the same time our minds. Minor mood builds a unique atmosphere of this disc. Works wonderfully addictive Sol Invictus, making the sail far away in a completely separate reality. According to the adopted so-called top-down assumptions. folk music, to create this type of track is used mainly acoustic instruments. When composing "The Cruellest Month" was not too different. The album largely uświadczymy sound of the violin, cello, acoustic guitar, accordion, flute and various types of przeszkadzajek. In addition, we can also catch lots of drum kit and electric guitar (occasionally wailing on the distinctive overdrive). Texts written entirely in English, good blend of melodic lines. Tony Wakeford not shuns them from cynicism interlaced pessimistic message. Layer lyrical, through its specificity, without a doubt become an integral part of this release. The sound achieved on "The Cruelest Month" is a very clean and clear, so you will hear different nuances and flavors. Summary of individual melodic lines of the instruments is well centered, which makes the listening of this material does not feel discomfort caused by too quiet sound of a particular instrument. The vocals stand out nicely over the instrumental backing, without damaging the composition scheme. As you can see, the album has many advantages. As for drawbacks, the situation is completely opposite. I can only stick to the time (somewhat) unfairly made the vocals, though I suppose that it is this author's intention was, that was a little dissonance :-). Thirteen songs included on "The Cruellest Month" invites us to do niekrótką and mystical journey, after which the good memories last long in our memory. Neofolk in this embodiment is a pleasure for listeners. Admittedly, the newest release group led by Tony Wakeford is a really good album. It is very consistent and interestingly arranged. There is no special voltage drop and creates a musical layer like a permanent structure undisturbed. The last material Sol Invictus is a must for fans of the genre, but also sincerely recommend it to all those who are not indifferent to the sublime work of stylized folk music. 

Adam Hunchback   Atmospheric



Neofolk, a musical genre that may be one. If yes, then you come to the British legend Tony Wakeford of Sol Invictus around his main project in any case. Functioned alongside other stars of the genre such as Death In June, at which Wakeford as a founding member, is one of the musical child of the portly Englishman, who helped start his career, even with the known post-punk band CRISIS, namely, to spearhead the global Neofolk movement and now for almost 25 years. With 'The Cruellest Month' which lays mostly with various guest musicians working project for six years before a new album, which is the first time on the German label Prophecy Productions / Auerbach published record. Yet it is according to label one of the best ever works of Wakeford and of course be absolutely perfect. Whether these allegations are true, shall be determined in the following discussion. the whole thing will be introduced by the monumental 'Raining In April', which reflect the beautifully painted album covers seems perfect, lyrically and musically. Such sound art we are used by Sol Invictus. So and not otherwise be romantically tinged Neofolk sound, although Intended song is advised in case of Britons already somewhat aggressive. On the disc there are of course other pearls Wakeford's art of composition. The medieval 'To Kill All Kings', which is subtly Irish ballad 'Edward' and the rock-anthemia 'The Bad Luck Bird' songs are all first quality and are simply the best that one can create in terms of neofolk. Towards the end you have to have the wonderful 'The Blackleg Miner' particularly point out because this song is a part of old exploits recalls and represents the other hand, the excellent re-interpretation of an old folk song. In addition to aforementioned sonic revelations hidden in 'The Cruellest Month' a little lazy fruit when it comes to variety and impressive of the listener. Some songs, let us take, for example, 'April Rain', will not ignite easily and splashing, even after the umpteenth Hördurchlauf monotone nor to himself, without even begin to be anchored in the memory. It would also in some tracks to warm up an old adage, less simply been more, so the extremely sumptuous soundscapes interfere for example with 'Cruel Lincoln' even a little. Finally you have seen it say that the positive sides of 'The Cruelest Month', the negative by a multiple tower above, with one also must add that one of the new album Sol Invictus can not necessarily call it a milestone. Fans of the first hour, but also all other Neofolk freaks can access course soothes while as lowbrow metal band to make a purchase consideration nor should risk a short trial run. Nevertheless, there are now probably hard romantic, folkloric and as industrial Neofolk than him Sol Invictus and practice their mastermind Tony Wakeford.



Sol Invictus has been around since the 1987, and is widely considered as one of the forefathers of the neofolk scene.  Even with that kind of recognition, few people know about the group, which is the brainchild of Tony Wakeford, who himself has been in the music scene since 1977.  With a record deal with Prophecy Productions in place, Sol Invictus figures to see a small spike in the number of people who will listen to the band, and the first full length since the signing The Cruelest Month is a good start.
For those unfamiliar with the Sol Invictus sound, they are a neofolk band with industrial elements thrown in for good measure.  Wakeford’s deep vocals are as much of an atmosphere maker as the music itself, which is something that most bands today cannot claim.  The rather deliberate pace in which the music is set is another key element to the Sol Invictus sound, as evidenced on “Fools’ Ship” and “The Bad Luck Bird.”  There is a lot to pick up from The Cruelest Month, even with the minimalist method in which Sol Invictus operates, as it can go from a German-influenced sound (“Toys”) to a more traditional style of folk (“The Bad Luck Bird”).  Many of the songs are mechanical in nature, which is a byproduct of the group’s penchant for mixing industrial elements into their sound.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it gives the listener a unique perspective on the neofolk scene.  Like most neofolk bands though, Sol Invictus is best enjoyed when the atmosphere and the surrounding elements are at the ideal setting, so it wouldn’t be recommended listening when you’re exercising, for instance.  Though there are no fillers on The Cruelest Month, tracks that are worth checking out include “Cruel Lincoln,” “To Kill All Kings,” and “Toys.”  
Having been around for over two decades, Sol Invictus has been gaining new fans with every subsequent album, and The Cruelest Month figures to be the band’s most successful from that standpoint.  Even if you had never heard the band before this album, their influence can be heard, most notably in bands such as Agalloch. The Cruelest Month serves as an intricate atmospheric maze that will keep your attention for a while, and is worth checking out if you have never heard of the group.

Reviewer: Peter   Metal Psalter



One of the musical movements that have gone through over the past few decades, a true metamorphosis is that of neofolk. Hardly a genre offers bands, artists, and often controversial individualists compared a lot of freedom to realize themselves, which probably explains the success of this musical genre in the underground. 
Among the most important, no questions asked bands that you should have heard as a non-Neofolk at least include, in addition to Death In June Current 93 and Sol Invictus especially. The latter is always understood, natural, folkloric sounds expertly to be provided with synthetic subtleties, without becoming inedible disharmonic. 
In the extensive discography of Sol Invictus now joins the latest full-length release "The Cruelest Month" field.

Fans of this band will be disappointed in any way. On the contrary, by the improved musical skills and especially by the much more elaborate production will be "The Month Cruelest" intense a listening experience. It definitely are similarities to the classic "Sol Veritas Lux" verzeichenbar in terms of song structure. 
Most notable is probably the excellent vocals. This seems like a mixture of "Irish-Folk" and "Sailor Song" to what the average, without question, absolutely firm voice of the singer is responsible. She's just intense and exciting, what this band helped always been one of their special music. 
As a musical foundation once again serves up an acoustic guitar, the hypnotic, minimalistic riffs strikes again and again. 
Was also on "The Cruelest Month" especially have been used even on flutes, harp and violin-like instrument similar. This fund creates a truly awesome sound strange, heroic and emotional atmosphere; the SOL INVITUS gives a whole new sheen. 
Again very model is also made ​​use of synthesizers. You can tell that this is an avant-garde music, since otherwise the artificial sounds very natural sound image over again effectively distort and alienate. Sol Invictus goes but here actually only as far as it is aesthetically acceptable, why even non-supporters of neo-folk movement may well risk an ear. Equally as sad as graceful and dignified are the 13 tracks, therefore, and inspire with every second. Sol Invictus has become a musical maturity that seems currently to be at the zenith. On "The Cruelest Month," a full 50 minutes are offered the finest Neofolk, who is at high level and quality hard to beat. Any person interested in good, independent music-interested people to take even a few minutes to a few tracks of this album to listen to. Fans of this band should be "The Cruelest Month" has already and if not, then it's about time! 

Written by Jannick   Neckbreaker Magazin



Nearly a quarter of a century is the creation of the British cult band Neofolk SOL INVICTUS now been back almost a year and mastermind Tony Wakeford was supported by various guest musicians, speak with new releases of itself. Only in recent years it has been noticeably silent known to Sol Invictus, and even gave himself Wakeford, finally, that the 2005 album "The Devil's Steed" was perhaps the last. Sol Invictus 2008 made ​​their fans, however, new hopes: A Deal with Auerbach Tonträger / Prophecy Productions was signed, then appeared in 2010 with the 7'''The Bad Luck Bird' new material and now finally Wakeford finally released a new album: "The cruelest month ". And even on first listen it becomes clear that Wakeford not leave his chosen with Sol Invictus musical path after the release break wants, "The Cruelest Month" seamless continuation of the previous work of the band. The focus of the 13 mostly gloomy -enchanting, mysterious, almost drab compositions is the unique and typical village singing Tony Wakeford, Sol Invictus unmistakable style of the 'largely accounts. Particularly impressive in my opinion, like the Englishman can captivate the listener with his voice and can convey the message of the title, especially without her varied use, only with their tone, their natural expression. Even the instrumentation is about the length of almost a complete album is not particularly variable missed, but not its effect. Soft, fragile, beautiful and yet depressing, sad melodies, performed by strings, flutes and acoustic guitar, rhythmically supported by Schalgzeug and percussion swirl around the vocals Wakeford, invite you to dream, to flatter himself by the ears and let the listener's everyday for a moment forgotten. Although "The Cruelest Month" in my opinion is the best album Sol Invictus NICH 'and even if one could criticize objective that the titles are very similar, and some parts are drawn somewhat too much in length, The overall picture of this album but very consistent and makes you look a the music, so you can spend with this album many imaginative, dreamy hours.

katharina.becker   metal.de



Very long time nothing was heard of the English Grand Master of the Apocalyptic Folk, Sol Invictus, Tony Wakeford and its mastermind. One had even fear that the great "The Devil's Steed" (2005), the last album could be this legend, which over two decades ago that began to shape decisively with Death In June and Current 93 an entire musical genre and to coin. Even Tony Wakeford was assumed that would be "The Devil's Steed" the last album the band's history. 2008, there were all fans will have a legitimate hope, as the band signed with Auerbach records, which are known to Prophecy Productions for their excellent band selection and quality are known albums. So it should be then at least new editions of previous studio albums by Sol Invictus. But that's not enough, there was 2010, a first real signs of life with "The Bad Luck Bird 'EP, and by that date it was clear that all hopes were justified could be, and "The Devil's Steed" in fact not the last album by Sol Invictus. So we are writing the year 2011 and the ardent wait is finally over. All hopes were fulfilled, as with "The Cruelest Month" is now the 17th Studio album by the band before. Tony Wakeford has any burdens from the past and rid created along with numerous guest musicians (including the exceptional singer Andrew King), a new masterpiece, as far as I can tell in advance. SOL INVICTUS present on "The Cruelest Month" strong as an ox. I dare before even one step further and argue that the new album is certainly one of the best in the band's history. And this is at such a grand predecessors as "throne" (2002) and "The Devil's Steed" (2005) mean something! the cover artwork alone with the painting "Murderer" by Tor Lundvall makes her a lot. And also musically and artistically presented to you at absolutely atmospheric technically high level and uses of old strengths, without sounding stale. On the contrary. In addition to the standard acoustic guitar have many other instruments used on "The Cruelest Month" and one in particular the flute was given much leeway. With "Edward", "Cruel Lincoln" and "The Blackleg Miner" three traditional have received catchments, which all fall seamlessly integrated into the overall work. In particular, Andrew King's interpretation of the mass murder ballad "Cruel Lincoln" in this case shows the quality that can offer Sol Invictus in 2011. King pushes the song through its distinctive, sad and deeply penetrating the skin to voice its very own stamp and provides lots of Goosebumps. Backed by drums and acoustic guitar is "Cruel Lincoln" thus one of many highlights on "The Cruelest Month". The class war anthem "The Blackleg Miner" takes its place there and has to hide in any way. The song describes intensity dealing with those mine workers who perform their work despite a strike going on and thus show more solidarity towards the mine union as compared to its own "fellow sufferers". The violent use of such strike-breakers in the second half of song especially clear when the mood beforehand umschwingt could be described as cheerful and relaxed, and is threatening. "The Blackleg Miner" is wonderful is the mix of neofolk and dark and Apocalyptic Folk, and can be used as a symbol for the entire album. Lyrically, Tony Wakeford proves once again that he understands it like no other, with the help of a lot of cynicism and pessimism of the society to hold up a mirror. For example, in "Toys" series of children's heroes such as Peter Pan or Action Man into criminals and shady characters who indulge in a world not heal, but are also devoted to the reprehensible things in the society. In a subtle way, here's fantasies are taken apart in the good in the world and the infallibility of such children's idols. The really calm, relaxed, "The Sailor's Aria", which is accompanied by waves and seagulls screaming, a mysterious, treacherous atmosphere gets breathed into and flows directly into says, "Fool's Ship", whose title for himself. "Something's Coming" with utter hopelessness waiting for did in music. The guitar holds back and leaves it to the flute, to celebrate a haunting, sad melody while singing Wakeford timid compared to the rest of the album works. A terrific piece. But it can also Sol Invictus without poisonous and biting lyrics, as the only purely instrumental on the album, "April Rain" proves. Here spherical Neofolk is offered which is very thoughtful overcast and produces a dense atmosphere. And if you're in dense atmosphere, a fast-the song "To Kill All Kings" comes to mind, which is equipped with a disturbing, turbulent soundscape, by the use of drum and other musical side scenes reminiscent of a rebellion that will always jeopardizes more and more threatening and chaotic. About every single song on this album could write pages. Just as it has always been in songs by Sol Invictus the case. Wakeford lyrics paired with the background music is emotional, direct, and not sparing the listener. "The Cruelest Month" is edgy, down to earth and because of the unique features vocals by Tony Wakeford and Andrew King a high recognition value. INVICTUS SOL had always enjoyed a high standard of quality in terms of their music. But the bar has been with "The Cruellest Month" again a little further up. Who can even begin with something only peripherally classic folk, this record must have on the shelf. There simply is no way around this squad. As a final note had mentioned that Prophecy Productions still has a huge delicacy in the hindquarters. From the 10th June 2011, Collected Works of Sol Invictus on the Prophecy Shop Online are available, which can be pre-ordered now. The collection includes all 27 CDs and three DVDs of the band and is therefore a must for any collector and fan


There is only one word that describes this album perfectly a Masterpiece 
"The Cruelest Month" combines all the strengths of Sol Invictus, and proves once again why the band is an absolute reference in the field of classical Neofolk Apocalyptic Folk, Dark or. 
The texts allow the listener through their cynicism and pessimism in a moment her smile and inclined to think in another moment with worry lines. Musically, you move between powerful and apocalyptic numbers, while Tony Wakeford and Andrew King impress with their singing every song (especially the Traditional) its own mark. 
No matter how long I seek, I find in "The Cruelest Month" simply no weak point. At least not as long as you even a little what can be done with traditional folk music. 
This album not only worth a buy recommendation, it should be a must buy!

Author: H. Malte   metal.tm



Sol Invictus were long considered THE neo-folk band se, but because of frequent member changes and weaker albums, it was 2005 at the latest after the publication of "The Devil's steed" silent around the band of mastermind Tony Wakeford. This had been scheduled as the album actually completed the band, but his move to France, as well as finding and retrieving new, as well as former members voted for him and so will show "The cruelest month". Wakeford says about this work: "It is a meditation on aging and decline, not only for the individual, and also for the rich countries. It deals with the question whether the cruelty of life is simply a reflection of the cruelty of God, or whether we are merely cruel for cruelty's sake. It is a utopia free zone. "Thus, one should not indulge in even the utopia; there would be merry melodies on this album. Sol Invictus dominated early on the term "Apocalyptic Folk" for their music and "Raining in April," underlines this. On an already gloomy acoustic melody places a wrong-headed sawing the electric guitar and above all looms the dark, sometimes very monotonous (speech) voice Wakeford. This should also work for many listeners on the whole album to get used to repulsive. In contrast to the monotony of singing is the musical quality that should be beyond question. Songs such as "Toys" or "Something's Coming" prove beyond doubt the skills of the musicians. Compositionally, the work can be seen very conflicting. While were traditional like "Cruel Lincoln" and "The Blackleg Miner" outstanding implemented in the sound Sol Invictus', but in many songs is clearly always the same rhythm, same structure was used. Of course, neo-folk, no genre that sparkles with innovation a bit more but it would have to be happy. Titles such as "Toys," "The cruellest month" and the instrumental "April Rain" as proven that the band still has enormous potential. Taking "The devils steed" as a yardstick, "The cruelest month" should be seen as a quantum leap. But this would obscure the fact that alternate on the current Silberling light and shadows, but overall it remains pretty bleak. For die-hard fans the disc is a must in any case, whether earned the band new fans remains to be seen.

Author: Bastian Schmatz   cdstarts.de



Goodbyes are so easy for a seemingly never, sometimes they are probably almost impossible if one has been in business for so long. Should actually The Devil's Steed in 2005, the last album by Sol Invictus have been. And now six years later, still follows a follower in the form of The Month Cruelest .You could guess it already, since it was announced live on a new album to work, and last year came in the form of the Bad Luck Bird is already a foretaste out after six years and now the new plant as the doyen of neofolk.

Thematically it is very dark once again to: Wakeford is a cynic by and by, and presents a very pessimistic view: So you have in Toys see heroes of childhood, how she never wanted to see - a criminal and immoral. Even the apocalyptic Something's coming spread doom and gloom. This will also be distributed at the beginning, when in April Raining in dark rattling meet electric guitars and violins to paint a grim picture of the world that pervades the album

The dreamy melodies lull one not only once: To kill all things could be a dreamy folk song, but as the title is proved, then so peaceful in the text but do not. Even the screaming after wanderlust The Sailor's Aria is not what it seems when you look at it on the Ship of Fools is located.

Besides singing Wakeford and Andrew King was given a lot of space, where both achieve excellence. The tunes keep it pleasantly in the background and leave because of the acoustic guitar almost pay songwriter atmosphere, would not these constantly supplemented by a variety of instruments (flutes, violins, piano, synthesizer or even once). All this makes for a coherent picture.

The Cruelest Month is a fantastic album. Whether it is the best in the entire history of Sol Invictus now, everyone must decide for themselves. But the fact is that it is among the best in the history of the project.

Tristan   alternativmusik.de



Again, I was very specifically asked if I wanted to take on this review. And again, I gladly said yes of course!

I did get the new work of Sol Invictus, which was also waiting for some six years away! Nevertheless, despite Tony Wakeford has also recreated a shekel, which makes the heart beat faster every neofolk fans!

In the usual Sol Invictus fashion the songs are relatively quiet but forceful way. Imposing the CD begins with Raining in April at about To Kill All Kings continue to run almost medieval. The Sailor's Aria is one of my favorite songs. You can almost taste the salt in the air. It's the same with fool's Ship , which I like very much. Both songs remind me very much of my Scotland trip. Edward is an Irish ballad, which is also just brought over. Simply beautiful ... 
In April Rain hear the rain falling in the wind and Cruel Lincoln comes along very proud. The last two songs are then de CD Cruelest The Month and The Blackleg Miner . Both are simply great songs written by Tony Wakeford.

All who are somehow interested in Neofolk should listen to this album often. I will definitely do it. Alone already succumbing to the British charm, which admittedly not everyone's thing.

Beautiful dreams and have fun listening, 
your Redhead

Redhead   Night Shade 



'The Cruellest Month' is very important for me because I assumed that 'The Devil's Steed (2005) to be the last SOL-Invictus album would. I got rid of me a few years ago but the rotten wood in the band, and 'The Cruelest Month "shows that I've made ​​the right decision. Still, I'm still unsure if it's the end of something old or the beginning of something new. "(Tony Wakeford) in October 2009 as SOL INVICTUS Germany played their only concert, was already announced a new album and the set list contained .... too many new pieces should Because after "The Devil's Steed" So it will follow something but nothing came up now the 10th of June 2011, everyone should neofolk fan quite thick noted in the diary, because it's done: on time the concert at this year's Wave Gothic Treffen appears "The cruelest month", the 17th studio album of the neo-folk legend. "The cruelest month" is a typical Sol Invictus album. The 13 pieces are lovingly arranged and orchestrated. The unmistakable vocals Tony Wakeford has been like and how we love him for years. Even Andrew King is common to speak. The songs are edgy, painful, cynical, pessimistic and aggressive sound. This must apocalyptic folk. No light fare for beginners, but the Neofolk specialist will love the stuff. Wakeford describes his new album as "a meditation on aging and decline, not only for the individual, and also for the rich countries. It deals with the question whether the cruelty of life is simply a reflection of the cruelty of God, or whether we are merely cruel for cruelty's sake. It is a utopia free zone. " In addition to songs from the poisonous pen of Tony Wakeford the album contains a number of traditional songs, such as Andrew King's interpretation of the mass murder ballad "Cruel Lincoln" or Wakeford version of class war anthem "The Blackleg Miner". In addition to these two Anspieltipps there are still hits such as "Toys", "Edward", "The bad luck bird" and the fantastic title track. Needless to say that "The cruelest month" is an absolute buy recommendation and be part of any neo-folk collection Speaking collect. Also on June 10, also appears the complete discography of Sol Invictus on 27 CDs and 3 DVDs in a slipcase box with Auerbach record!

imBlutfeuer    terror GbR Musik Magazin




Death lives longer. This old saying applies to time and again in the music business. So went to the English folk musician Tony Wakeford middle of the last decade strongly believe that is his dark-folk combo Sol Invictus in their last breaths.

The 2005 released album "The Devil's Steed" he therefore regarded as the last album the band. Now, six years later, Wakeford but returns with new musicians and a fresh album back - the 17th Sol Invictus studio album since 1987.

With its 13 songs is "The Cruelest Month" on a total playing time of about one hour.

To hear is complex, relatively peaceful in the largely acoustic folk guitar, violin and flute in the foreground. Over here is the typical, quiet with mostly singing voice brought forward by Tony Wakeford. Most of the pieces is kept in a gloomy, quite melancholic mood, but sometimes the sound glides from too surreal.

"The Sailor's Aria" is an example of one of these cases - The sound of the ocean sings a little sailor song Wakeford, which is backed by one from somewhere ominous electronics background. In contrast, there are also some very straight and tidy-looking pieces such as "Edward".

Lyrically offers "The Cruelest Month" partly dripping sarcastic lyrics. Here is an example the song "Toys", is the act of toy figures on long, long gone astray. In addition to such original creations as well as the band uses traditional models such as the "Blackleg Miner".

All this is implemented in the sedate, mystical folk garb. From what you hear is the playing skills while fully in order, but of course you should not expect too big leaps, because space for any nimble violin solos or the like is not found in the quiet approach of the band for sure.

Anyway, directed "The Cruellest Month" less to Friends catchy melodies and choruses tempered, but rather to those listeners who instead place heavy emphasis on atmosphere and one intertwined for these longer deals with an album.


Who can get comfortable with a cozy, dimly lit concept of Sol Invictus, may look forward to a successful album.

Stefan Fruehauf   dark-festivals.de



The first album in six years from Tony Wakefield’s project sees the controversial figure with a renewed energy. His take on the neofolk genre has always been interesting, somewhere between typical JethroTull-esque quirk and a more experimental apocalyptical direction that’s akin to early Pink Floyd in psychedelic oddness. Wakefield himself dubs his music "a cabaret band from Hell for the fin-de-siècle" which sums it up pretty well; if The Cruellest Month proves anything to me it’s that I should listen to much more neofolk than I do. This is a rich, varied album, constructing soundscape after soundscape but never failing to write actual songs. Wakefield, of course, is part of neofolk royalty, having been a founding member of Death In June and worked with many stars of the scene.

And despite that aforementioned six-year break, The Cruelest Month shows there still to be plenty of lead in this project’s pencil. With a charmingly old-school production, rather brittle and shrill at moments, Wakefield and guests (including Andrew King and Eilish McCracken) produce a set of folk songs that show the genre still has much to say, even if some of it does seem rather dated in style. Toys, for example, with lyrics like ‘Noddy he makes snuff movies, Little Bear hung himself from a tree’ will not be as shocking as intended in these modern days where Hostel 2 raised few eyebrows! Yet the deranged psychedelic dirge that is the instrumentation is strangely timeless, as is much of the album elsewhere. Opener Raining In April’s mournful violin underpins Wakefield’s rough yet heartfelt vocals well, surprisingly heavy backing clatters growing in intensity and complexity before ending abruptly, the following To Kill All King’s starting flute oddly King Crimson-like in melody.

The Cruelest Month wanders, taking on folksy subjects as they arise. The Sailor’s Aria is what you’d expect, mournful singing backed with little but ships’ bells and seagulls, following into the shanty-esque Fools’ Ship. This kind of natural ebb and flow to the album helps lull you into a relaxed listen in a way few bands can manage, a fierce intelligence evident in even the track listing. The aforementioned Toys, for example, is followed by Edward, a chamber music-y ode to an absent child, and then by The Bad Luck Bird’s fluty lilt. What really a matter in the end, however, is that songs have enough of the infectious eccentric charm that makes the best folk music as good as it is. Take for example April Rain, starting with acoustic lushness akin to something from the soundtrack to Deadwood, and alone being proof enough that this is a fine album that more than warrants the attention of those interested in folk and its variances.


Killing Songs :

Raining In April, To Kill All Kings, Fool’s Ship, The Bad Luck Bird, Something’s Coming, Stella Maris, The Cruellest Month








Mastermind British musician Tony Wakeford & co. have released their first album in six years. Formed way back in 1987, Sol Invictus has accumulated over twelve albums in their career.

One of the first aspects that struck me, when listening to The Cruelest Month, was its originality. I mean this music is very different from what I normally listen to, in a good way though. I will not readily call this avant-garde, but it is certainly adventurous. According to the label, "Sol Invictus are the godfathers of classic Apocalyptic Folk", which is suiting them pretty well. The use of acoustic instruments is omnipresent on this album. The listener will not only be pleased by the organic tones of acoustic guitars, but will also have the pleasure to hear dulcimer, flute, violin, accordion and percussions. This is creating a very nice folksy ambience throughout the opus. The clean vocals are also adding their epic touch in a great medieval way. No harsh voices; just good vocals and choirs are what you get. There are some heavier moments with a bit of distortion and buzzing basses, although few and far in between. What makes this music different is the twisted use of those folk elements and the somewhat humoristic /strange lyrics. There are some songs that feel like old folk compositions, and I know a couple tracks are actually that, namely "Cruel Crimson" (mass- murder ballad) and "The Blackleg Miner". In a few occasions, you feel this mixture is a bit dissonant, but all the songs are melodic in their own way.

In the end, The Cruelest Month has opened up (hopefully for you too) a new musical direction that is full of cool tonic surprises and twisted stories.

Denis Brunelle  




Time away can be a very good thing sometimes and after the release of their last album "The Devil's Steed", it was clear to one and all that Sol Invictus needed a break. While the return to a more classic sound was appreciated by some, it was a bit dull considering the splendid back catalog Tony Wakeford and company have gifted us since 1987. Wakeford's been busy putting out solo albums and also resurrecting his classical ensemble L'Orchestra Noir with a stunning record entitled "If" in 2010. Every few years this band put out a definitive release and 'The Cruelest Month' is one of them. Also of note, even though most will not find it so, is the beautiful release he did with Matt Howden "Wormwood". It's a never ending fountain of varied and brilliantly inspired work which issues forth from this fellow.
His collaborative album with Nurse With Wound's Steven Stapleton was also recently re-issued in an expansive new version, lord knows what else is lurking in that labyrinth of a vault of his. But back to cases, it's all too easy to get off topic critiquing an individual with such an immense body of work...
This is easily the finest hour Sol Invictus have had since the incredible "In a Garden Green" over a decade back. The overall musicality and creativity of his other projects has only widened the scope of Sol Invictus' abilities. I do find myself enjoying the militancy some of this work possesses, it has been a while since this band have had so much fire in their belly. Wakeford's new creative partner M provides an ample foil to the somewhat nihilistic bent this band's director is given over to. There are many beautiful moments which are so fragile you almost don't want to speak while listening or they'll crumble before your very eyes. June is very strange month to release something like this, which is extremely dark and wintry in tone. Be that as it may, don't be dissuaded by the mood "The Cruelest Month" conjures, it's a fine example of splendid musical craftsmanship. To have such dynamic power with so little in terms of arrangement speaks volumes for how intrinsically potent this band are to anyone who prefer a challenging listen.
Strangely enough, at first I wasn't very excited about new material from this outfit given how much ground Wakeford has covered on his own in the last six years but as soon as the first song on here finishes it becomes clear just how special the chemistry of Sol Invictus is. Of the original wave of World Serpent acts, only this one remains relevant and with any luck this will change at last; this album is part of a massive boxed set which collects all of the band's work from their debut up until now. There are not many copies of it, but for those who do not have any exposure to this band it is something to look into. Even though I own all that this bunch have put out, I am more than tempted to plunk down the money for all the expanded versions, in particular his 1996 solo album "Cupid and Death" which is on my desert island disc list.
"The Cruelest Month" is an impressive tour de force which incorporates almost every facet of musical exploration this group has investigated while showing new sides to the band. It's all so well sequenced, so victoriously confident and if, as has been rumored, it is to be the final Sol Invictus release then it's an amazing opus to go out on. Here's to many more, Tony. Bravo!

Peter Marks    Brutal Resonance



If there were in the neofolk something like the shooting stars of this movement, it would be next to Death In June and Current 93 probably the most British of Sol Invictus around mastermind Tony Wakeford. In 1987 by multi-instrumentalist and singer, founded the project with various guest musicians, the scene coined years relevant and true today as influential to many other troops from this area, but after the 2005 album "The Devil's Seed" counted neither the fans nor Wakeford itself so that it would subsequently be no music of Sol Invictus - six years later, but now it's happened and the Englishman proudly presents his new work "The Cruelest Month," which proves once again that with Sol Invictus not all is said.

That accumulate in such a long time, many ideas, you can hear it clearly on the album because the songs on "The Cruelest Month" shine through above all versatility. Although the band's identity is not expected to hide, why not venture out this time in the not too far exploration regions and contrasted with the brusque rhythms at times surprisingly catchy moments. Are responsible for achieving in the first place some of the almost bombastic-sounding compositions, although they are sown rather sparse, but at those moments in a completely different effect than the introspective folk sounds or harsh, industrial-influenced synths. Also involved the guest musicians express the songs are often on their own stamps, which stand out in particular Andrew Kings contributions of the respective songs with his own idiosyncratic, breathes from shaky vibrato singing style used traversed a pale melancholy.

Usually carries "The Cruelest Month" but Wakeford characteristic signature, which is manifested both in musical and lyrical terms - whether, as in "April Rain" pictorial, usually cynical lyrics about biting rhythm, the same time by gentle strings and beeping synths or be accompanied by new interpretations of traditional songs like "The Blackleg miner", which is initiated by light-footed flute sounds and dreamy guitars and gets awarded later by the sound of drums and metal objects. As usual this is Wakeford is singing a factor that will divide opinions, because in spite of the interesting vocal coloration of the master can frequently has the feeling that he could succeed absolutely not to sing in the right key. Often the appeal of Sol Invictus lies precisely in this chaotic at first sight connection to the items placed in seemingly haphazard arrangement over another, hidden but in this rugged eccentricity also a very special atmosphere, to achieve the right state of mind an almost hypnotic effect able.

The contrary comparatively are accessible songs like the melodic, much less minimalist than the original single version from last year held "The Bad Luck Bird 'which, although surprisingly sing-compliant, Wakeford artistic ambition but not outside before leaves and by just those interweaving of accessibility and depth of the highlights of the album is one. But also in the other direction experimented when in "Toys" in the best martial-industrial manner, a march rhythm resounds and deconstructs Wakeford a quirky melody childhood heroes in typical British style ("Peter Pan is sleeping with whores") - a purely musical relatively spectacular, but the overall picture very interesting.

Even more variety to the already mentioned guest contributions from Andrew King into play, put the one primordial veil of sadness over the act: Lost and lonely trembling voice of the musician in "The Sailor's Aria" on the idyllic sounds of sea and menacing synth pads before the short distance to the strong, put forward by Wakeford "Fool's Ship" over heads which picks up themes from the Kings and sent contributions associated with wistful guitars and catchy flute melodies. Also two traditional on the album lends the guest singer his voice and breathed this once in a melancholy simplicity of oriental flair ("Edward"), which operates in the other case with a roar of exploding arrangements for an unexpected degree of aggressiveness ("Cruel Lincoln").

Ultimately, however, does just this wealth of variants on the thread "The Cruelest Month" phase, a little lacking, so the jumble of styles sometimes suffocating atmosphere in a continuous core. Those that do not interfere there, but a very convincing hodgepodge of sometimes more, sometimes less coherent songs that are deemed to be almost exclusively of superior quality and after a certain settling time for listeners who are unfamiliar with the band, in the long run able to bind with each pass and reveal further details. While the former is a clear line to Sol Invictus is of great importance for those who pull off safely by half a point from the standings, can remain for others a strong new album, which proves that the long wait has been worthwhile and the British still the undisputed vanguard of neofolk and include in the future can embark many ways.

Erik Voeckler   the-pit.de


To Tony Wakeford and Sol Invictus, June 2011 surely is not the cruelest month. For today, the Neofolk stalwarts not only release "The Cruelest Month," their long-awaited 17th studio album, also the press is euphoric about the return of Sol Invictus and their latest achievement: 

9.5/10 points, act of the month! ORKUS


10/10 points METAL.TM


5/6 points BODYSTYLER

6.5/7 points EARSHOT.AT



95/100 points FENIX WEBZINE

87/100 points ROCK TRIBUNE


"Wonderfully misty Folk Noir, authentic, unpretentious, and without any gimmickry. An essential and fascinating work!" ORKUS

"One of the best works of Sol Invictus. A fantastic comeback!" ECLIPSED

"13 songs highlighting the rough edges and the strengths of Tony Wakeford who presents himself in peak form!" BODYSTYLER 

"A stunning example of what is called 'folk noir'!" RITUAL

"There is just one word to aptly describe this album: masterpiece. 'The Cruelest Month' unites all the strengths of Sol Invictus to prove once more why this band is considered an absolute touchstone in the realm of classical Neofolk and Dark / Apocalyptic Folk!" METAL.TM

"Sol Invictus are longing for new light again. 'The Cruelest Month' is a testimony of this indefatigability." IKONEN

"Needless to say again how brilliant 'The Cruelest Month' is, but other artists will have to work damn hard to get it out of my top 10 for 2011!" PEEK-A-POO-MAGAZINE.BE

"A combative, but also melancholic and self-reflective Neofolk album that is guaranteed to disappoint no fan of the original old school of British Neofolk!" EARSHOT.AT

"In my opinion, Sol Invictus have never sounded quite as strong as on 'The Cruelest Month'!" MEDIENKONVERTER.DE

"'The Cruelest Month' is an absolute must-have and needs to be part of every Neofolk collection!" MUSIK.TERRORVERLAG.DE

"As expected, Sol Invictus deliver another masterpiece that caters to the highest demands and reproduces exactly the atmospheres that fans of this exceptional band are craving for – an absolute must-have!" KULTURTERRORISMUS.DE



A few days ago she called the big boss and said: "I know that you know of metal less than a dick, but I confirm that crazy about all those squeeze balls neofolk litanies and proto-Gothic?". My answer was yes, while not considering the litany of neofolk gothic and squeeze balls. I know that for many of you seem out of context i Sol Invictus than a name like Crush Brutal, but Aldo says that we can not investigate certain outputs and does only what a pleasure to me, so I had carte blanche to introduce you to a little 'more thoroughly their history. When you open a short parenthesis, suffered a curiosity and let's get out some of the most absurd fantasies, Sol Invictus, Sol Invictus, was that the Romans used the name for three gods, El-Gabal, Mithras and Sol, ok? Forgive me, I did not want to give anyone ignorant, but just thought EMPHASISES seen that for years, more often, or what the name of Sol Invictus, I feel of all colors. Let our history. It all starts in the late seventies and early eighties when a young punk, Tony Wakeford, not too in tune and awkward boy, devoted to the excesses and tired of his experience with the Crisis, spring totally change everything for the skin, although not has clear ideas on what it really meant to do. In his period of artistic research will meet the man who will change his life, Douglas P., becoming part of the Death In June, the band that has really upset the lives of the young Wakeford. In 1984, without any kind of friction and in agreement with Douglas, Tony leaves the Death in June to try a first solo project on behalf Above The Ruins, the result will be of little value CD halfway between the most common post-punk and sometimes reminiscent of Death In June, it's all too raw and immature. Only in 1987 Wakeford meet those who will help him bring out his genius, I'm speaking of Karl Blake and Ian Read, the two companions of adventure which gives life to the Sol Invictus and affect the band's masterpiece, the EP "Against The Modern World ". With this record, the Sol Invictus proposed something that until then had never been heard, a sort of mixture between a neofolk by almost baroque movements that was to weave with classical orchestrations and electronic arrangements. Understand well that in 1987 some were just futuristic crossover. I tell you that opening a parenthesis between p, live, and split several collections, the discography of Sol Invictus will be something really huge, I myself am still looking for some 7 "unavailable to complete my collection, so I prefer to tell you the next steps more significant record of the history of the band leaving out what he has not made a difference. Tony G in 1995 and they recorded that for most fans was the second masterpiece, "In The Rain." More romantic and dreamy known ep, but at the same time if you want even more modern and bad. "In The Rain" gives us some of the highest moments and evocative of the history of apocalyptic folk, think of gemstones as well as the single "In Days To Come" Wakeford which far exceeds the teacher Douglas P. I can not quote you, too, a CD, Pass me the term, "The Blade", an album that does not disappoint the expectations of its title and looks like a blade to the listener's ears. The apocalyptic neofolk sometimes enclosed in gems like the title track, or the wonderful "The House Above The World", creating a landscape of the listener in 'imaginative silent and dramatic, we were almost in the middle of an open space shortly after the ' explosion of a nuclear device, the radioactive ash that falls dale cello by way of snow and a strange smell of death that surrounds us and caresses. About a decade after the Sol Invictus gave us "The Devil's Steed", according to signed the best thing since "The Blade". Although lacking raise it, sometimes magical and sometimes surreal, with whom Tony had spoiled us in previous works, every lover of the band should have this chapter because it really is the first solo work of Wakeford, the first work in which, for exception of two tracks or so, he wrote all by himself. Again, the importance of this record is more historical than artistic, especially because basically nothing more than Tony did not dare to recycle much. Finally we arrive at "The Cruelest Month", an album on which I can only say that we are facing a real best seller taking handfuls of the best Sol hatto done in the course of their career by going to dredge up some of the design solutions " In The Rain "and making them even more bloody, more metaphysical and untouchable, repainting almost immobile and that imagery that had post-apocalyptic great album of 1995. Suffice it to say that this album is parked for three days continuously in my ipod, what is less usual than you might think. I'm done with this, sorry if I have dwelt but it was right to introduce in some way in the world of Tony Wakeford. 

(Tiziana Gervasoni)  BRUTAL CRUSH



The neofolk is having a strong moment of stasis and weaknesses from the point of view of both content and style. If the latest tests of Death In June and Current 93have been well received by the bland or negative criticism, all is in reference to a raging artistic career, which has allowed the development of a symbolic context, literary and emotional depth and able to branch out in different directions, often embracing experimentation between the underworld and the improbable. Douglas P .and David Tibet are following a path of peace, by simplifying and canonized their words, their concepts, in an image sweetened, who wants to get up slowly on the horizon. 
In parallel, the other founding neofolk project, of the Unconquered Sun Tony Wakeford, waited six years to bring the new original material. Meanwhile, it should be stressed, our English has followed his various side projects: The Triple Tree ,Orchestra Noir , Grey Force Wakeford, and of course his project of the same name, who showed his creativity still spontaneous and restless, focusing on research in the field of neo-classical and folk-noir. After the release of a 45 limited announcing, with the track "The Bad Luck Bird ', the arrival of a new LP, Tony wanted to wait another year before revealing he was working on the project: complete works, fully daughter of the mind and skin Wakeford, who wanted to find here a sign of his personality, building a bridge with the fundamental empathic 'In The Rain "(1995, Tursa). " Cruelest the Month "is a reflection on the cruelty of God and our inability to understand his work behind the negativity of the world, a sense of sadness to those who argue that evil is part organic, natural world and human nature. The cruelest month is not April as the poet TS Eliot said, but the cyclical nature of time around us, without distinction. Tony does not move so his yardstick to what has always defined as "decadence" of nature and human culture. But what should be a virtuous and Lp resignation shows misleading: "To Kill All Kings" is a hymn to anarchy, Wagner, intoxicated before the trip to "The Fool Ship", between fantasy and hallucinatory melodic chaos. An ancient martial, insistent, not dominant, but last retreat is scanned while a sweet flute holds the path to the end, every time. The parallel with "In The Rain" may seem inappropriate in terms of composing, but it is fitting at the level of nuance and emotion. As "In The Rain" introduce a slender, dark melody, and then urge in its evolution, "The Cruelest Month" follows the opposite direction, but it overlaps the same circle, it confuses the same rain. The second half of the disc off in Apart from its epic power, to focus all its shares in the voice & guitar Tony. The triptych's central "April Rain", "Cruel Lincoln" and "Something's Coming" compresses the words, intonation and rhythm in a confession swinging, meandering. "Wakeford" shows his charisma on a journey that will end in a parting film that expresses all its symbolic meaning. The word retains a central thread throughout the disc, chanting and dominating the pace. A force from the literary taste, or rather, linked to the strength of the theatrical tradition, runs the furrows of the compositions. Very few of the instrumental interludes and always will be justified by a change, a movement within a journey that the narrator wants us to take. But it is clear that Tony Wakeford has not created anything new. This is no different from Tibet or Pearce, but he kept alive the idea of his flesh, feeding, and avoiding the output losses through lack of artistic value. In this, "The Cruelest Month" shows up as pure and vibrant craft an artifact that raises us from the last low tide. 

By Michael Guerrini  ondarock.it


Until the 2005 album "The Devil's Steed" it Tony Wakeford had over the years with the help of people like Sally Doherty and Matt managed Howden, Sol Invictus in a more harmonious and classic direction to guide and integrate the "throne" even subtle jazz influences. He called the former lineup several times (including in the liner notes to the compilation "The Giddy Whirls of Centuries") as the best of the band's history.

Prior to "The Devil's Steed" left the above two musicians, the band and the album sounded too much then rough and rustic than its predecessor. Tor Lundvall also unusually sparse artwork could be read as an illustration of a certain reduction. Shortly after the release of the album left then even Eric, Roger and Charles Blake under less than pleasant circumstances, the band has since released the eternally productive Wakeford numerous solo albums and collaborations with others, not a new album by his main band and it was said that he was thinking in the meantime it to resolve it (the ballast of the past weighs sometimes and in this case - to put it mildly - very difficult).

Six of the thirteen on "The Cruelest Month" to-find songs are in one version or another in recent years been published, such as on compilations ("To Kill All Kings ',' The Blackleg Miner"), as an advance single ("The Bad Luck Bird, "" Stella Maris ") or on the live album DUO NOIR" Sintra "(the title track and" Edward "). If one believes the opening track "Raining in April" by the very melodic string passages still am here trying with a new line to build on classic albums and the former "Lieblingslineup" come quickly to rattling drums that make the piece will sound a little rougher before then with the other forms of "John Barleycorn Reborn" published "To Kill All Kings" this impression is totally dissolved: atonal strings, sounding like sirens, again brute drums and a hectic flute, which make the piece of bulky sound than the original version , because the interaction of each instrument always has a slightly atonal note. This will take almost a leitmotif throughout the album. Even the vocals sound rough accordingly. Gulls screeching announces the quiet "The Sailor's Aria" (a setting of a text of the Irish poet Nahum Tate) to: drones in the background accentuate Kings slightly skewed vocals. At the Seethematik (and accompanied fit of an accordion) continues, "Fools' Ship" at the Ship of Fools, which was used with slightly different names and Wakeford as a venue and the (syntactically bumpy and semantically slightly oblique) lines of "Books and bodies burn / To prove we never learn to show "as usual, a disillusionment and skepticism when it comes to human progress (and you must be sick already Wakeford minded when it thinks that by listening here a plumer downfall-the-West-fantasies). Thematically linked "Toys" on it: As a metaphor for the disastrous state of the world is the destructive classical and well-known toys: The innocent and not reaching maturity Peter Pan "is sleeping with prostitutes," Action Man, the English version of GI Joe's, a pederast and Noddy turns snuff films (three random examples of many) and at the end there is the pessimistic conclusion: "[!] we are easily brought and easily sold / England expects you to do as your bloody well told [!]" (a lecturer would not have been bad). King guitar accompanied by wearing the traditional "Edward" and here just before the last instrumental, again slightly lopsided final minutes to save the pieces of too much predictability. The already known "The Bad Luck Bird 'with the great combination of driving acoustic guitar and flute is perhaps the hit of the album. The instrumental "April Rain" with flute, dulcimer and fiddle refers to the first track. On eight minutes is Kings Interpretation of the traditional "Cruel Lincoln," set to music as "Long Lankin" already by a number of other bands. What starts here with a subtle acoustic guitar, increases in the course of history presented in an aggressively-rumbling piece; here impressed with how the vocals to the persistent representation of the murder at the end increases. Distorted vocals can be found in the otherwise fairly typical SOL INVICTUS number "Something is coming". "Stella Maris" is to be compared with some other tracks, however, almost a bit anti-climatic, though not a bad play. The title track is reserved, a flute introduces the song, followed by strings and dulcimer, which Wakerford disillusioned again "This indeed is the cruelest month / We swap young limbs for bloody stumps / This indeed is the cruelest month / The hiss of snakes and governments "intoned. Here, the title alludes, of course, on perhaps the most famous poem in the English language, TS Eliot published in 1922 magnum opus "The Waste Land" (whose opening lines of "April is the cruelest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land" even the opening lines "When that April, with his Shouren soot / The drought of March hath precede to the roots "of Chaucer's Canterbury Tale reverse s). With the anti-scab anthem "The Blackleg Miner", the album ends brutally.

Consistently it is striking that the acoustic guitar a lesser role than plays before, how vital it almost completely re-occupied band is and how little Wakeford has anything to do with a genre that is nowadays often populated transferred by breeches worthy people and wannabe hunters, whose stiff poses, the complete musical and lyrical content and irrelevance to hide their tracks. For those who can not do much with often tedious campfire, this is harsh, often atonal music is a welcome antidote, and perhaps one should Wakeford want a try this corner to get out, because his music has long been far from it, so large on "Something's Coming" question "Do you play dead or do you advance?" easy to answer.

(JM)  blackmagazin.com


Sol Invictus and Tony Wakeford Apocalyptic folk genre are an unchallenged institution. The foundation is backdated to 1987, shortly after he alighted from DEATH IN JUNE is to launch his solo career. Since then he has brought it to an incredible 17 studio albums. "The Cruelest Month" is the first album since 2005, a time, had seen in the Tony Wakeford the band's history ended. But some changes in personnel have the ever restless spirit again drove ambition and thus making the new album decided was up. Well, just this album to have that on the label Auerbach first record, and on that Tony has brought all his strengths together, Pure, raw, full of cruelty, thematic and musical sophistication. Of course the center of it all Tony's voice, which towers above it all strong and domineering. To the edgy and heavy acoustic guitars and lots of secondary melodies that seem to play their own songs, and still produced an impressive overall picture. So it is a flute, a violin or an accordion, which permeate all apparently regardless of the severity of the sounds their own thing. Sounds confusing, it is, but just as awesome, if you look into it has heard there. The music is less catchy than that of FORSETI or SUN HAGAL, ​​but requires quite the listening folk. According to Wakeford the album is a "meditation on aging and decline, not only for the individual, even for the rich and states. It is about the question of whether the cruelty of life is simply a reflection of the cruelty of God or whether we just cruel are for cruelty's sake. It is a utopia free zone. "As a face-off tip I would call "The Bad Luck Bird ', which was both great tunes, but also touched with a lot of the dark souls of melancholy. A truly compelling continuation of the acts of Sol Invictus, or an impressive comeback, no matter how you want to call it, a simple good album! 

Michi   amboss-mag.de




Not once have I met a Tony Wakefield Ford led the British band's name, which in many noble simplicity of the "godfather of apocalyptic neofolk" adjective. Perhaps not coincidentally, as the band's debut EP stood still in 1987 (!) Appeared since then - if I counted up the various pages available discography individual pieces - this disc in the sixteenth album, numerous concerts, 7 "and other publications besides, for me it's the first time that a more serious deepens their work.

Despite the fact that I like this kind of music, certainly not a light, carefree experience became richer. Make no mistake: this is a good disc. But the music milieu, emitting very cloudy, what is more, especially at times sinister, just her inability to run. We must dedicate time to learn about, but it does not guarantee that students will be able to fully absorb this almost hour of play time, a judge of art. Several foreign side of the post-industrial label is also mentioned in relation to them, not without reason, but a variety of wind and stringed instruments make them more of the folk genre is closer. Of course, this is just one of a variety of effects, because this music, then do not ráhúzni be a one-dimensional bar. Mostly the (acoustic) guitars provide the foundation, then color the rest of the instrument, sometimes a little confusion of Babel, in fact, seems to express inharmonious the mixture is very much in it sense. A strange feeling once in a forest on an autumn walk in the cause, other times at the beach break waves of bittersweet melancholy robajával intrude ringatott álmodozásába student again elsewhere Irish / Celtic harmonies reminiscent of the mood themes firebox. Weird ... I like it. I can not say that entirely, because Tony is not quite me bejövős sonorous organ, sometimes impish looks, and some songs are not really about me. Of course, regardless of The Bad Luck Bird or The Month Cruellest really impressive pieces. Plus good points are awarded me the cover, which is a Tor Lundvall , an American painter / artist oil painting of using materialized (and not incidentally, a common musical project is also on already worked together with Tony val). He számolatlanul gathers similar style plates, they can provide new in this close to having hours of play time stuff, but as I wrote above, is difficult to express himself

It 'a meditation on the passage of time and of growing old, and the relative decline as individuals, as to empires and nation states. It has to do with the question of whether the cruelty of life is simply a reflection of the cruelty of God, or if we are simply a cruel purpose . Words by Tony Wakeford, mind and soul of Sol Invictus, this unexpected return on record. Let's face it: "The Cruelest Month" is the typical hard Sol Invictus, neither more nor less, except a few mentioned shift towards popular music in the strict sense of the term, but nothing striking on a stylistic level. Two acoustic guitars around which the universe revolves around the band's compositional and conceptual. Rather, the universe of Tony, who, by escaping from the Death In June in the first half of the '80s, in part has shrugged off a wave of controversy purely political refuge in less controversial than that of Douglas P. Nothing new then, but we can say that the album in question is the best out of Sol Invictus to be 'In The Rain' to this part both in terms of composition, both on the executive as the songs are compact, intense, and the work done by Wakeford and his voice finally returned not in a fistfight with the uncertainty of recent times. Pessimism, misanthropy, social commentary, existential turmoil do the rest, as usual with a black brush strokes paint an increasingly brink of the abyss. A come-back which adds nothing compared to what was said until yesterday, but at least it has found a band that, while artistically stagnant, unable to climb the slope with a thick disk. Postponed several times, but rightly saw the result.
If you grasp the difference that lies behind the poetic titles of the songs "Raining In April" and "April Rain" , apparently similar, then it is a disc for you. 

Andrew Punzo  hardsounds.it



Sol Invictus, one of the godfathers of neofolk, with a discography that has its roots in 1986 and now comprises less than 26 titles. Wakefold Tony is the founder and the only constant member is the brains behind the band. Not an unknown name, he has been a musician in the group post-industrial/folk Death in June. Wakefold describes the music of Sol Invictus himself as "folk noir" and the band is widely regarded as one of the founding fathers of apocalyptic folk / folk noir, along with August P. Death in June.

Since I'm a layman am when it comes to Sol Invictus comes, I will this artist (and album) as such treatment, so first a little background information about Tony Wakefold: 
He's at that time a lot of dust on doing blow, since it has a member been the "British National Front," a National Socialist organization. This is the reason why he had to leave Death in June, and one of his songs during the band Above The Ruins on a music compilation stood with bands such as RAC Skrewdriver and Brutal Attack. Wakefold however, claims that he is not on neo-fascism, and he looks back on his membership in the British National Front with more than a little embarrassment.

It's been quiet lately around Sol Invictus, and if we Wakefold statements last year has done to believe it is quite possible that this is the last record of his current band will be. After more than 25 years, I can imagine that it's time for something new. Nevertheless, Wakefold been busy since this ruling in 2010 came "The Bad Luck Bird 'out, and less than one year afterward Auerbach, Prophecy Productions' department for emotional music that contains no metal and is mostly acoustic (neofolk?) Sol invictus latest feat The Cruel Lesson Month in.

Sol Invictus is not accessible band. This is the intro to Raining in April immediately obvious. In neofolk think many Dutch to Omnia or mob, and their bouncy music (or recently jumpy, Omnia was a not so distant past used to be a serious neofolk band that did more than free love and greens promote or politicians falling off every chance they get ). An ambient soundscape created with a violin melody with nothing but sadness and pessimism from speaking. Painful, absolutely ... but also very beautiful.Wakefold from his doubts about religion. Can there be a god who can only be good? According to him:

What kind of god, if he made ​​us 
choose Would be predator or prey us 
Not a god of love but a deity that's wrong 
And with that i end this song

The violin appears to be an important tool throughout the CD. Not just in the intro makes his appearance, but also in To Kill All Kings makes his appearance. This issue is a profound violin piece which is around chanting "To kill all kings."

Mankind is cruel; this is the theme in every song that comes back. We are cruel because a divine entity has made ​​us so? Whether we are cruel, just because this is our nature? One of the tracks that the nature of cruelty is sung is Edward. This song was written by George Dunn and Quarry Bank. The main character is a little boy what his brother has been murdered and his sister plans to be left alone... He explains why he did it, and this number shows that any act of cruelty is a result of another act of cruelty:

What did you kill your dear little brother for? 
Oh my boy, come tell it unto me now 
For the killing of three little dickey birds 
from tree to tree That Flew

If I should write a conclusion on this record, then it is the following. Sol Invictus just proves with this album that they belong to the top of the apocalyptic folk are, and the beautiful melodies that sometimes tormented his pure folk, sometimes ambient, sometimes jazzy, inviting me over a little out of order in the history of this band to dive and listen to their older material. This CD is highly recommended for fans of dark melancholic music, even metal. If you like Emporium, Agalloch, Les Discreet, Alcest, or even suicidal black metal and keep feeling adventurous, then this band I can, highly recommend this album. 

Whisperes   ragherrie.com





After a Fourth-century must be the British bards Sol Invictus by Tony Wakeford probably not imagine. 17 albums you have published to date have been reprinted in Prophecy (plus a few solo albums) in an attractive box. Of particular interest, however, after prolonged abstinence is the new album: "The Cruelest Month".

Six years ago, was with "The Devil's Steed" published a marginalized wrongly work on Dark Vinyl, which returned after years of experiment to the traditional roots of folk chords and powerful vocals combined with militancy. The last year released single "The Bad Luck Bird ' seemed to confirm this approach: The driving title track, urged the anthems of the early years ("A Ship is Burning," "Looking for Europe" and other unforgettable classics), and yet something was different. The new lineup took a more sophisticated instrumentation in the band: drums, bodhran, flutes, two strings, drums, bass ... The sound of the two single tracks appeared significantly thicker and also by a sharp cut in the mix, while albums of the decade had become softer and more and more earlier neoclassical. The second vocalist Andrew King also brought into a very traditional English folk style. To make it short: Sol Invictus show up in full force and at the same time a new sound.

On "The Cruelest Month", where "The Bad Luck Bird 'is also represented, this new path is pursued. Tony Wakeford says himself:. "'The Cruelest Month' is very important for me because I assumed that 'The Devil's Steed (2005) to be the last Sol Invictus album would I got rid of a few years ago but the rotten wood in the band, and 'The Cruelest Month' shows that I've made the right decision. But I'm not sure if it's the end of something old or the beginning of something new. "Sol Invictus are so 2011 has become less age-wise and calm, as energetic and confident. So distorted vocals emerge ("Something's Coming"), reminiscent of the post-industrial roots of the musicians, screeching electric bass sounds like in the early years with Karl Blake, but also sawing strings as on the solo CD "La Croix".

"The Cruelest Month" is not a light meal, the sound seems straightforward and aggressive, and the tunes go over and over again in Dossonanzen that Akustgitarre sounds raw. Content is correspondingly pessimistic, even bitter, partly what little surprising when you consider Wakeford curvy and controversial career. It alternates between lyrical phrases of the distinctive front man with traditional songs from the Andrew King usually interpreted: the mass murder ballad "Cruel Lincoln" or the class struggle anthem "The Blackleg Miner" for example.

Sol Invictus live and play in the studio's always in a category. Without them later bands like: Of the Wand and the Moon or Sun Hagal unthinkable. And yet it strives always to a new light. "The Cruelest Month" is evidence of this indefatigable.

Manic    ikonenmagazin.de




Sol Invictus is a name that sounds like a legend. The kind of untouchable name which, by its evocation, division or unit. Anyway, Sol Invictus has a new album that should be talked about in a short time. Often considered one of the founders of neofolk with Death In June and Current 93 , Sol Invictus has developed over time a unique style which sound still resonates as a messianic prophecy hints at disturbing. If the album In The Rain marks a milestone in itself discography by its richness, its subtlety and softness, each disc of Sol Invictus is in itself an event. And this new album, The Cruellest Month goes even further in his musical evolution and presents a future classic of the band Tony Wakeford. Raining In April opens the ball with his sinister, apocalyptic and powerful as rarely Sol Invictus we had shown. The voice feature is a very fast dimension disturbing, prophetic, and the instruments increase the tempo, increasing its intensity every second, even from becoming terribly stuffy and oppressive. Yet, the instruments used here have nothing threatening in the beginning, unlike electric guitars sizzling as found in Black Metal. No, here, Sol Invictus only uses folk instruments, but the intensity of which gives a strong apocalyptic dimension. The following titles are a slightly different pattern, but found each time threatening the adrenaline rush, with dramatic percussion, sounds strange. And there are even elements borrowed from the latest albums of Current 93 slight noises, which reinforces the apocalyptic side and decadent music from Tony Wakeford. The style of Sol Invictusis difficult to define as it is rich and varied, but the use of folk instruments, traditional instruments and the singing of Wakeford could correspond to a neoclassical neofolk apocalyptic. It is obvious that the feeling of impending end of the world is a feeling that keeps coming, at least in this latest installment. If the sublime In The Rain seemed full of tranquility and peace you feel here a much stronger message and sense of urgency is recreated perfectly here, so that even the less intense passages keep this sudden concern in the corner a note in a bitter tone of voice. For this record, Wakeford has surrounded himself with really good musicians and brings a big plus to the music of Sol Invictus . And strangely, one still has its very raw and powerful. This new album can be approached from different perspectives depending on the mood of the listener, and also making it his wealth over the sheets. But another attraction is the variety of titles.Each reveals a new facet of Sol Invictus . Cruelest with the Month, Sol Invictus probably a sign of future classics of the genre. Taking a sound, apocalyptic sounds serious to each note. An album shivering, original and inspired that will continue to attract the fascination from his contemporaries, and long after...

Pit  http://fr.metalship.org




Rau martial and Sol Invictus the cruelest months have ready for her fans

In their minds no flowers grow. Monotone's martial drumming on drums and larynx. Sonorous voices accompany the marching music, which is to be understood meditative. But no one can relax determined at the latest "living record" of the House of Tony Wakeford. A heating system, the man apparently on "The Cruelest Month" is not even dressed.

Sol Invictus: The Cruelest Month

Otherwise would make homey atmosphere while listening to the pieces broadly, founded in 1987 and once somewhat controversial band would embark on a journey through time, the name of folklore is also just. But middle age is called for here. Not even ancient times or Celts. It sees itself as the vanguard. But new except gloomy shake and deliberate growls owns the music division "Neo Folk" not much, except embarrassing displays of brutal verbiage, musical muscle and a strange haze of mysticism, Welterneuerertum and joyless march through the songs. Whence comes it? One can only guess. The British are at least descendants of the Germanic tribes of the Angles and Saxons, Vikings a few have also mixed among them. On the island they had among themselves, even has a glowing bar gay king with allegedly impaled. A Rohe manner has it until the 19th Century given into it. Even as the English kings and dukes, knights, and the devil knows everything to the "Holy Land" streamed from India and Africa brought a few slaves, not even one ignited the debate on integration. On the contrary, they made ​​the world as a colonial subject - Africa, Asia, India, Australia, and America. These are certainly some funny stories in which the state itself was not there, but like it says. How glorious was once even the "Empire"! "How beautiful and idyllic, the world was, as you have a thief on the next tree aufknüpfte, critics or simply ripped out the tongue, or hands chopped off. What a Wonderful ancient world. 
Those are issues that the neo-folk genre like forgetting times, instead immersed in the mystical world and heal like to get all the way back would be happy. As it may interest one ever burning, whether people like Tony Wakeford would be called the Celtic sacrifice burns well -. If they put themselves in the victim man of straw , or it works just about picking mistletoe from which Getafix brew potions that the warriors silly against the Romans can start to run? Why has named the band after even after a Roman god? Were the victims of gladiator fights and games civilized? Gotterdammerung? In any case, the record label called Auerbach record the new work by the British "Neofolk" formation Sol Invictus just that band as "god fathers of Apocalyptic Folk". Of course the fact forgetting that actually David Tibet gave his band Current 93 this division term to be made ​​available by the 'neo folk' scene delineate who adorns herself with martial sounds direct and indirect allusions to Nazi symbols and uniforms, with their "Hitler Youth timpani" running around. And swagger of conservatism, that in addition to the earlier everything was just better and that the "new" is better still. There were and are still worth something family and community, also shall be again. Calls it a conservative alue is spongy and diffuse term that seems to attract also people from the right edge of society. Or just simply people who feel lost in the complex contexts. But with these utopias do not want to decorate Wakeford. Instead, he said, according to label information in his "edgy" songs about the decline of states that are rich, it is quite pessimistic and cynical, meditates over the aging process. Perhaps Wakeford also consider that it was quite been stupid to join in the eighties, the British National Front, a neo-fascist organization in which most of the former band members, Ian Read (including Death in June, Current 93, Sun Hagal , a musician who obviously regarded as superior and once wanted to build a network of such people, Ed) and Gary Smith, probably even longer than Tony Wakeford feel welcome. This controversy is still looking for him, even though Wakeford expressed again and again to be a neo-Nazi more. He was sometimes a real left-wing radical, but he is apparently for nothing more. Instead, prescribes Sol Invictus now his musical roots in the no less controversial, neo-folk band Death in June, when heavy drumming and growling deep male voice choirs in the track "Kill All Kings" is interpreted. Wakeford also reaches back into British folklore when he sing the "Blackleg Miner", can an old song from the 19 Century, the already interpreted Inchtabokatables and Eric Fish -. But musically sophisticated his lyrics are no longer collections of quotations from philosophers, which were appropriated by the Nazis and neo-Nazis, but there are colored autobiographical content. Nevertheless, his concert at the Wilhelm-circular domed hall at the WGT 2009 more or less "uniform fetishists" had been visited, the think probably not with the wear-inspired Nazi uniforms to the millions of murders of Jews, dissidents and artists. What a Wonderful World neo-folk. That being said, the music of Sol Invictus not the sound that rips off a stool. Do the songs either in sound or texts in depth, maturity and narrative form that would make an album like "The Cruelest Month," a worthwhile purchase. Flowers grow not just in the dark shadows where Sol Invictus and fiddle are not a few supporters before their unstructured songs. The sun is shining somewhere else. 

Daniel Thalheim  




The new album Sol Invictus, and was surprised and pleased. Somehow it happened that this group, I lost sight of five years ago - and their classic albums yet know, but the current work - no longer exists. The more pleasant it was to make sure that on-site group is not: sound recognizable from the first bars, but there were also new features.

Style, chosen by the group during the early albums seemingly simple: songs with a guitar, which at first glance, are capable bard and recall. Here are just coming from a vague feeling of "sumasshedshenki", a kind of otherworldly. And yes: acoustic guitar, violin and vocals quite recognizable: not too much for my taste, the music, but very atmospheric, and make their contribution in the same shade bezuminki that I mentioned.

On this album, the group is much more abundant uses a variety of effects in his sound: so that the base of some ballad tracks washed away and they start to sound pretty tough. In this respect, is very revealing an opening song: just like the band wants to show that napping at her new songs will not work.

Another marked feature of me - that a new album every pereslushivanii perceived a little differently, with some new accents. Some songs, however, clung in any case: To Kill All Kings - threatening, vaguely reminiscent of Manowar ... Next to her, The Sailor's Aria, sung almost akkapello under the creaking of masts and other recognizable sounds of the sea. Edward - a good, nervous, and this song is probably the most loved - Cruel Lincoln: a tense thing, in which the quiet voice gradually develops to a rather Neanderthal sound.

Sure to be one of the best neo-folk releases of the year
There’s no denying that mastermind Tony Wakefords has earned his writing wings, having created music since 1977, with the likes of bothCrisis and Death In June, and even his ‘current’ project, Sol Invictus, has been around for just over a whopping quarter of a century now.  And though one would usually say that age makes us more cynical as time goes by, in the case of Mr. Wakeford it could be said that the man seems to have been jaded most of his career, as can be witnessed by his lyrical view on life.  This is of course not necessarily a bad thing, as this only reflects the bands musical offerings, which is often melancholic, bleak and very minimalist.  For those who have never previously heard Sol Invictus before, the closest to describing the neo-folk band would be, a quaint cross between Dead Can Dance and Morgenstern.
Though musically strong, the standout has to be the pessimistic and nihilistic lyrics of Tony Wakeford who has himself described them as: ‘a meditation on ageing and decline as individuals, empires and states. It deals with the question if the cruelty of life is simply a reflection of the cruelty of god or if we are simply cruel for cruelty's sake. It is a utopia-free zone’, a statement that could be considered pretty accurate, as witnessed in songs like opener Raining In April and Toys, though obviously not wanting to taking all the credit himself, Sol Invictus have also included several traditional numbers such the scathing, The Blackleg Miner, and the horrific Scottish folk tale, Cruel Lincoln.
Both musically, and lyrically, Sol Invictus exceed where so many others fail, and The Cruellest Month should appeal to all those who lean towards a nihilistic lifestyle. Here’s to the next one. 



In search for the best word a man may get speechless, in search of a feeling one may get numb, the same happens when someone it’s trying to be true, authentic and above all, sincere, then it may get lost. But often he finds the light at the end of the tunnel, like some sort of epiphany that in the ends its something really simple & perhaps too much prosaic but nevertheless ultimately essential for the spirit. Watching himself within the mundane aspect of a mirror’s reflection. “The cruelest month”, the latest album by Sol Invictus involves both the aspect of a spiritual and lyrical search patented through a record of quality that ultimately recovers consistence and a patented labor of identity.

Tor Lundvall’s cover artwork (Unfortunately I have to say that we review material using mp3 therefore we lose reference with proper material in a deeper way) seems to be an adequate visual reflection of the album’s spirit. Lundvall’s impressionism fits perfectly with the sense of factual dilution that the music represents (and of the reality it deals with, at least the ultimate consequences of a contemporary reality) the opaque characters depicted also reflect the mystic and isolated ghost world in where someone with certain degree of consciousness and sentiment may find contemplating his own demise portrayed in exterior events. Consistently this is the thematic of the album but we find a Sol Invictus standing in the middle ground of a character finally found. A search that started with “Thrones” and proceeded with “Devil’s steed” now finding base here. The melancholic and dreadful character continues to be a loyal friend both lyrically and poetically, but we find a “heavier” album by definition, somehow cutting bonds with any sort of idealism based on hope, sounding ultimately true to his own intentions.

The listener will find the classy Sol Invictus sound but with some edges that has been found along the way, some sparks of psychedelic effects here and there through a very organic instrumentation that enhances the vivid compositions, some more solid construction on traditional folk music that shows a tremendous development, an incredible song writing quality that impresses both in form and content with studies like the traditional Henry Purcell’s “Sailor’s aria” that in the voice of Wakeford and with the delicate instrumental ornaments and the ghostly atmosphere created by them becomes an instant classic of modern folklore. The same happens with the mystic and bucolic “Edward”, how powerful and terrible the voice from Wakeford sounds! And with the exquisite background of sea waves, glockenspiel, flute and twelve guitar as minimal accompaniments it surely improves the drama of the piece. The band manages to create atmosphere as never before, with an incentive that is totally focused on drama and impression. The array of effects used this way really transport the listener beyond the powerful poetics and brings metaphors of pure sound into his mind. In “Something is coming” we can hear the blast as product of some kind of cataclysm, while the orchestration takes special care with the crescendo to release the momentum. “Fool’s ship” instead creates an ambience of insanity, where the melody rapidly dissolute into vaporous psychedelic construction made entirely instrumentally. The bass guitar remains as the only chord that retains a part of reason and lyrical order amidst the ghostly but powerful cacophony of instruments. Meanwhile on tracks like “Kill all kings” and “Toys” we can clearly identify old style from the band with its raw percussion and simpler bass guitar chords with defiant vocals to bring a grain of power into the mostly dramatic play. “The cruelest month” its an album that captures the essence and development from the band in just proportions and satisfies the listener both emotionally and musically, the intrepid additions of atmospheric instrumentation are definitively an ace for the record, improving by far the power of the composition and enhancing the limits of the basic instrumentation of drums, bass guitar and cello that has been the classic core from the band. It's an album of romantic shock as usual, but with incredibly impressionist character and beautifully crafted dramatist of English nature. Poetics and atmospherics in a sustainable fraternity.

Dyonisian Apollo    Heathen Harvest



It's been six years since The Devil's Steed , during which Tony Wakeford is not idle, busy with several other projects (Orchestra Noir, Duo Noir, Owls) and various concerts, but now finally sees the light of the new (and more times postponed), The Cruelest Month . The album was preceded last year by the single "The Bad Luck Bird / Stella Maris" (songs that we find on the album) and establishes, through its thirteen tracks, the absolute importance of the project in view of Tony Wakeford the so-called folk-apocalyptic, with the rest to be counted among the founders. If you already set aside the previous album had the sound experiments of the Hill of Crosses and (especially) Thrones, this new record replaces the Sol Invictus in the territories more congenial to them, ranging from the usual traditional ballads and songs brand new, with lyrics steeped of pessimism, disillusionment and misanthropy ("Books and testing bodies to burn we never learn" Tony sings in "Fool's ship", one of the best parts of the disc). Among the other episodes of the tip, the title track, "To kill all kings," "Raining in April", "Something is coming" and two songs from the aforementioned single. Surrounded by good staff, Andrew King, Renee Rosen, Caroline Jago, etc. ... Tony Wakeford has made ​​a good record, which while not adding anything new to what was stated in more than twenty years of existence of the project fits in its own right in gallery of his best albums (remember also that the entire, vast, discography Sol Invictus is the subject of reprinting these days).



Neofolk scene is often associated with the metal scene and found a lot of amateur metal fans in this music, but I never really understood why. It has also recently been able to attend at the Cernunnos Pagan Fest to show (great by the way) of Ataraxia, group about as metal as Georges Moustaki is emo ... 
In this scene, the release of an album by Sol Invictus is in itself an event, since it is one of the fathers of the genre by Tony Wakeford formed after his departure from Death In June, that may reasonably be considered the first group of style shortly before Current 93 (with whom Tony Wakeford has also worked). Mysterious entities around its leader during good behavior, Sol Invictus present this year's seventeenth album "The Cruelest Month" which is also the first in six years. 
From a musical point of view, we are completely in the Sol Invictus: a rare musical richness, variety, intensity, purity. The difference from previous albums is in an atmosphere more oppressive and strange (the epic of "To Kill All Kings" for example) and less imbued with calm and fulfillment. Yet the group uses mainly folk instruments (various types of violins, guitars, accordion, percussion noises with more synths very typical experimental progressive rock of the 1970s), but not with a view "Tut Tut pouet" on Stille Volk (although fans will find their account flutier in "The Bad Luck Bird '), but more to create real and palpable atmosphere complex. The recognizable voice of Tony is one of the driving forces of this music and what is remarkable is that its timbre is sufficient unto itself and often takes a lot of emotion beyond the music that the accompanies it whether in the incantations chanted of "The Cruelest Month", the effects of choir or simple chants ("Raining In April" where there is a resemblance to sacred Roger Waters), a breath of fresh air in our time of voice overproduced and formatted. The music of Sol Invictus is not confined to one era and region as a folk often is, it is a universal music (almost oriental accents of "Toys") and universal through the waltz, motets of the Middle Ages, industrial noises, in short, barrier-free music ... 
This "Cruelest The Month" is a beautiful neofolk music album, a must for fans of the genre, and something to listen to anyone open to musical experimentation...

Bakunin   pavillon666.fr



Sol Invictus projects the dark obsessions and humor of its founder Tony Wakeford. Tony's career began in the punk group Crisis, before progressing through Death In June to the formation of Sol in 1987. Tony has also worked with other artists including Current 93 and recorded with Andrew Liles and Steven Stapleton of Nurse with Wound and the ambient musician and artist Tor Lundvall.
As well as these collaborations he has also recorded several albums under his own name, the most recent being "Not All Of Me Will Die" released by the Israeli Eastern Front label. Tony's other more recent projects include the neoclassical Orchestra Noir, and The Triple Tree who are signed to Cold Spring records.
Tony's pessimistic vision of humanity and inhumanity is a very singular one, and he has maintained it by remaining the only permanent member of Sol, bringing in combinations of other musicians as required for each album or performance.

Along with the likes of Death In June and Current 93, Sol Invictus are probably one of the most well known groups in the whole neofolk movement. In my mind, this project of Tony Wakeford is also one of the most consistent acts in the genre. In the recent decade or so, newer bands who are actually really invigorating and exciting have been popping up, but very few manage to capture my heart in the same way that this group has. 
Neofolk is really a genre that I've enjoyed for some time, yet never really gotten too heavily involved in until the last few years or so. My first experience was probably through Agalloch, and finding their split with Nest, further nurturing my affinity for the style. It wasn't long after that that I found bands like Sol Invictus and Death In June, and that's when I started to really get into the genre. Throughout their career, Sol Invictus has always nurtured that traditional folk sound while mixing in some other elements along the way in various albums. Personally, this album really brings a little bit of each of their albums to the table. 
In the past, the band has experimented with the use of drone/doom elements, a little bit of industrial and even classical music, along with various forms of instrumentation, but all of them really appear to come out on here. The likes of To Kill All Kings and Something's Coming retain that heavy distortion in the background while the likes of Toys and Edward are much more playful and more traditional to a folk sound. Like some of their other material, the sounds on here are almost playful and childlike in nature, with some very memorable melodies being used throughout. Personally, I love the sound of a flute, and the way it's performed on here just made me swoon. I wouldn't say the band have done anything any different with the lyrics on here, being just as grim as ever. 
Despite all of this, this is not all that original a disc, for the band, really not going outside of their boarders too much and not really giving me as memorable songs, but that's just me. I still liked this album quite a bit, just not as much as some of their past work. Definitely check this band out if you're into any sort of folk music, if you haven't already that is.

Maskofgojira   Don't Count On It Reviews



There can be no doubt that Sol Invictus represent the very best of the Neo-Folk genre. Tony Wakeford’s unique approach to his eccentric, pagan and quintessentially English music has been as intriguing as it is rewarding.

More robust and less fey than Current 93, while not quite as ‘difficult’ as Death In June, Sol Invictus are the perfect entry point into the genre for metallers seeking new musical pleasures.

After all, who could forget Agalloch’s cover of Sol’s ‘Kneel to the Cross’? The quality of their interpretation drew massive praise and is still remembered fondly by many, a decade after the fact.

It’s been a fraught history though. Leaving Death In June (amicably) after getting caught up in dodgy politics, much of which he’s subsequently retracted; Wakeford nonetheless carries something of a stigma for people who like to get worked up about these kinds of things. His music however speaks for itself, and with more class than ever on this new album.

He’s resurfaced for a this one leaving Cold Spring for Prophecy Records - as good a move as any. It looks like some re-releases are on the way off the back of it as well, giving us all a chance to pick up stuff that’s only really around on eBay.

‘The Cruelest Month’ confirms his place as an esoteric songwriter of serious importance. Trying to explain the appeal isnt easy, but if you’ve ever gotten the chill of the ‘The Wicker Man’ film, you’ll feel that same macabre English paganism at work here. A facile comparison obviously. But one many will understand.

Lead track ‘Kill All Kings’ thumps in with its martial drumming and oppressive, threatening call. An instant classic, it conjures Wakeford as an impassive, implacable voice. It’s followed quickly by the flutes and tinkles of ‘Sailor’s Aria’. This one’s a little lonlier sounding, perhaps more pensive, but full of the same windy darkness.

The quality is maintained throughout. ‘Fools Ship’ sees Wakeford again using his odd, priestlike accent to strange, folkish effect. ‘Toys’ borrows directly from Current 93, setting childish images (familiar allusions to Noddy etc) in grim modern day situations. It’s a beguiling track, particularly with it’s “man in the moon” chorus, and sounds like something a mad professor on pills might have come up with in the small hours on BBC2.

‘Edward’ is another highlight, with that olde world accent again. Its inverted nursery rhyme feel reflects that of the track before it, but in a much more puritanistic way: “What did you kill your dear little brother for? Oh my boy, come now, tell it unto me”. It’s pretty shivering stuff, full of imagery and old English aesthetic.

And so it continues. I could rave on about this album for another hour, but there’s no need. Sol Invictus are one of those bands that must be heard by any genuine fan of music, in all its dark and evocative guises. As noted, many of you will have heard them through the good offices of Agalloch’s cover. You should invest immediately in hearing the genuine article.

To admirers of the Neo Folk scene, this is mandatory. Better than recent efforts from new label mates Hekate, more direct and concise than recent Current 93 (though it harks strongly to ‘Earth Covers Earth’), and channeling the best of the likes of Michael Cashmore, Julian Cope and even Raison D’Etre in places, it’ll prove a valuable addition to that end of your cd rack.

Hoary, old, spiritual, pagan, strange and eccentrically English. Forget the politics - as music, this is blissfully dark, heady stuff.


Sol Invictus - The bad luck bird "7"  


While anxiously anticipating the next full length release “The Cruelest Month” by neo-folk legends Sol Invictus, what better way to wait it out than listening to a couple of tracks from that album. “The Bad Luck Bird” is available from Auerbach/Prophecy in an edition of 500 seven inch vinyls, the first such from Sol Invictus since the “Eve” PD-single off “Hill Of Crosses”. Both tracks are highly orchestrated songs, and mark a solid return to old form for Sol Invictus. With grandeur aplenty across the board, this release comes replete with all the neo-folk markings we’ve come to expect from Sol Invictus, but were to some extent denied on “The Devil’s Steed” (2005). “The Bad Luck Bird” is an absolutely impeccable song worthy of untold praise, “Stella Maris” is more subdued and placid, but nevertheless brimming with effortless beauty. The two moods compliment each other perfectly. After the somewhat disappointing Orchestra Noir release "What If" a ways back, this was indeed a pleasant surprise. That said, it’s more or less impossible to find fault anywhere in this release, but I would perhaps like to point out that the label might have downplayed the cover artwork a little as it seems a little uninspired as opposed to the content of the record itself. Simply put, if you are a fan of the by now classic output of Sol Invictus in any way this single truly is a must-buy. And… if the album itself turns out to be of similar quality, then surely we have a new “The Blade” on our hands. I know I’m excited!

Review by Cthulberg for K A L I G L I M M E R

I have to admit than, while I am a fan of Sol Invictus (and generally, of Tony Wakeford’s works – I still think “La Croix” is one of the most excelent albums ever!), I am far from being a completionist of his work. But somehow, I got really curious about this “The Bad Luck Bird” single, which seems to work well as a great preview of what the next full-lenght will be. When you start listening to the single, you will have no doubt that this is Sol Invictus – you’ll get the same feeling as ever, and that’s not bad. But you’ll also evidently something else… Sol Invictus is changing, evolving. When you listen to the B-side, you’ll get a quite different track, but also the proof that Sol Invictus is changing – and, in my oppinion, to better. My first public reaction after listening to the single (both sides, three times in a row), was something like “it’s a fact: I allways prefer B-sides”. While “The Bad Luck Bird” is a powerful (maybe a little overcrowded) track, with strong percussion and (surprisingly?) flute and cello as lead instruments, Stella Maris is a track that couldn’t stop me of thinking about The Wicker Man’s soundtrack – which is an awesome reference. You might want to wait a little for “The Cruellest Month” (the upcoming full-length), but I think that if you can’t just wait and end up grabbing this 7”… You won’t regret it. (BTW, I just read from Prophecy that the single is sold out there. The link from above gives you a retailer that still ships it.)

Orchestra Noir - What If....


"What if ..?" - A question that can probably every mood from time to time in daydreaming imperious temper in a happier world turns and drift better decisions. Which the struggle with the here and now reinforced, and yet the possibility of a better life makes people aware. Of course you can turn this thought game too, and wonder what it would be if everything would get worse, or at the end even without the subjunctive: Whether anyway, everything is much bleaker than it appears. If our parents have brought up with a lie when we are at the mercy of an unpredictable power delivery, whether it be political, economic, or metaphysical. If our hopes are like a broken glass to carved toys.

Tony Wakeford, well known as head of the folk band Sol Invictus, is someone who has his doubts have always been in the form of such mind games gives expression. The darkest moments in the figures, designs, preferring the isolation of their own frightening world of Nirvana. The flip side of the English garden idyll visible and metaphysical explanations of existence but considered to be important, it is also committed to the logic of the doubt."England is funny, but sometimes she scares me" it said on its penultimate solo album, "In God we trust, but not too much" earlier in Sol.The theme of doubt and ambivalent attitude to his English background, he now devotes his latest work again, and that project could be better to own than that which already carries the ink in the name - ORCHESTRA NOIR. For beginners, the black orchestra was presented: Initially raised more completely in French as "L'Orchestre Noir" from the baptism of the group Wakeford vehicle for his interests beyond post-punk and folk, for his forays into the world of orchestral chamber music. Since the mid-90s, he animated the staff very changeable ensemble now again at irregular intervals, bringing concept albums out on subjects as varied as the Sherlock Holmes actor Jeremy Brett or the memory of the victims of World War II. Recordings spanning a range of elegiac mood to dramatic - is common to all the intended close to classical orchestral film music.

The latest album of the Orchestra Noir calls an associative memory in England, which remains straight between the Victorian Fin de Siècle euphoria and modern, between regressive defensive and nervous anticipation of the 20th has just begun Century. This refers to the time of King Edward VII, although only in small textual references ("What if God does not safe the king") then it refers to Tony but already in a recent interview. As you can imagine with such an association, I would describe "dusty" most like the metaphor, would this in the current language is not too much decay to a picture of something musty and smelly, for something in the worst sense eternal yesterday - come over , boring, and rightly forgotten. And although the music of the Orchestra Noir is nothing about it, fits the idea of a more as a fine layer of dust but well shaded to the mood of London back alleys and forgotten mansions and nocturnal landscapes, which gives Tony's ensemble in word and sound to life: the proverbial house on the hill to look mysterious from a distance, an impressive panoramic bidder on a distorted world, if one has reached its height for now. Curious children playing at night on a deserted area and scarecrows are similar. The legendary London madhouse Bedlam, a symbol of a narrow-minded attitude towards everything foreign, and named as in macabre irony after the birth of the Christian Saviour. And despite all of these classic themes you get the feeling something "contemporary" to hear, not least through the song "Spitfire" which draws a line to current British war policy.

I'm no expert in classical music, was the use of such quotations in sub-cultures compared to most skeptical and think a term such as neoclassical economics still more for the expression of a vain dream to sell a U for E. Not a good assumption to say anything too detailed critical of the interplay of piano, strings, oboe and other wind instruments. The gut feeling of the laymen, however, seen enough of how well the strong reduction of synthetic sound effects this time, as Wakeford simple song, its severity, the melodies in "Bedlam," "Spitfire" or the title track still makes touching. Friends of his works are rather rough estimate places especially where the sounds temporarily suspend its simple beauty and offer the chaos, a well designed gateway. The backing vocals like the soprano them maybe a little too "heavenly" to be. Others are perhaps nostalgically at these points at the memory of the time when Sally Doherty and Eric Roger belonged to the Orchestra. Tony's current companion share their work but with dignity, deserve special mention mE Mark Beigent on the oboe, Richard Moult (including the United Bible Studies, also responsible for the attractive artwork and the label may be somewhat premature to be related to CURRENT 93 related) on the piano and the drummer Reeve Malka alias M, which beat "Circus" even gives something exhilarating, even before the song ends very thoughtful.

That pessimism is not always courageous and honest need and with good will can degenerate into kitsch and vain Oberlehrerattitüde acid is well known. With his black orchestra Tony stumbles but in none of these cases. As a spirit that denies, he appears here in all seriousness rather than mischievous Mephisto - perhaps because he makes his experiment in nihilism in the form of conservative issues, rather than in platitudes. Maybe because Tony no means only preaches to the already converted, because quite so serene and hopeless a public can not be that knows how to inspire for such touching sounds. (U.S.)

BLACK Onlinemagazin

Tony Wakeford - Into the woods 


'The Woods' works as an introduction. It is already very detailed: the female voices are masked by Tony's main one, the instrumentation is rich and thick, yet it appears veiled by the voice. It recites "Into the woods" twice and then is gone. 'A saint in Roseland' follows up, hunting voices that appear and disappear over a looping base, where fleeting percussion and flickering noises enter and depart. The overall feeling is one of movement and continuity. Clear notes of the keyboard, an up-front wind melody and beating percussion break it, to end. By this song, Tony defines his approach to folk. For there is no doubt that 'Into the woods' comes out as folk. Yet it would be ridiculous to say that Wakeford's baggage is that of a traditional folk lover. His continuous experimentation throughout different projects and his relationship with so many artists have given Tony the possibility of creating a different approach to folk. It is haunting, passionate yet detached, repetitive yet elaborate. It is never classical or traditional, yet it has evolved from both. It is easy to listen to, yet it creates disturbing feelings. It is not happy, light or deliberately sybarite in its instrumentation. It is doesn't hide from crudeness when needed, yet manages to be thriving with arrangements, overlapping melodies and perfectly fitting digital instrumentation. You have heard similar if you have listened to any of Wakeford's projects or his plentiful collaborators own releases (think Sol Invictus, The Wardrobe, Many Durtro projects, etc), yet the most interesting part of this type of folk is that, since each artist carries their own abundant baggage, it always differs from the others.

Only two phrases are the leit motiv for 'Lightning strikes'. It is an atmospheric, oriental flirting song full of chimes, falling notes and a bountiful liquid feeling. It comes almost as a chant or an interior self-prayer. There is an underlining melody that comes softly into the spotlight at the ending of the song, which slowly fades away. 'In the woods', is the next song, with a dreamy and delicate flute opening, accompanied by various percussion that sound almost like water dropping from a leaf in a dusk light filled forest. The sounds vary, including many organic noises that can transport the listener into a peaceful dwelling full of nature images. Guitar arpeggios, instrumental vocals, flute and percussion curl around a feathery bass. 'Into the woods' is the natural evolution: almost without breaking the pace, a much more organized instrumentation grows into a repetitive folk song, constructed over a regular beat that carries most of the instruments over which the voice recites. The chorus gathers melody, includes the female voice and is abundant with details. It creates a powerful contrast without being disruptive. There is also a moment for a flute solo, with its own compasses, and a wild spirited melody.

A short sampler opens 'A small town in Germany' where the guitar interrupts and finally constructs a melody. The percussion blends in, as of its own accord, and further instruments follow. It seems almost as if each melody line was constructed on its own, and just happens to fall into place in a winding, silvery thread. The voice is again masculine, reciting and coarse. It fades into 'Don the road slowly', with extremely interesting lyrics, which can remind ofSieben's style of sarcastic and modernized troubadour -esque compositions. It is mostly reciting over loops, percussion, and a responding flute line. The drum-work is primitive and fits perfectly into the updated-traditional sensation of the composition.

A 'Punch and Judy' phrase opens 'The London hanged'. Created as a traditional vocal folk song, it is, nonetheless, ironical in its lyrics and surrounded by an ominous atmospheric background that creeps up through the song. At the same time it is menacing and familiar. 'The hangman's son' is stranger in appearance, yet both songs commute in a twisted and complex clash of apparently compliant familiarity with the shadowy side of itself. It creates a twirling combination of violin, chord and digital sounds that spiral around the reciting voice and the beating percussion strike.

'Take the steps' is more subtle and delicate. The flute opens with a shimmering melody full of longing and ingenuity. The voice is clearer, more emotive, constructed over the repetition of the same sentence, towards a melancholic desperation. As a counterpoint to the serenity and structure of 'Take the steps', 'The devil wen a' travelling', has diverse high-pitched notes, each of the melodies again seem to dissipate at will, entering, leaving and swaying. It has a stronger emphasis on repetition and percussion, while the background is much stronger and somber. The voice returns to the front line of the composition for a final, dismal, phrase. 'If you go down the...' returns to 'Into the woods' without the atmospheric introduction, underlining the strong composition line, to finish the ballad where myths, nature, past and reality hold hands in a small treasure-box composition by Tony Wakeford.

Two years after the release of The Devil’s Steed Tony Wakeford is back with a new album. Strictly spoken a solo album but Caroline Jago, Andrew King and Renee Rosen contributed as well, so with some will you could also label it is a new Sol Invictus album if you like. Guest contributions are featured on Into the Woods with the flute play of Guy Harris from Orchestra Noir and vocal contributions of Kris Force of Amber Asylum too. 

Into the Woods is a neofolk album with a strong 70’s psychedelic and prog feel. With this Tony Wakeford in a way looks back to the records from his youth. To the England of the 60’s and 70’s where pockets of woodland hold out against the encroaching suburbs. A dark England too, with out-of-work hangmen, dubious priests and maiden institutes. The result is dark and beautiful, at times intoxicating and dark such as in ‘The Woods’, ‘The Hangman’s Son’ or ‘The Devil Went a Travelling’ and overall very much achieved. 

The lyrics deal with the England that now is gone, the traditional rural towns, the rituals of the people and the surrounding nature and it’s dark sides. Sometimes the experiment in the music reminds a bit of the Wormwood album that Tony Wakeford made in 2003 together with Matt Howden. Into the Woods takes some time to adjust to yet as an album is definitely worth it. 

In the sound you’ll clearly hear the hand of Wakeford, but also the mastering of good old Denis Blackham seems recognizable. Sometimes you will hear hints to a traditional folksong such as in ‘The London Hanged’. The songs however mostly have a neofolk touch a la Sol Invictus, like ‘A Small Town in Germany’ or ‘Down The Road Slowly’, but also a much more versatile psychedelic 70’s fusion touch. With this the album is not only a typical British album because of the theme but also because of the music which is on it. I must say this is the best solowork of Tony Wakeford so far. The splendid cover artwork is from the hand of painter and musician Richard Moult, of whom also a review is placed on this site.

 Tony Wakeford - Not all of me will die


Tony Wakeford is an artist who needs no real further introduction. When simply evoking his involvement in legendary bands like Death In June, Current 93, Nurse With Wound and of course his very own brainchild Sol Invictus this musician simply deserves his rank of cult musician from the neo-folk and industrial scene. Tony Wakeford has also released several albums under his own name and with this "Not All Of Me Will Die". This new opus commemorates the life and work of the Polish-Ukrainian Jewish poetess Zuzanna Ginczanka, who was executed by the Gestapo in Kraków in 1944. The lyrics have been taken from the work of Ginczanka adding a very sensitive touch to the work of Wakeford. Musical wise Tony Wakeford moves in between soundtrack compositions and his beloved neo-folk influences. The music and the spoken vocals by Susan Matthews give an extra visual strength to the entity. It's very poignant while the use of several classical instruments like violin, flute or yet clarinet reinforces the sensibility of the songs. Tony Wakeford invited a huge number of contributors to his work like members of Orchestra Noir, Zunroyz and Sol Invictus. "Not All Of Me Will Die" is one more accomplishment in the long career of Wakeford who always finds new inspiration and more and more sensibility in his releases! The fans of the musician will be satisfied!

Heathen Harvest review:

There are many layers, emotions and effort On the fourth solo album of Sol Invictus' Tony Wakeford. Conceived from the powerful words of Zuzanna Ginczanka, a Kiev born, Jewish poet who was executed by the Nazis and almost forgotten completely until years later. A powerful statement it is – Non omnis moriar – Not all of me will die, from anyone who is headed to where so many have gone, never to return. Wakeford knows this, and through this album, released by the Israeli Eastern Front, he brings her back to a bright light. Her works handed with a delicate, yet powerful hands. "Not all of me will die " is a powerful statement through a powerful album; and realized with the help of many band members who were using various instruments, including several Violins, Flute, Clarinet, Keyboard, guitars and more, it was not an easy feat either. The two main, and titled, tracks are "Non omnis moriar" and "Fulness of August", both created from the text of Ginczanka and the singing and music of Wakeford and the rest of the players. Even with the marching percussion that opens the album, Wakeford's work is intimate and sensitive, and as we go deeper into "Non Omnis Moriar", the many layers of musical instruments seem to pay attention to each other, forming a melancholic and full environment. The text will come later on. I was trying to pick a line for a quotation, but Ginczanka knew better than that. The entire text is a powerful buildup of words, senses and emotions, and the only line I can mention without ruining the poem is the line that was added elsewhere on the great looking insert sleeve – telling the reader that on one black day, a Cracow morning, they led her out and shot her dead. Wakeford's echoing callings, reminding over and over that not all of her has died, are a reminder that she was correct. "Non Omnis Moriar" is a haunting song, lasting over twenty minutes of hypnotizing loops and musical developments. When it gathers more strength, it is done with the help of the drums, which pushes forward the part nostalgic, part romantic opus. Track number two might be thought of as an intermission at first, but musically you can find many fabulous events within it, such as oriental developments inside soft electronic and soft rhythmic passages. Even the more powerful, metallic whips lashes are blending evenly with the rest of the music, making this nameless track a wonderful one. "Fullness of August" is a natural progression from the previous track. Singing another marvelous poem, Wakeford is softly gliding through tiny bells and dreamy music which almost brings to life some of the scenery that Ginczanka describes with her words. Track number four is taking a slightly different route. The dominant violins are making it much more edgy and dramatic, blending perfectly with the voices of Suzan Mathews and Maria Vellanz , chanting over and over the title of the album. It seems that from here forward, Wakeford is shedding different light over the places we were in at the beginning of the album. If the beginning was warm and sensitive, the music is slowly getting more haunting and even threatening. Declaring that not all of me will die from the safety of my home is one thing; Declaring it while marching on to death is something different completely. "Not all of me will die" is a powerful album with powerful roots and a once dying stem that survived against all odds. I imagine most of those who are into this musical genre to know Tony Wakeford and his work, past or present, and "Not All of me will Die" is another great step to take with him. A memorable step as well.


Active for twenty years now under his main moniker Sol Invictus, Tony Wakeford during this time released also some albums with his name. NOT ALL OF ME WILL DIE is his fourth and it has been released two years after "In the woods" by the Israeli label The Eastern Front. Based on the life and work of the Polish-Ukrainian Jewish poetess Zuzanna Ginczanka, who was executed by the Gestapo in Kraków in 1944, the album contains six tracks which lyrics are based on her writings. Joined by guest musicians and vocalists, including avant-garde composer Susan Matthews and members of Orchestra Noir, Zunroyz and Sol Invictus, Wakeford opens the album with a twenty two minutes opus "Non Omnias Moriar" where acoustic guitars, percussions, oboe, strings and vocals perform a folkish experimental suites full of pathos. When vocals join in after eleven minutes the track already reached its top but Wakeford is able to add some magic to it. The second track has a bit of jazzy influence with that swing bass line but the other instruments play a mix of psychedelic improvisation where noises, effects and strings lead the dance. "Fullness Of August" is the third track and the second to have a proper title (other have only their track list position number) and it sounds like a slow joyful ballad which melodically remembered me Killing Joke of the "Brighter than a thousands suns" period. Here dulcimer, treated guitars and oboe create a sort of wavering sound that cradle the listener. Tracks number four is a dramatic instrumental strings based tune while on fifth guitars, oboe and vocal samples develop the sound of the previous one. The sixth and final track mix tribal percussions, treated guitar sounds (reverbs and reversed sounds are used) closing with a touch of dreaming atmosphere a good album.

Review by: Maurizio Pustianaz

 The Triple Tree - Ghosts


From Chain D.L.K.: (by Maurizio Pustianaz)

Long time collaborators Tony Wakeford and Andrew King with GHOSTS are proposing something slightly different from the Sol Invictus guitar driven ballads scheme. Helped out by Kris Force (Violin, Voice), Renee Rosen (Violin), Guy Harries (Voice, Flute, Melodica), Autumn Grieve (Voice), M (Sounds, Electronics, Vibraphone, Marimba) and John Murphy (Drums) the duo did an album inspired by M.R. James writings (he is best remembered for his ghost stories in the classic 19th century Yuletide vein, which are widely regarded as among the finest in English literature). Mixing literature elements, folk music and dark atmospheric semi-experimental solutions (see the creepy effect on "Casting the rune" where effected guitars duet with percussions and voices or the beautiful "The ash tree" where a cyclic melodic noise is the background to crossing spoken word vocals, female chants and military drumming) the combo succeed into refreshing the new-folk genre exploring new fields but keeping always as a reference point their English roots. Ballads and charming dark songs based on treated sounds/samples (as "Mr Mothersole" ) make of GHOSTS a great album that sounds balanced and always interesting (great choice to dare a little and using the ballad structure only one few tracks). (4.5/5)

From Blow Up: (by Paolo Bertoni)

  Non poteva che titolarsi “Ghosts” un album dedicato a Montague Rhodes James e ai suoi celebri scritti. Interpreti come Tony Wakeford e Andrew King - frequente e pregiata anche la presenza della voce di Autumn Grieve - uniti nella sigla The Triple Tree hanno credenziali non meno che ottime per rievocare i fantastici racconti dello scrittore inglese e nulla hanno lasciato di intentato tanto da fingersi personaggi d’epoca nelle foto del digipack. Un briciolo di humour in un disco che in realtà tiene fede magistralmente ai suoi assunti, attraverso un susseguirsi di brani accompagnati senza soste dalla nebbia, puntualmente spettrali, conchiusi in un alone traversato da soprannaturali creature che vi soggiornano inquiete. Particolarmente densi di cimiteriali suggestioni, anche con l’ausilio di estratti dallo stesso James, sono frangenti quali Mrs. Mothersole, Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come To You, The Ash Tree, There Was A Man Dwelt By A Churchyard, Casting The Runes, ad alternarsi con splendidi pezzi di tenebrosa essenzialità folk che rammentano istantaneamente quelle narrazioni spesso ambientate in minuscoli villaggi britannici, da Ghosts - Prologue, col violino di Kris Force di Amber Asylum, Black Crusade, severissima, la grandiosa The Stalls, cantata da King, con Three Crowns che è l’episodio più prossimo a Sol Invictus e superbi duetti che la Grieve ingaggia con Tony in The Malice Of Inanimate Objects ed Andrew in The Ghosts Of England. (8)

From Darkroom: (by Michele Viali)

  Presentato ufficialmente dalla Cold Spring nella compilation "John Barleycorn Reborn", uscita lo scorso anno, il progetto The Triple Tree è una collaborazione tra Tony Wakeford (per chi non lo ricordasse, già fondatore di Death In June e Sol Invictus, nonché di una sterminata lista di altri progetti) ed Andrew King, esperto studioso di musica tradizionale britannica; a loro si affiancano alcuni importanti collaboratori, su tutti John Murphy alle percussioni e Renee Rosen al violino. L'album è un omaggio al grande autore inglese Montague Rhode James, vissuto tra la seconda metà dell'800 e i primi del '900, reso celebre dai suoi racconti di fantasmi (di qui il titolo "Ghosts", dato al lavoro), ma anche grande esperto di storia medievale. I testi dei brani sono estratti dall'opera del narratore britannico, ma vengono spesso integrati dalle liriche di Wakeford e, in un solo caso ("Black Crusade"), da quelle di King. La musica, redatta per la quasi totalità dal creatore di Sol Invictus, è spesso un mezzo che commenta e accompagna i testi, facendo leva soprattutto su motivi folk sperimentali e, talvolta, su reminiscenze industrial-ambientali, collegando il risultato finale soprattutto all'opera di King (in particolare all'album "The Amfortas Wound"). La strumentazione utilizzata è assai vasta: dai classici basso, chitarra acustica, tastiere, flauto e violino, fino a misteriose percussioni, fischietti, cornamuse, field recordings ed ulteriori ritrovati elettronici; il tutto è segnato ovviamente dalle voci recitanti, con ampia prevalenza del tono stentoreo di King, sebbene non vada trascurato l'apporto della vocalist Autumn Grieve, che riesce a dare un colore soave a diversi pezzi. L'unico brano fortemente legato al vecchio stile di Wakeford, e forse il più accattivante di tutti, è "Three Crowns", già apparso nella compilation "John Barleycorn Reborn" e memore dell'esperienza dei Sol Invictus. Oltremodo impegnativo, "Ghosts" è un album di non facile ascolto, dato che la musica è in gran parte finalizzata a creare un substrato d'atmosfera divisa tra misteriose oscurità e ambientazioni antiche; di conseguenza è pressoché fondamentale seguire le parole dal libretto per lasciarsi trascinare nel vortice dei suoni. Il connubio testi-musica riesce a tratti alquanto bene, ma il lavoro nel complesso rimane poco immediato, ed alcune soluzioni sonore rischiano di fiaccare l'ascoltatore. Era lecito aspettarsi qualcosa di più da questi due importanti autori.

From Rock-A-Rolla: (by John S)

  Sol Invictus' Anthony Wakeford & Andrew King, together with a host of contributors including John Murphy of Death In June / SPK, Kris Force of Amber Asylum and 'ethereal folk singer' Autumn Grieve, pay homage to supernatural fiction writer M. R. James through the medium of medieval folk, neofolk and similar stylings. While fans of any of those artists will find plenty here to keep them intrigued, Ghosts may not be instantly appealing to ears not predisposed to such idiosyncrasies, and as a musical exploration of the ghost-themed books by a late 19th / early 20th century writer, it occupies a very niche musical sphere, even by folk standards. Very much an acquired taste.

From Alternativmusik: (by Marius Meyer)

   Die beiden verstehen sich gut. Das haben schon diverse gemeinsame Live-Auftritte in der Vergangenheit, wobei die Bühnendarbietung von Sol Invictus stark von der Unterstützung von Andrew King profitiert hat. Aus der gemeinsamen Arbeit von Tony Wakeford und Matt Howden ist neben der gemeinsamen Bühnenpräsenz nun unter dem Namen The Triple Tree auch ein gemeinsames Album entstanden, das als Konzept-Album dem britischen Dichter Montague Rhodes James gewidmet ist, also einem der ganz großen britischen Autor von Gruselgeschichten. Dementsprechend heißt das Album auch Ghosts und verbreitet eine sehr schaurige Atmosphäre.

  Um den Eindruck einer so genannten „Supergroup“ zu untermauern, kann man dazu noch erwähnen, dass neben den Protagonisten auch noch Musiker wie Renee Rosen (Sol Invictus), Kris Force (Amber Asylum) und John Murphy (SPK, Death In June) mit an der Entstehung dieses Werks beteiligt waren. Ein derartiges Namedropping beinhaltet zwar noch keine Aussage über die Qualität der Stücke, legt die Messlatte aber relativ hoch. Umso schöner, dass die Gruppe den Erwartungen gerecht werden kann und dabei ein unerwartetes Album auf die Beine gestellt hat. Mit dem bei den Namen wohl zu erwartenden Neofolk hat das Album nur insofern zu tun, dass es sehr mittelalterlich inspiriert ist, die Klänge an sich stellen aber eher thematisch orientierte Klanglandschaften dar.

  Das Konzept ist dabei eindeutig, musikalische Gruselgeschichten zu entwerfen, orientiert an Montague Rhodes James. Diese bestehen aus mittelalterlichen Klängen, die Titel für Titel Szenarien aus einer mittelalterlichen Welt entwerfen. Dies geschieht in einer Art und Weise, wie man sich das typische mittelalterliche Leben vorzustellen hat, allerdings so, dass dabei gruselige Szenen entstehen, die das Unheimliche charakterisieren. Die Instrumente sind dabei vielseitig: Violinen, Flöten, Marimba, elektronische Einsprengsel, Vibraphon und andere kommen zum Einsatz, dazu treten noch einige so genannte „Field recordings“, die der Authentizität sehr dienlich sind. Die Stimmen werden dabei gerade bei Andrew King in sehr erzählender Art und Weise eingesetzt (manchmal sogar komplett auf Stimme beschränkt), Tony Wakeford hingegen ist sowohl als Erzähler zu hören als auch mit einem an mittelalterliche Barden erinnernden Gesang. Dazu treten weibliche Gaststimmen, die eine schaurige Eingängigkeit bewirken.

  Während es mit großen Schritten auf den Jahresabschluss zugeht, haben Tony Wakeford und Andrew King unter dem Namen The Triple Tree mit Ghosts noch ein Album geschaffen, das so nicht zu erwarten war, dadurch aber umso mehr erfreut. Es zeigt, dass auch die alteingesessenen, etablierten Musiker des Genres noch für Überraschungen gut sind und sich längst nicht freiwillig zum alten Eisen zählen lassen. Abgerundet wird die Veröffentlichung durch das schöne Artwork im DigiPak und das Booklet, das auf der einen Seite die Gruselatmosphäre mit seinen vielen Bildern gut untermauern kann, auf der anderen Seite aber auch sowohl in den Bildern als auch in den Bild-Unterschriften ein gesundes Maß an Selbstironie zeigt. So begegnen bei den Bildern zum Beispiel Dr. Wakeford, The Rev. King und Count Ferrero alias „Mad Dog“ Murphy. Kurzum: Eine wirklich gute Idee auf sehr ansprechende Weise umgesetzt.

From Dagheisha: (by Roberto Michieletto)

  I fantasmi a cui fa riferimento il titolo del disco sono quelli che popolavano i racconti di Montague Rhodes James, scrittore britannico attivo tra la fine del ‘800 e l’inizio del ‘900, celebre per le sue narrazioni dove predominavano le presenze non tangibili, in quanto prive di materialità corporea, oltre che noto per gli studi sul Nuovo Testamento e rinomato medievalista. Per celebrare e rendere omaggio alla figura di MR James ha preso forma una nuova entità sonora, questa assolutamente concreta, che risponde al nome di The Triple Tree e che ha quali attori principali due “vecchi marpioni” provenienti dalla Terra d’Albione, ovvero Tony Wakeford (Death In June e Sol Invictus) e Andrew King (Sol Invictus e attivo da solista). Al fine di dare maggiore completezza e solidità al lavoro, che per la maggior parte trae ispirazione proprio dalle storie di MR James, hanno scelto di farsi supportare da altri personaggi di sicuro affidamento come Kris Force, Autumn Grieve, Guy Harries e John Murphy. Il disco si muove su diversi piani musicali, che hanno quale comune denominatore extra letterario la sovrapposizione e l’alternanza delle vocals, che intercalano con opportune scelte il cantato maschile e femminile oppure li abbinano con estrema cura, mettendo in essere quel processo di evocazione atmosferica e trasposizione dei testi di James con indubbia ispirazione e sentita partecipazione. La stessa che ha animato la scrittura delle composizioni, dal momento che il mescolarsi di strumenti e suoni ha portato alla definizione di trame espressive che sanno essere folk (psichedeliche, dark o neo), avantgarde, industriali (nell’accezione storica), drone minimaliste, medievali, neoclassiche e ritualistiche, a seconda delle poetiche da assecondare e delle sinistre ambientazioni da ricostruire. Per nulla scontato e molto ben dettagliato. Più che convincente.

From Mentenebre: (by Pedro Ortega)

  IEste árbol triple recoge bajo sus paraguas la obra conjunta de dos músicos de sobra ya conocidos por los amantes de la escena Neofolk: Tony Wakeford y Andrew King. Los dos han unido sus fuerzas para dar a luz un complejo trabajo el cual pasamos a diseccionar.

  Si recordáis la última reseña de Orchestra Noir, uno de los diversos grupos encabezados por Tony Wakeford, publicada aquí en Mentenebre, advertimos que tenía una referencia literaria muy clara: las aventuras de Sherlock Holmes. Pues bien, parece que en esta estela literaria se mantiene la producción musical de Wakeford. Para esta ocasión Wakeford y King han rescatado la obra de MR James (1862-1936), famoso escritor británico centrado en los relatos de fantasmas. De ahí que hayan puesto por título "Ghosts" a esta primera referencia.

  Una vez la temática aclarada pasemos a la música. Y en ella nos debemos detener en una artista de referencia invitada para la ocasión, se trata de Kris Force, de aquel memorable grupo Amber Asylum tan celebrado a finales de los ‘90, y que contribuye con su voz y con su violín en dos de los temas. También reseñable es la participación de John Murphy, incansable compañero de viaje de Douglas P., que no ha dudado en colaborar en esta ocasión con su viejo amigo Wakeford. Además de ellos también han contado con un buen número de músicos de los que no tengo referencia, pero que por lo que veremos a continuación pueden proceder algunos de la música contemporánea.

  Sí, el CD es muy complejo en lo tocante a estructura musical pues nos podemos encontrar con piezas como 'There was a Man Dwelt by a Churchyard' sin melodía, repleta de frases inquietantes que se repiten en eco, amén de otros sonidos no cadentes, que podría englobarse en la línea de deconstrucción musical propia de la música contemporánea, o con piezas claramente Neofolk como 'Black Crusade' o 'The Stalls', creadas a la medida de nuestro trovador favorito Andrew King, y que son a mi criterio las piezas más destacables del CD. También nos encontramos concesiones al heavenly voices en 'Ghosts – Prologue' o 'The Malice of Inanimate Objects'.

  La sensación que saco de la escucha de este álbum es un poco de cierto desasosiego, de falta de coherencia, aunque si lo que quieren transmitir es la inquietud que te produce la visión de un fantasma puede decirse que hasta casi lo consiguen. Bromas aparte, creo que se combinan demasiadas influencias de muy diversa raíz en una misma obra y que por tanto el resultado es un tanto desajustado y ecléctico. No me entusiasmó demasiado el CD dedicado a Sherlock Holmes y tampoco éste dedicado a MR James, pero al menos tenemos una referencia literaria interesante. Puede que de su lectura saquemos mayores placeres.

From Judas Kiss(by Simon Collins)

  Montague Rhodes James (1862-1936), better known as MR James, is widely regarded as the finest English writer of ghost stories, and a volume of his collected works occupies a permanent place on my bedside table, along with HP Lovecraft and the Sherlock Holmes stories, as ideal night-time reading material for when I'm too tired and/or drunk to contemplate anything more intellectually taxing. So I was very intrigued to hear of plans to release an album based on MR James’ stories, and the inclusion of one track, ‘Three Crowns’, on last year’s John Barleycorn Reborn folk compilation, really whetted my appetite. And finally, after some delays involving artwork and printing, Ghosts is here. 

  The Triple Tree is a duo comprising Tony Wakeford and Andrew King. Tony Wakeford should need little introduction to most Judas Kiss readers, being one of the founding fathers of the neo-folk genre, firstly as a member of the original line-up of Death In June and, from 1987 onwards, with his own band, Sol Invictus. Andrew King is also now a member of Sol Invictus, as well as having released several albums of traditional English folk songs and industrial/folk crossovers, both as a solo artist and with other musicians, including members of Knifeladder, the American apocalyptic folk band Changes, and experimental electronics band Brown Sierra. For the creation of Ghosts, the first Triple Tree album, Andrew and Tony have assembled an impressive array of collaborators, many of them recruited from the ranks of various other projects with which they are involved, including singer and violinist Kris Force of Amber Asylum and Grey Force Wakeford, drummer and percussionist John Murphy of Knifeladder and a plethora of other bands, singer Mercy Liao, and several members of Sol Invictus and/or Orchestra Noir, namely Guy Harries, who sings and plays flute and melodica, Reeve Malka, who contributes vibraphone, marimba, keyboards and electronics, singer Autumn Grieve and violinist Renée Rosen. 

  Most of the songs on Ghosts feature music by Tony Wakeford, although Andrew King wrote two songs and collaborated with Tony on several others. Tony Wakeford also wrote lyrics for five of the album’s 13 tracks, Andrew King wrote the lyrics of ‘Black Crusade’ and Autumn Grieve wrote the lyrics of ‘Mrs Mothersole’. All the other songs use texts taken directly from stories by MR James, and where the song title differs from the title of the story it relates to, the title of the story is given in brackets, so that the uninitiated and curious can go to the source material to gain a better understanding of these songs. All but three of the songs relate to specific MR James stories, the exceptions being ‘Ghosts – Prologue’, ‘The Malice Of Inanimate Objects’ and ‘The Ghosts Of England’.

  ‘Ghosts – Prologue’ opens the album, with field recordings of bird-song, bowed double bass and violin providing a lush yet sombre backing for Kris Force’s soprano vocals. ‘Three Crowns’ is based on the story ‘A Warning To The Curious’, and it opens with multi-tracked a cappella vocals from Andrew King, with an arrangement based on the folk balllad ‘Dives And Lazurus’. This is the only piece of traditional folk music on the album, which in fact tends much more towards neo-classical, although the blend of folk and classical music and instrumentation is reminiscent of mid-period Sol Invictus albums such as In A Garden Green, In The Rain and The Blade. ‘Three Crowns’ makes good use of both Andrew King’s and Tony Wakeford’s vocals, with a hypnotically looped keyboard phrase and ambient background atmospherics. 

  ‘The Stalls’, based on ‘The Stalls Of Barchester Cathedral’, is very much a showcase for Andrew King, dominated as it is by his harmonium playing, jingle bells and vocals, which are again multi-tracked. It has the same kind of heavy droning, medieval sound as his 2003 album The Amfortas Wound, and the vocal melody sounds like a traditional folk tune, but was in fact composed by Andrew (who, of course, being an acknowledged authority on English folk music, is in a good position to produce a convincing pastiche). 

  ‘The Ash-Tree’ is perhaps the most genuinely spooky and unnerving track on Ghosts, with the vocals from Andrew King consisting entirely of three obsessively repeated biblical verses. Although John Murphy is only credited with drums and percussion, I wonder if I can discern his hand in the brooding industrial ambient of this track, since the looped samples, snare drum rolls and fragmented chime melodies seem very much in the style of John’s solo project Shining Vril, or occult ambient projects such as Ain Soph and Zero Kama. After the baleful, threatening atmosphere of ‘The Ash-Tree’, ‘The Malice Of Inanimate Objects’ seems almost lightweight, with cymbals, flute, melodica and vibraphone recalling the jazz and swing influences evident in some more recent Sol Invictus albums. 

  ‘There Was A Man Dwelt By A Churchyard’ offers a brief but delightfully horrific glimpse of supernatural revenge, evoked by Mercy Liao’s insistent, obsessive vocals. This actually reminded me of the classic album An Electric Storm by The White Noise, which I've always regarded as one of the creepiest pieces of music ever made. I won’t spoil the suspense by explaining what happens in this song or the story it’s based on, though I think of all the songs on Ghosts, it’s the one which makes least sense if you’re not familiar with the source material. 

  ‘Lost Hearts’, though, makes perfect sense if you just listen to the words. This is virtually a spoken-word piece, recited by Andrew King, and it features the longest verbatim extract from MR James to be used on Ghosts, a letter of confession which essentially summarises the entire narrative of the story, a grim little tale of black magic, child sacrifice and cannibalism. 

  ‘Black Crusade’, like ‘The Stalls’, is structured around Andrew King’s harmonium and vocals, with a lugubrious funeral drum underpinning its sinister, ritualistic invocation. It’s based on the story ‘Count Magnus’, which is one of my favourite MR James stories, and which, since it concerns the Satanic shenanigans of a decadent Swedish aristocrat, is heartily recommended to all black metal fans. 

  ‘Casting The Runes’ is, relatively speaking, a disappointment. The original story features a character called Karswell, who’s clearly based on Aleister Crowley (or at least on Crowley’s sensationalised public image), and it served as the basis for the 1957 film Night Of The Demon, which is easily one of the best British horror films ever made. Oh, and it’s got runes in it. All in all, a very promising piece of source material, but The Triple Tree’s treatment of it is very oblique, using only a brief spoken phrase as the prelude to a densely textured ensemble piece of melodica, drums, ambient loops and layers of whispering. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t pack the punch of say, ‘The Ash-Tree’. 

  Overall though, Ghosts is a triumph for all concerned. The concept is strong and original, the performances are excellent, and the album’s uncanny atmosphere will not easily be forgotten. In terms of Tony Wakeford’s work, this is the best music I've heard from him since the 2000 Sol Invictus album Hill Of Crosses (although admittedly I haven’t heard absolutely everything he’s done since then). Sometimes I wish Tony would stop doing quite so many different projects and concentrate more on Sol Invictus (there hasn’t been a new Sol album since 2005), but when the results are this good, you won’t hear me complaining, and this wouldn’t have worked as a Sol Invictus album at all. In terms of Andrew King, I infinitely prefer Ghosts to Thalassocracy, his recent collaboration with Brown Sierra, which I found very dour and indigestible. 

  Ghosts is one of the best dark folk albums of the year, and it gets my vote as the best Cold Spring release of 2008. The album is handsomely packaged in a digipack sleeve with appropriately forbidding cover art by Andrew King, and a booklet with texts, lyrics and amusing photos of the band members camping it up in period costume. As the leaves wither and the gentle decay of autumn slips into the frosty harshness of winter, what better way to pass the long dark nights than by the fireside, with a snifter of brandy, a cigar – and the companionship of Ghosts?

Ghosts is one of those albums I had been waiting for for quite some time. Tony Wakefordstarted this project with the MP3-only album The Turning Wheel on Woven Wheat Whispers in 2006, but has since been joined by Andrew King to take on this project together. Along with an impressive array of guest artists (Kris ForceReeve Malka, and John Murphy, to name a few), these two men have tackeled the superb and prolific ghost stories of M.R. James on this interesting and original album.

Those who think that Wakeford has been stuck in playing straight-forward neofolk with the classic Sol Invictus should look again, for the good man has shown a fine taste for musical experiments in the past years. 2007 saw the release of his collaboration with Nick Grey and Kris Force, the beautiful and subtle Grey Force Wakeford album, and this latest one by The Triple Tree is no exception. Ghosts is made up of original compositions that incorporate elements from the neofolk background, surely, but also ambient, neo-classical, Wakeford’s own funky bass, and of course traditional song as championed by Andrew King. The result as a whole is quite diverse, yet very coherent in its atmosphere.

That is, of course, the aim of a concept album like this. Just as James’ stories display different flavours, their overall tone is always one of dread and mystery: a restrained counterpart to the splatter horror of today. Ghosts are of course the real protagonists in these tales of forbidden esoteric magic, tragedy, and horrid crime. So it is with the music on this album, which is at different times epic, subtle, mystic, unnerving, catchy, but always convincing.

This album is quite different from its predecessor, which focused more on dreamy ambient repetition, and is closer to the aforementioned Grey Force Wakeford in style, though with a distinctly more horrid atmosphere, and more folk influences in the music itself. Another link is of course English Heretic, who indeed are no strangers to the world of M.R. James. Their interpretation of “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You” off the 2006 album Wyrd Tales was no less brilliant. Little surprise thatThe Triple Tree make grateful use of EH field recordings. Finally, Andrew King’s collaboration with Les Sentiers Conflictuels comes to mind, which features a similar combination of spoken word and horror atmosphere.

There’s no use trying to describe this album any further. The key elements are sophisticated dark experimental music with a rewarding lyrical and narrative base in the classic ghost stories by James. It’s certainly not an accessible whole if you are expecting a certain established musical style, but I can’t do otherwise than recommend this album to anyone who feels up to the task of digesting this work of experimental musical horror.

Reviewed by O.S.

The Triple Tree - Ghosts
As gulls soar above the coast and orchestral strings scrape, the soprano voice of Kris Force that enters, immediately evokes comparisons with wintry English carols effectively setting the atmosphere for Ghosts, a selection of compositions influenced and based on the writing of M. R. James. Tony Wakeford and Andrew King are the shadowy figures behind this homage to Montague Rhodes James, the finest ghost-story writer England has ever produced. Naturally Ghosts carries traces of Wakeford's Sol Invictus and Andrew King's traditional folk, yet with their expanded cast - including Kris Force, Guy Harries, Autumn Grieve, John Murphy, M, Renee Rosen, Mercy Liao - they go far beyond their usual projects and create something chilling and truly befitting of the work of M.R. James.

'The Three Crowns', that follows, opens with the unaccompanied singing of Andrew King, effected and layered over footsteps running along the shingle of the beach. Strings are given a mediaeval feel, as Tony Wakeford sings of the three crowns buried along the East Anglia coast to ward off invaders. 'The Three Crowns' like the majority of the tracks here are based around excerpts of James' prose.

Guy Harries refined spoken tones work well on 'The Mezzotint', as he describes the haunted engraving of a manor house, over drum rolls and marimba percussion. Its sinister undercurrents heightened by violin sweeps. The Ash Tree forms the basis for two tracks. 'Mrs Mothersole' with Autumn Grieve taking the role of a Witchhunt victim, her wispy voice languishing amidst lashing rain, soft bass touches and fluttering electronic treatments. 'The Ash Tree' follows, with lyrics derived from random selections from the Bible, read by King over sinister electronics, short drum rolls and flurries of bells.

Not to downplay the role of Tony Wakeford and others here, but it is Andrew King that really captures the essence of these stories. His voice sounds almost dredged from the past of old England. On 'The Stalls' he is in fine folk voice, reciting a charm over harmonium drone and processional beat as ghostlike voices hover in the background. On 'Lost Hearts' he recites the notes of Mr Abney's experiment; a thwarted attempt to attain spiritual enlightenment through the absorption of three hearts of persons under 21 years of age. With Wakeford leading an agglomeration of voices in the distance performing a Christian hymn it effectively captures the time period and imminent demise of Mr Abney.

'Black Crusade', adapted from an article in Ghosts & Scholars, is a fine folk ballad featuring an impassioned delivery from Andrew King, over harmonium drone, processional hand rhythms with passages of massed singing.

Autumn Grieve takes the lead on 'The Malice of Inanimate Objects', accompanied by Tony Wakeford on the chorus. It's soft bass, wispy flute melody and jazz-inflected drumming providing the most song-based outing on Ghosts. This is one of several tracks not directly derived from the works of M.R. James.

Some of M.R. James's best-known works, 'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come To You' and 'Casting The Runes', are less developed opting for uneasy atmospheres of supernatural horror. 'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come To You' is delivered as a series of whistled notes over gentle atmo-drone as an assortment of voices intone the Latin inscription engraved on the found whistle as drums are beaten and gulls sweep over the beach. 'Casting the Runes' is awash with a malevolent terror created from discordant harmonium drone, ominous sound lashes, a mire of threatening voices and the distant battering of drums. It like much of Ghosts is commendable for the way it draws upon environmental sounds to sustain the baleful atmosphere.

The opening prologue is reprised in a revised version under the title 'The Ghosts of England' sung by Autumn Grieve and Andrew King backed by a chorus of voices, its soft organ drone and flute melody, providing a fitting end to this homage to M.R. James.

This is a great release. Andrew King's cover artwork is stunning and the booklet containing lyrics and text, and photographs, given an Edwardian makeover, of the contributors are fantastic (but doesn't Kris Force look a dead ringer for Vivienne Westwood!). Ghosts is a remarkable interpretation of M. R. James' ghost-fiction and in the absence of the old television dramatisations of the stories of M.R. James you really need to stoke up the fire, pour yourself a glass of wine, settle down and let The Triple Tree chill you. Recommended, but not if you're faint of heart. For more information go to www.coldspring.co.uk

Sol Invictus /Rose Rovine e Amanti / Andrew King: A Mythological Prospect of the Citie of Londinium 


From Beast Of Prey Magazin(by Stark)

Review in Polish - read full review here.

From Mentenebre(By Roberto Filippozzi)

   Estamos ante uno de esos CDs de corta tirada y casi exclusivista publicado por el prestigioso sello británico Cold Spring Records. El hecho de ser un compartido y no un larga duración tradicional lo convierte en una de esas deseadas piezas de colección. El CD además fue presentado en una velada especial organizada por Cold Spring en Londres en diciembre del año pasado, contando con la actuación en vivo de las bandas.

  El CD es atractivo desde un primer momento por contar con la presencia de Sol Invictus, pionero indiscutible de lo que hoy venimos en llamar Neofolk. Además está acompañado por dos músicos activos en este momento y con los que Tony Wakeford tiene muy buena relación: el italiano Damiano Mercuri (Rose Rovine e Amanti) y el británico Andrew King, quien es uno de sus partenaires en directo como así pudimos comprobar en los últimos directos en España de Sol Invictus (o Duo Noir, como se han hecho llamar).

  También llama poderosamente la atención el hecho de que el CD sea temático y esté dedicado al reverso mitológico de la ciudad de Londres. Pocas nociones tengo yo acerca de la mitología londinense aunque a este respecto puedo decir que la ciudad en tiempos romanos fue uno de los núcleos del Mitraismo, religión mistérica de origen persa que fue difundida por el ejército romano a lo largo del Imperio. Se de buena tinta que este es un tema favorito de Tony Wakeford, pues de ahí viene el nombre de Sol Invictus (=Mitras), tema al cual dedicó un interesante reportaje en su efímera revista "On", de la que sólo fue publicada una primera edición.

  Así, los tres proyectos se reparten el CD con tres temas cada uno. El primero, el maestro de ceremonias, Sol Invictus. Dos de sus aportaciones son temas ya conocidos de la trayectoria de la banda presentados en nuevas versiones, tal es el caso de 'Old Londinium Weeps' de su último CD "The Devil’s Steed" y de 'Eve' de "The Hill of Crosses". Sin embargo el tema nuevo que presenta es una auténtica joya: 'Down the Road Slowly', acompañado a los coros por Andrew King; una pieza con el sello característico de Tony Wakeford, de fuerza arrolladora, construida apenas con una guitarra acústica.

  Rose Rovine e Amanti si que nos presenta tres nuevos temas que nos dan una idea de la buena forma que atraviesa este proyecto tras la edición de su primer larga duración "Rituale Romanum" (podéis leer la reseña en Mentenebre). El primero de los temas es 'Mid Summer's Dream (After W. Shakespeare)', inspirado obviamente en el célebre escritor británico, un grandísimo tema lleno de lirismo, casi como una oda con un crescendo vocal en el que Mercuri nos lleva hasta la exaltación. Este tema cuenta además con la colaboración de Josef K. de Von Thronstahl. Citaremos también 'Roma (Fulcro Dell'Impero)', muy en la línea de su álbum, con guitarra acústica y caja de ritmos, y por último 'S. Michele (In Your Sword We Trust!)', que redunda en un tema cristiano como es el del arcángel San Gabriel quién derrotó a Lucifer. Tal vez sea este último el menos conseguido de los tres.

   Y cierra la terna el cantautor y artista gráfico Andrew King. Él se caracteriza fundamentalmente por cantar a capella, no obstante para esta ocasión ha provisto a sus temas de alguna suerte de acompañamiento. Así presenta un tema en directo 'When The Bells Justle In The Tower', ornamentado de campanas como perfecto acompañamiento, 'Polly On The Shore', con una atmosférica melodía de sintetizador y por último 'London', el tema más armado sonoramente, con unos tambores patibularios que le confieren al tema un aire bastante lúgubre. Es por esto este último tema el que destacaría de la aportación de Andrew King.

  Lo único que puedo decir es que el éxito de este trabajo ha sido muy grande y que a día de hoy las existencias en el sello se han agotado, así que serás un afortunado si puedes rescatar algún ejemplar en tu tienda de discos o bien buceando por la red. ¡Corre a por él!

From Darkroom(By Roberto Filippozzi)

   Come i più informati conoscitori della scena neofolk già sapranno, lo scorso 2 dicembre gli inglesi Sol Invictus ed Andrew King, assieme al progetto italiano Rose Rovine e Amanti, si sono esibiti in concerto presso il Water Rats Theatre di Londra, con la celebre label Cold Spring a fare gli onori di casa ed a curarsi dell’organizzazione della serata. La stessa etichetta inglese ha inteso realizzare, a degna celebrazione dell’evento, un CD comprendente tre brani a testa per ognuno degli act esibitisi sul palco in quella sera di dicembre, e del dischetto in questione è stato fatto omaggio di una copia ad ognuno degli astanti presentatisi al concerto. Fortunatamente ci giunge in redazione una copia fra le poche rimaste da quella (presumibilmente) memorabile serata, sebbene sprovvista del booklet supplementare (completo di testi) fornito a chi ebbe la fortuna di presenziare all’evento, ed è plausibile che presto questa limitatissima e già introvabile release diventi oggetto di disperate ricerche fra i cultori della scena neofolk… Come già ci suggerisce il titolo dell’opera, siamo di fronte ad un lavoro che celebra a modo suo la ‘City’, capitale del Regno Unito, e chi meglio dei Sol Invictus del decano Tony Wakeford avrebbe potuto aprire il disco (e chiudere il concerto del 2 dicembre)? E così “Old London Weeps”, ascoltata sull’ultima prova in studio “The Devil’s Steed”, diventa “Old Londinium Weeps” in questa versione dall’incipit assai più cupo, mentre è proprio quell’Andrew King che ritroveremo più avanti a supportare Wakeford nei cori della poetica ed intensa “Down The Road Slowly”; ci congediamo dai Sol Invictus con una nuova versione della più datata “Eve” (da “The Hill Of Crosses”, del 2000), in vero anche più intensa dell’originale. A seguire (ri)troviamo Damiano Mercuri, titolare del progetto Rose Rovine e Amanti di cui vi abbiamo già ampiamente parlato per il recente “Rituale Romanum” (edito proprio dalla Cold Spring): l’artista romano porta un po’ d’Italia in questa release ‘angolofona’ col suo neofolk poetico e malinconico, come dimostra da subito “Mid Summer’s Dream (after W. Shakespeare)”, delicata ballata nella quale il nostro duetta con una bella voce femminile prima che il brano si accenda, acuendo i suoi toni enfatici. Bene anche “Roma (Fulcro Dell’Impero)”, con un notevole crescendo d’intensità doverosamente supportato da solide percussioni e da un calzante mandolino (e con l’intervento vocale dell’amico Josef K. dei Von Thronstahl), mentre la ‘parentesi italica’ si chiude con “S. Michele (In Your Sword We Trust!)”, poetico frangente neofolk presentato - come anche gli altri due estratti - nella sua ‘London version’. La chiusura spetta ad Andrew King, che in quella sera di dicembre fece le funzioni dell’opening-act: l’artista inglese, noto per il suo stile fortemente recitativo ed imperniato sulle sfumature teatrali della sua voce, tiene fede a quanto fatto sinora con “When The Bells Justle In The Tower” (basata su di un testo di A.E. Houseman), traccia dai tratti minimali catturata live con in evidenza un Andrew spiccatamente teatrale che, a tratti, infiamma il tutto con urla rabbiose. Ancor più minimale nelle sue trame strumentali si rivela “Polly On The Shore”, decisamente più poetica, mentre la chiusura spetta alla marziale “London”, ispirata all’opera di William Blake e decisamente spettrale e sinistra, fra rumori di carrozze che fuggono fra le nebbie della Londra di fine ’800 e campane che scandiscono l’incedere delle ore notturne, in cui le ombre sbucano fuori minacciose da ogni anfratto… Come detto in precedenza, questo succulento e pregevole dischetto è destinato a diventare (almeno stavolta meritatamente) oggetto di culto all’interno di una scena che vive principalmente di cultori: buona caccia.

From Judas Kiss(By Lee Powell)

   Released in conjunction with the live performance of Sol Invictus, Rose Rovine e Amanti and Andrew King on a cold winters night in London on December the 2nd, 2006 ‘A mythological prospect of the Citie of Londinium’ collects together three tracks apiece from each artists, which appeared that night at the live event orchestrated by Cold Spring records.

  Opening with a sample ‘What have I done to deserve this, have I displeased the gods in some manner’ a line delivered with camp pomposities by Carry on… star Kenneth Williams, Sol Invictus’ offering are exactly what you’d expect from a group that have over the years become on the of the main forerunners and founding fathers of the neo-folk genre. Delicately strummed acoustic guitars are coupled with Tony Wakeford’s melancholy vocals and subtle instrumentations to create a wonderfully passionate and hauntingly stimulating delivery of near prefect contemporary neo-folk. With a truly timeless quality and an underlying passion and warmth, it’s difficult not to be seduced by Sol’s offerings. The quality of their song writing and delivery is superb and they live up to their reputation as one of the most important groups to inhabit the genre with great ease. Their combination of foot tapping guitar and percussion musical backing and the lyrical content is a wonderful compelling and its difficult not to sing along to whilst the somewhat dark yet enlightening atmosphere that emanates from it grows with a rousing ferocity before it gently presents itself. 

  Sol Invictus’ contribution is the prefect way to open the CD up and sets the atmosphere, tempo and a very high marker for Mr King and Rose Rovine e Amanti, whose debut CD was recently released on Cold Spring and who appear next on this CD, to follow. 

  The middle section is this release, as mentioned, is given to the most recently conceived act of this threesome, Rose Rovine e Amanti, who produce a sound firmly rooted within the modern-day neo-folk genre. Delicately strummed acoustic guitars are married up with string arrangements and accompanied by interesting coupling of accented male and female vocals to create a very pleasant and enjoyable sound. Whilst not having the depth of sound and atmosphere of Sol Invictus, Rose Rovine e Amanti’s sound has a gentler more relaxed but occasionally commanding edge to it which makes the listening of their contribution almost effortless yet still highly enjoyable. Capturing the very essence of the modern neo-folk genre Rose Rovine e Amanti contribution carries on very nicely from that of Sol’s whilst giving a subtly different flavour to a similar style of music. 

  Drawing a close to the proceedings is the English musician Andrew King, whose style whilst still being loosely labelled as neo-folk is perhaps the only artist on this CD who’s sound is more akin to traditional folk music to the other bands represented here. With a very strong, distinctive and deep voice as the centrepiece for each of his three tracks, Andrew seems to approach his tracks as if telling a story as apposed to delivering a song in the conventional sense of the word. Using his voice to convey the lyrics and pace of each track with minimal instrumentations to accompany him, he sets an overly dark and menacing mood, which reminds me on occasion of a more folk/traditional take on Boyd Rice’s rants yet without quite the same venom. On initial listens it can be quite difficult to full appreciate Andrew’s style of presentation as it needs some work to be full absorbed. However once it has been it fits rather well into flow and aesthetic of the album as a whole and draws a powerful and passionate closure to the proceedings. 

  ‘A mythological prospect of the Citie of Londinium’ offers up an interesting and absorbing look at three differing takes on the neo-folk genre by three of the genres most respected names in one neat little package and is well with your investigation if your tastes are of this nature.

From Compulsion(by Tony Dickie)

  This split CD was originally gifted to those who attended the live performance from these three acts at the Water Rats in London in December 2006. Those in attendance received a complimentary copy with a bonus lyric booklet, unfortunately not available to those purchasing the surplus copies now available from Cold Spring.

  Each act contribute three tracks each. Sol Invictus open the proceedings with 'Old Londinium Weeps'. Taken from their The Devil's Steed album it laments the decline of London with Wakeford's despondent vocal hovering over cyclical guitar patterns drenched in weeping violin. This is a more atmopsheric and alluring version but you couldn't really fault a track that opens with the sneering tones of Kenneth Williams, could you? 'Down The Road Slowly' is a damning indictment on modern day Britain, with Wakeford's harrowing list of social abominations contrasted with pagan imagery. Wakeford and King deadpan the chorus: 'England is funny but sometimes she scares me'. Its dour sentiments fit with the dark demeneanor of Wakeford's outfit and, along with the opening track, it's a highlight of the Sol Invictus tracks. For their final track Sol return to the jaunty 'Eve', which originally appeared on The Hill of Crosses, performed here in a downbeat folk manner, its skipping rhythm offset by brooding electronics.

  The three London versions of tracks by Rose Rovine E Amanti show they are something of a sophisticated outfit within the neo-fok genre. Their romantic ballads based around acoustic guitars and voice are accompanied by violins and mandolin giving their music something of a neo-classical edge. Once again, the work of Shakespeare is plundered and, once again, they are joined by the Von Thronstahl vocalist Josef K. who provides the heavyset vocals on 'Roma (Fukcro dell`Impero)', softened by the mandolin and harmonic voice of the Rose Rovine E Amanti frontman Damiano Mercuri. Yet its within the powerful ballads 'Mid Summer's Dream (after W. Shakespeare) and 'S. Michele (In Your Sword We Trust) with the rich male and female voices that this Italian act are at their strongest forging their twin inspirations of Christianity and Roman Culture.

  Andrew King is a scholar of traditional song and folk vernacular. Yet rather than offer simple straightforward renditions his releases have been embellished by the musicians of the polyrhthmic industrial act KnifeLadder, adding an exciting but unobtrusive degree of experimentation.

  On the live setting of 'When The Bells Justle In The Tower' he delivers a captivating performance of a text from A.E. Houseman. Amidst looped bell tolls, tinkering notes from a music box, and lashing rain King's impassioned delivery is impeccable, momentarily slipping from stern recitation into flights of fury as drums power. The stark arrangement of 'Polly On The Shore' is captivating in its simplicty and remarkably affecting. King's rendition is particularly moving as it slips from solo delivery to a congregation of voices backed by a gentle organ drone. It recalls some of the best moments from his split CD with dark folk troubadours Changes. His final contribution is a musical setting of poet, artist and visionary William Blake's 'London', an atmospheric soundpiece centered around a solemn drum beat, interspersed by the sound of galloping horses through the empty London streets providing a portentous setting for King's stern recitation. It's by far the most mysterious and sinister track from Andrew King, and perhaps more representative of 1888, his latest collaboration (which I've yet to hear) with the French act Les Sentiers Conflictuels based on the letters of another historic London figure, Jack the Ripper.

  Each of the acts represent themselves well here, so it should appeal to veteran listeners and newcomers alike. Just don't be too aggrieved if, like me, you missed out on the limited booklet. The music and paintings of old London by Andrew King make this worth tracking down before it slips into the collector market.

From Zero Tolerance(by Simon Collins)

  This split CD was released to commenorate the Sol Invictus concert in London in December 2006, and features three exclusive tracks from each of the three bands who performed. All those fortunate enough to be there on the night got a free copy - cool or what?! - but for everyone else, copies are available for purchase. First up, Sol Invictus `Old London Weeps` builds from a dense collage of samples into a typically gloomy Tony Wakeford ballad - the best track on here. `Down The Road Slowly` features Wakeford and Andrew King tag-teaming the vocals. Rose Rovine E Amanti`s `Mid Summers Dream` is adapted from Shakespeare. The lyrical `Roma (Fulcro dell`Impero)` boasts vocals from Von Thronstahls Josef K. Andrew King`s contribution includes original settings of poetry by A. E. Houseman and the thunderously excoriating `London` by William Blake - another highlight - along with `Polly On The Shore`, a traditional sea shanty. All in all, a nice souvenirof a memorable evening, and no doubt a collectots item in years to come.

From Harvest Home(By Mark Coyle)

  The city of London is endlessly fascinating, wandering around it in the course of my business you feel history compressed into every street. This album brings together Sol Invcitus, Rose Rovine e Amanti from Italy and post-industrial traditional singer, Andrew King on three tracks each. It is relased by Cold Spring on the anniversary of their joint concert in London's Kings Cross. Whilst not taken from the concert the CD is thematically linked. A bonus booklet was provided at the concert taking place at the Water Rats Concert on 2nd December which joins the live concert with the CD.

  Sol Invictus start with an electronic tapestry launched by Kenneth Williams from the film Carry On Cleo saying 'What have I done to deserve all this? Displeased the gods in some manner?'. Then hollow laughs (possibly this is even Sid James), swirling strings and droning cacophony combine as the melody to the song 'Old London Weeps' starts. 

  The Kenneth Williams link is not as strange as it seems, he lived his curiously empty life in King's Cross where the concert took place. His flat off Euston Road near the White House hotel is still marked by a blue plaque (which I look up to every time I pass). 'Carry on Cleo' has the Romans in England, the 'Londinium' of the album's title referring to the Roman name for London. Sol Invictus is of course named after a Roman sun cult. So Kenneth Williams as Caesar connects London to Sol Invictus and yet delightfully avoids any accusations of pomposity. 

  Back to the music, the rendition of 'Old London Weeps' taken from the last album 'The Devil's Steed' is atmospheric and very well performed. A sort of Victorian melo-dramatic folk that is both distinct from much else around and a new direction for Sol Invictus I felt. There is a more ethereal aspect than on the album which fans are sure to enjoy. 

  'Down The Road Slowly' from the first Tursa download 'These Cold Hands EP' has flute lines woven together over Tony's guitar. When the vocal to the song itself emerges, it has a slight Tudor aspect to the melody with Tony (and Andrew King) singing 'England is funny but sometimes it scares me' and lyrics such as 'the W.I. are carrying scythes'. This fits with the paranoia of being in London recently, the unspoken unease and the ever present threat of violence. A place where magical societies launched in Bloomsbury and every vice can be satisfied in Soho. Where the consumerism of Oxford Street sits over the top of pagan sites thousands of years old. As the song builds towards its climax the undercurrent of the sinister, of energy manifesting, of secret practices in every hidden alley way of London becomes tangible.

  'Eve' is next, originally a single back in 2000. This song has a traditional folk sound at its base, an almost jaunty melody and acoustic instruments put through resonant processing. The backing has seething electric guitar sounds and an implied rhythm, a brooding sense of menace in the ominous bassline and whispered spoken backing vocals. Here 'Eve' is a moral redeemer, righting the wrongs and injustices, ultimately setting the world alight. Cleansing the impure streets of London on this most dramatic of songs.

  Rose Rovine e Amanti are I have only heard a few songs by from their highly regarded 'Rituale Romanum' album. It exists as the artistic expression of Damiani Mercuri who merges Christian spiritual belief, rediscovery of Italian history and a dedication to the esthetic arts. On this album Damiani brings us three exclusive 'London' version of his songs.

  The sound is quite warm being romantic folk song merged with classical in structure. Their first song here 'Midsummer's Dream (after W. Shakespeare)' starts intimately and then swells as its progresses. Their emotional songs are complemented with a production that gives them a large sound when needed without becoming overly ornate. 'Roma Cultro del Impero' has vocals that are low in register and bear a passing resemblence to monks with slow but heavy drums and mandolin. 'S. Michele' is a swirling classically oriented song with multi-layered string lines and an interesting electronic coda.

  Andrew King is our final artist and one of the most consistently interesting artists making modern folk influenced music. He combines a journey through the industrial music of the 1980s and 1990s with a deep appreciation and research of traditional song. His singing is focussed on the traditional set amongst stark, minimal backings that take something of his industrial past. Here then on the live 'When the Bells Justle In the Tower' (with lyrics adapted from A. E. Housman) has Andrew singing with just bells looped a few notes from a music box as accompaniment. It starts gently enough but with Andrew we know he is not a bucolic idealist and at points his voice bursts out for a moment in furious rage. It's absolutely chilling, story telling in its most primal form. His brief vocal rage is electronically looped before fading away, the traditional and electronic harnessed together momentarily. 

  Next Andrew performs a unique take on the traditional standard 'Polly On The Shore' in the style of Pop Maynard. With only a simple organ line and the sea's waves as backing, he sings both solo and with an improvised choir. Andrew has the ability to take a traditional song and as he sings it simply, with his ragged choir contributing, to move the listener profoundly. He takes on the role of protagonist, living it for the listener rather than just singing it. We can suspend our disbelief and accept his rendition as a reenactment as much as performance, especially here. 

  The final song of the album and the last from Andrew is fittingly called 'London' from the words of William Blake's poem which form the lyrics. It's a foreboding, sinister performance with a slow drum marking out the steps (possibly to the gallows of Newgate...). A churning drone is the only other backing behind Andrew, sounding like the frenzied head of some ritual. The bleak words of poet and visionary, William Blake are adopted, himself part of London's creative and imaginery history.

  Bell chimes, black coweled choirs and secretive spoken words appear throughout. It's Andrew's vocals though that stand out, they absorb and terrify the listener. Blakes' words start darkly and get ever more intense from there, opening with:

" I wander through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe."

  Here the album starts to link with Andrew's recent recital of the 1888 supposed letters from Jack The Ripper. Beyond the words there is an increasingly malevolent feeling of the hidden arts at work, the streets of London cursed, plague returning, sorcery at the Tower of London, cockerels slain in the British Library. Back then this extraordinarily powerful song takes us to Euston Road, King's Cross, north London, scene of decay, depravity, literary knowledge, renewal and the odd life of Kenneth Williams. Blimus!

  I recently asked Tony Wakeford of Sol Invictus the profound knowledge he wished to impart in this album. He considered for a long time and then whistpered to me in ancient latin "Nihil expectore in omnibus". A statement as important today in London as it has always been.


 John Barleycorn Reborn


A word or two from the artists:

Tinkerscuss: JOHN BARLEYCORN REBORN is phenomenal! The flow from one artist to the next, within the premise of birth into death (and eventual rebirth) is delicately managed and carries the listener with it almost unbidden. What becomes clear, is the passion for the subject each artist (and the collater) have brought to the project. Musicians, from all over, from different approaches and with only the remit of the album title to start with .. yet instead of a fragmented and confusing muddle, you have brought together a coherent and powerful result; very powerful indeed. It emanates from every note as it dips and soars in turn. The finished project transcends individual tastes and approaches and leaves you breathless and reeling. This is a strong message .. John Barleycorn is indeed reborn.
We're so, so proud to be part of this.  

Philip G Martin (Drohne): Just received the cd, a jolly good compilation. I feel priviliged to have contributed a wah wah hurdy-gurdy solo.

Peter Ulrich: The JBR compilation is a wonderful project - great to be involved with it...

From Necroweb(By Valentina)

  Ob man Mittelaltermusik mag, Celtic, englisch-irische Kneipenmusik oder Neofolk, hier wird man fündig. Eine einzigartige Mixtur aus all diesen Musikstilen bietet dieser 2- CD- Sampler, der in Zusammenarbeit von Cold Spring Records und Woven Wheat Whispers entstand. Erzählt wird auf diesem Konzeptalbum die Geschichte von John Barleycorn, seines Lebens, seines Todes und seiner Wiedergeburt. Altbritische Geschichte, Mystik und Mythologie wurden hier in nie dagewesener Form lyrisch und musikalisch aufbereitet. Beiträge von bekannteren Bands wie beispielsweise SOL INVICTUS oder SIEBEN tragen Zeugnis dafür, dass die Zusammenstellung von Szenekennern qualitativ hochwertig gestaltet wurde. Qualitativ hochwertig ist auch die technische Seite zu bewerten. Klarer Sound und sauberer Klang lassen darauf schließen, dass für diese Aufnahmen ein professionelles Studio zur Verfügung stand. Man kann sich in einer Mußestunde zurücklehnen und sich in deutlich verständlichem Englisch die tragische Ballade erzählen lassen, ebensogut kann man sich aber auch vorstellen, in einem gemütlichen Pub sitzend die Musik zur Berieselung laufen zu lassen. Schlachtgesänge, Hymnen und Klagelieder wechseln sich treffend ab, Langeweile kann hier nicht aufkommen. Ein Märchen in Form der Sage um König Artus. Seltsam jedoch, dass der eigentliche Teil der Saga, die Wiedergeburt des John Barleycorn, deren Titel das Gesamtwerk trägt, nur als Download erhältlich ist. Aber wen das Ende vom Lied interessiert, für den wird das eine lohnenswerte Sache sein. Das Sleeve-Pack mit Booklets, Wallpapers und sonstigem Bonusmaterial gibt's gratis unter http://www.john-barleycorn-reborn.com/Media.htm.

  Alle Anspieltipps aufzulisten, würde den Rahmen sprengen, mein persönliches Lieblingsstück jedoch ist "Spirit Of Albion". (9.5/10)

From DSide(By Valentina)

  Sebbene la Cold Spring Records sia per noi sempre certezza d'ottimo prodotto..non solo per la professionalità e le innate doti di selezione.. è d'obbligo offrire una riconoscenza ufficiale per questo progetto realizzato con la collaborazione della Woven Wheat Whispers (servizio di musica folk). La compilation uscita nell'Agosto del 2007, intitolata 'John Barleycorn - Reborn / Rebirth' è ambizioso e punta in alto. Trattasi di una raccolta di ben 33 brani, divisi in 2 CD, allegati ad un esplicativo e ricchissimo booklet che racchiude nel suo sapiente abbraccio numerosi artisti tra cui Sieben e Sol Invictus, seppur non da meno siano moltissimi altri nomi presenti, e magari sconosciuti ai piu, meritevoli d'attenzioni. Da non tralasciare poi, è la possibilità di scaricare altri 33 brani, gratuitamente..insomma..musica a non finire! L'idea di base è quella di esplorare una vasta area musicale folcloristica vicina all'era degli 'anni bui' (concetto comunque largamente elargito nel copioso booklet) con sonorità folk che vanno da quelle piu tradizionali a quelle piu vicine ai giorni nostri, neofolk, sperimentali.. e proprio perche il folk è qualcosa che esiste da sempre e ci lega nel sangue e nelle tradizioni (seppur solo aquisite o onorate) siamo certi apprezzerete questo (vasto) spicchio di mondo antico che vi trascinerà con le sue puristiche acustiche in un mondo ancestrale. D'altronde, è finalità comune quella dei partecipanti, di dedicare il lavoro a chi celebra e osanna tutt'oggi il folclore britannico.
  John Barleycorn (John Grano d'Orzo), era una canzone tradizionale diffusa in Inghilterra e Scozia (che ritroverete nel suo testo originale nel booklet, assieme ad immagini accuratamente selezionate) incentrata sull'impersonificazione di quello che era lo spirito della birra e del whiskey, metaforicamente parlando lo Spirito del Grano, che da sempre accompagna la ruralità e le leggende, impersonificando il continuo rinnovo della vita rivisto nel ciclo della mietitura. Potremmo poi discorrere sul mito della fertilità, usi e costumi, sacralità, paganesimo, sul senso dei cicli o sul mero sostentamento, sulla simbologia..ma vi lasceremmo volentieri trarre considerazioni ed accostamenti personali durante l'ascolto dei racconti di tutti gli autori proposti nei tre CD.

-|-|-» Immancabile questa compilation..e non solo perche contiene moltissimi brani dalle piu sfumature ma perchè sarebbe un bellissimo regalo per celebrare l'antica festa pagana del Natale del Sole.. questo 25 Dicembre.

From Apostazja(By Stark)

  Review in Polish - read full review here.

From Cyclic Defrost(by Ewan Burke)

  Over the past few years there has been a resurgence of interest in folk music in the UK. It’s impossible to know exactly what has prompted this, but I’ll hazard a guess. With the slow death of rock and pop music, the rise of X-Factor and Pop Idol-style TV shows, and dance music fast disappearing up its own fundament, discerning music lovers have been crying out for something real and meaningful. And this seems to have prompted an interest in artists whose influences extend beyond post-punk (hello Franz!) or the Beatles (wotcher Noel!)

  John Barleycorn Reborn is an amazing collection of 33 tracks of new music from the UK’s dark/neo/wyrd folk underground. Curated by Mark Coyle of Woven Wheat Whispers, the set is themed around the old (dating back to the 16th Century) English folk song ‘John Barleycorn’. Part One is entitled ‘Birth’ and Part Two is ‘Death’. Highlights on the first disc include Pumajaw with the doomy, dirgelike ‘Burning of Auchindoun’; and English Heretic with the barking mad ‘Hippomania’. On Part Two there is the very wonderful Sand Snowman, with the dreamy ‘Stained Glass Morning’; and the gentle Scottish voice of the Kitchen Cynics beguiles with ‘The Guidman’s Ground’. But it’s unfair to pick out individual tracks, becuase there is so much good stuff on here - and the quality level never dips, which for a 33-track set is remarkable.

  This collection is a real labour of love. A 20 page booklet with beautiful old woodcuts and short articles by various participants is included - and on top of that, there is a further 25 page PDF document available online, with full notes for each individual track. And did I mention that if you buy this 2xCD compilation, you are then entitled to download Part Three (Rebirth) for free - which features a further 33 tracks in MP3 format - taking this set to a whopping 66 tracks in total. I confidently predict that in future years, this compilation will bear the same relation to British folk music that the Harry Smith Anthology does to American folk music. This is more than just another album - it’s a significant cultural achievement.

From HMV Choice(by Jude Rogers)

  Modern folk music quakes in its pointy boots - the real deal is here.

  John Barleycorn Reborn is an incredible endeavour - a 2CD set of dark, ancient songs by a variety of passionate British artists. Every song digs deep into folk music's mysterious past, building up an emotional song cycle all about the slow passage from birth to death.

  This doesn't make it a record for a house party, but as a private pleasure the results are spooky, engrossing and incredibly thrilling. It conjures up strange worlds where north country maids jostle against Wicker Men, kings dance among spirits, and gargoyles sigh in the company of dragonflies. Artists like The Owl Service, Sharron Kraus and The Triple Tree are particularly mesmerising. Elsewhere flutes, the sad drones of dusty instruments and eerie harmonies rule the roost, giving everyone who enters John Barleycorn's gates an unforgettable listening experience.

From Groove.No(by Bjørn Hammershaug)

  SI den britiske kultfilmen The Wicker Man fra 1973 blir vi kjent med mange områder av britisk folklore, før-kristelige tradisjoner og paganistiske riter. Fruktbarhetsritualer, dyrking av solguder og magi, seksuell frilynthet, naturreligioner og menneskeofring er noen av ingrediensene. I tillegg til dette nyter filmen godt av et fantastisk soundtrack, hvis innflytelse har strukket seg langt inn i både amerikansk frifolk og britisk nyfolk. Det er en viss distinksjon mellom de to lands utvikling av dette musikalske terreng, der britisk nyfolk er mer preget av nettopp de elementer som er nevnt over. Vi bruker derfor begrepet "nyfolk" her i omtale av den britiske grenen av feltet, selv om røttene både i amerikansk frifolk og britisk nyfolk kan spores tilbake til de samme kilder på 60-tallet.

  Kjennetegn ved den britiske nyfolken er at den er mer inspirert av europeisk tradisjoner, og med klarere befatning til okkultisme og paganisme, koplet til bruk av tradisjonelle instrumenter, med elementer av industriell musikk og ikke minst "mørke" krefter. Termer som "folk noir", "pagan folk" og "apokalyptisk folk" blir brukt noe om hverandre, men felles foregangsnavn i denne kretsen er for eksempel Current 93, Nurse With Wound og Sol Invictus.

  Dette gjenspeiles i tittelen på denne fabelaktige samleren: John Barleycorn Reborn: Dark Britannica. La oss dvele to sekunder ved denne tittelen. "Dark" spiller på det mørke aspektet ved nyfolken som allerede er nevnt, dette dystre og tidvis skumle aspektet ved musikken som geografisk skiller seg naturlig fra for eksempel Californias mer blomstrende hippiekultur. "Britannica" tar oss tilbake til før-romansk tid, til tradisjoner som fremdeles lever og ånder i underverden, tilsynelatende upåvirket av den moderne utvikling. John Barleycorn er en av de eldste britiske folkesangene, først nedskrevet i 1588 i følge en av bidragsyterne i omslaget, og forteller om en manns forvandling personifisert gjennom kornsorten bygg (barleycorn) – viktig ingrediens i bryggingen av øl og dermed naturlig som symbol for fruktbarheten i åkeren og i naturen. Sangen regnes som viktig både for paganistene og for den tidlige kristningen av England, og det lever mange derfor mange spennende historier i John Barleycorn. Dette har et uttall artister opp gjennom årene visst å utnytte. Av en rekke versjoner (Traffic lagde en hel plate som heter John Barleycorn Must Die) kan vi her nevne Bert Jansch, Fairport Convention og Pentangle – alle essensielle navn innen utviklingen av nyfolken. Her møter vi altså John Barleycorn gjenfødt, det er nå en ny generasjon som vekker gamle krefter til live.

  Plateslipp er satt til Lammas 2007 – som i følge vår kalender er 1. august – og som er en dag tradisjonelt kjent for "the first fruits of the harvest". Utgiverne av plata gjør like fullt et poeng ut av å ikke knytte seg for nært opp til verken religiøse eller politiske aspekter, og uttaler om prosjektet:

  - Our concept explores the darker side of folk music is totally unrelated to the occult, modern paganism or politics. Instead it is about evoking the mystery of our ancient past, the strangeness of their beliefs and the remnants of this carrying down the centuries.

  Mye kan sies om bade britisk folklore generelt og John Barleycorn spesielt, og både i selve platecoveret og en tilhørende hjemmeside (john-barleycorn-reborn.com) tas dette opp både grundig og vel. La oss derfor prøve å rette fokus mot selve musikken. I likhet med sine amerikanske åndssøsken har det vokst frem en ny generasjon musikere i England, særlig de siste 10 årene, som har vendt seg tilbake til – i første rekke - 60-tallets eksponenter, og videre bakover i tid.

  Det skal ikke stikkes under en stol at enkelte i denne kretsen er i overkant seriøse, dunkle og selvhøytidelige. Musikken kan sikkert virke påtatt og en smule rollespillaktig for enkelte, men blant maskekledde druider og trekledde wicca-tilbedere finnes ikke minst veldig mye fin musikk. Først i denne prosesjonen går The Horse of the Gods, og de bringer naturlig nok John Barleycorn med seg. Dernest kommer The Owl Service med nydelige North Country Maid og The Story med The Wicker Man. I løpet av disse tre første møtene er mye av hemmelighetene rundt kulten avslørt: Horse of Gods med sin tradisjonsnære rotfasthet, Owl Service med sin innyndende og vakre visefolk i tradisjonen fra Shirley Collins, Ann Briggs – og senere popularisert av for eksempel Espers, The Story med sin mer eksperimentelle avgudsdyrkning. Det er langs disse kornradene vi skal befinne oss de neste par timene, og blant noe ugress så er det særlig den fruktbare jorda og de rike vekstene som danner hovedinntrykket. Jeg vil særlig rette oppmerksomheten mot Sol Invictus' To Kill All Kings som er en lang offerpreken, hypnotisk vakre Lay The Bent to the Bonny Broom (Charlotte Craig & Johan Ashterton) og den langsomme solnedgangsversjonen av Nuttamun Town (med Drohne) som tre porter inn i et meget spennende rike.
  Vi samles i kornåkeren, holder hverandre i hendene og ber til solen: La mørket komme.

   Med på kjøpet av denne lekre doble samleren følger også 33 spor for gratis nedlastning.

Record of the Week!

From The Wire(by Rob Young)

  Successive folk music resurgences in Britain have fed on the myth of eternal rebirth. This double CD, surveying the UK's vast but largely undocumented experimental folk underground, contains three separate versions (by The Horses Of The Gods, The Anvil and Xenis Emputae Travelling Band) of the old staple "John Barleycorn", often interpreted as a pagan hymn to the natural cycle. Many tracks here recall the modal folk fusions that abounded on the isles from the late 60s to the early 70s, but rather than being nurtured in a prescriptive folk club circuit, you sense that the younger artists here, like Sieben, Pumajaw, The Owl Service and The Straw Bear Band, bring an unawareness of the entire subsequent history of punk, electronics and the new underground to the table. Sharron Kraus's courtly "Horn Dance" seems haunted with the ghost of the late David Munrow, the Early Music pioneer who contributed so much to Brit folk classics by Shirley Collins and The Young Tradition. On "Hippomania", the wonderful English Heretic inherit the late Coil's folk tinged directions and occult predilections, sampling dialogue from Micahel Reeves's Witchfinder Generaland intoning a ritual inspired by the mythopoetics of Robert Graves. But there's a strong sense of continuity too on a richly diverse collection that reaches back via Martyn Bates and old Industrial neo-folkies Andrew King and Sol Invictus to father-son duo The Story, featuring Martin Welham of psych-folk outfit Forest.

From Songlines(by Tim Cumming)

  Something wicked this way comes...

   To get the full background on this singular enterprise in folk archaeology, go to the website (www.john-barleycorn-reborn.com) that accompanies the album for background essays, source material and a whole other album's worth of downloadable tracks.

  Like nothing else before it, Dark Britannia drills a deep musical borehole to explore the links between folk music and Britain's folklore, embedded in the natural cycles of birth, growth, death and rebirth.

  There are more than 30 artists included on the set, most of which are new to this reviewer, such as Tinkerscuss, Alphane Moon, The Purple Minds of Lazeron, or Sand Snowman.

  On first listen, it's like opening a cellar door onto a truly strange underground culture, illuminated by an unfamiliar power source.

  The references favour ancient deities and magical symbols, alchemical imagery, sacred landscapes, and ancient rituals whilst the musical settings tend toward acoustic drones and vocal chants that emerge from the heart of wyrd folk and rural psychedelia with their Liberty Caps firmly planted on their heads.

  The central, sacrificial story of John Barleycorn runs right through the set, from the cover art - a 17th-century woodcut of Barleycorn burning in the sun - through the central matter of the songs themselves.

  The sonic range of the album is as broad as its song list, from arcane acoustic sounds to fuzz guitar and electronics.

  Evocative and potent by turns, sometimes disturbing and thrilling, Dark Britannia will grab you the way a good ghost story - an MR James or Arthur Machen - will grab you over the course of a dark winter night.

  Pull up close to the fire and listen in.

From Heathen Harvest(by S:M:J63)

  John Barleycorn Reborn is a compilation consisting of two CDs. It aims to make us discover the folk music from "dark britannica" and especially to reflect the seasonal cyce of birth, death and rebirth. Actually, a free third part is available apart from these two CDs: it may be downloaded for those who have the CDs according to the instruction in the booklet.

  In this compilation we can find tracks that tend to be truely folk, others rather electronic-based, many ambient ones and some experimental ones. Although some might seem rather far from usual folk music, all have in common, at least, to be inspired by folk themes and tunes.

  The folk tracks consist of the rather classic guitar-tambourine-accordion ensemble (1-03) or the simplier guitar-voices mixes (2-13, 2-03). Sometimes sounding really medieval with the addition of proper female voice, medieval instruments and tunes (1-10), or with harp and flutes (2-09). There also are some melancholic ballads (1-01) only with guitar and voice, as the moving female voice on Charlotte Greig & Johan Asherton. There’s also the end track by Martyn Bates that features a lone echoed flute (2-17).

  But, modern elements quickly irrupts in this folk background. Many tracks actually are a mix between raw folk tunes or sounds and rather modern, synthetic elements. There are drums (1-04), electric guitar (1-05), sometimes creating a mix not far from bands such as Naevus (2-15), bass (2-12), distorted bass, percussion and xylophone (2-01), or synthetic sounds and drums giving a martial touch (1-08).

  Let’s not forget this compilation deals much with ambient tracks, or at least really calm and relaxing atmospheres. Ambient atmospheres appear in rather folk-oriented tracks as in this track this strange incantation together with modern elements echoing the voice (2-10), or in relaxing tracks with male and female voice (2-11). Note that although both male and female voices are well represented on this CDs, there’s only one track with both together. Of course, female voices are really relaxing and sometimes don’t even need synthetic elements (2-02). Let’s mention an ambient track influenced by folk music but heavily based on synthetic sounds (1-07) to express the fact the music is folk-influenced but not necessarily folk stricto sensu. Mixes of folk influences and modern elements tend to be ambient on many tracks, could it be with guitar - female voice ensemble (2-04), flute and some modern elements (2-05), crows’ samples, mysterious chants of women together with guitar, a few modern sounds (2-06) or simply guitar (2-07).

  Finally, some tracks feature spoken experimentations with samples, electric guitars, violins howls in the background, sparse drums, mysterious and threatening atmosphere (1-15), with accordion, noises guitars, creating an atmopsphear between calmness and anguish (2-16), with piano and clarinet sounds, and ambient and experimental track also dealing with the same ambivalent atmosphear but much calmer and rather reassuring than odd (1-16).

  In conclusion, we can say that, even if there’s a big diversity of genres among these tracks, the folk influence remains always present. This compilation deserves the title "music of the fields", for it makes you feel close to nature. Let’s say the folk tracks are really folk, not just having tiny folk elements. For the other tracks, the most, they focus rather on ambient atmospheres, then on neo-/darkfolk mixes with modern elements or sometimes on experimental compositions. But, beware: you won’t find here usual neofolk bands, with bombastic martial hymns or industrial sound collage consisting of WWII samples. It’s rather intimist, subtle and close to nature. You’ll find many tracks with several voices. Most voices seemed to me to have a really good quality.

  Despite the fact some tracks are really simple, the voices with guitars are the base, and are able to give the most of the 'folk feeling' on this compilation. "John Barleycorn Reborn" stands as a good and especially relaxing panorama of various subgenres within English folk music, far from stereotypes of either raw, heavy traditional folk music or 'cheap' postindustrial martial acts.

From Darkroom(by Michele Viali)

  Fino a pochi anni fa era impensabile che un prodotto come "John Barleycorn Reborn" potesse uscire per un'etichetta dedita principalmente all'industrial come la Cold Spring. Ma i tempi cambiano, e di molto. Negli ultimi anni c'è stato un interessamento notevole da parte di label di nicchia per le manifestazioni musicali più tradizionali e legate al passato: forse in Inghilterra cominciò tutto con le ricerche dei Current 93, ma anche i lavori della Storm di Michael Moynihan (Blood Axis) aiutarono ad arrivare ad una svolta in questo senso, fino a giungere ad alcune sub-label programmatiche (tipo la Percht o la Ahnstern, 'appoggiate' alla Steinklang Industries) che fanno spesso della loro produzione un inno agli antichi suoni acustici locali. L'opera in questione raccoglie 33 brani di autori che recuperano le proprie radici attraverso la musica, esplorando il folk dell'età oscura per eccellenza: il medioevo. Tramite i suoni veniamo catapultati in un passato di cui è possibile rivivere rituali e credenze: si tratta di quell'Inghilterra oscura ("Dark Britannica", appunto) compresa tra l'era romana e i tempi antecedenti l'invasione dei Sassoni. Lo stesso titolo della compilation ci conduce all'immagine leggendaria e medievale di John Barleycorn, protagonista di una classica folk-song inglese che racchiude valenze rituali, rurali e magiche; non a caso i due CD sono stati concepiti durante il Lammas (1° agosto), giorno in cui tradizionalmente si celebra nelle comunità rurali il primo prodotto della mietitura. Il fine di una così ampia raccolta è anche di presentare tanti autori che finora sono rimasti ai margini, non considerati dai media e nemmeno dal music-business alternativo: vi troverete quindi dinnanzi a tanti nomi sconosciuti che da tempo si impegnano nel far rivivere il passato attraverso una strumentazione classica (principalmente la chitarra acustica), ma anche ricercata. Accanto a questi appaiono alcuni musicisti celebri, il cui approccio alla materia è sicuramente meno folk e meno tradizionale, ma comunque di grande impatto: mi riferisco a While Angels Watch, Martin Bates, Sol Invictus, Andrew King, The Triple Tree (nuovo progetto di Tony Wakeford ed Andrew King), Sieben (Matt Howden) e Peter Ulrich (ex-Dead Can Dance). Una terza parte della compilation, contenente altri 33 brani di altrettanti autori, è disponibile per gli acquirenti di "John Barleycorn Reborn" tramite download dal sito della Woven Wheat Whispers, label co-produttrice del lavoro: si chiude così un'opera mastodontica che abbraccia nel modo più ampio possibile la scena folk inglese contemporanea. Parallelamente a tutto ciò potrete scoprire, con questo doppio CD, l'ideale anello di congiunzione tra le tante realtà neofolk (alcune molto vicine ai suoni del passato) e la scena folk tradizionale, forse (finora) troppo snobbata e veramente lontana da qualsiasi linea trendy dei tempi moderni.

From Bizarre Magazine(by Kate Hodges)

  English folk music has long been stereotyped as fiddly-diddly-jig nonsens, and its more sinister, darker traditions smothered. But this album gathers heretics and pagans from the crannies of England to sing solstices, crows and long-forgotten rituals. But with a cheeky nod to more modern culture in titles such as 'The Wicker Man', and band names such as The Owl Service, this plays like the soundtrack to some long-forgotten, flickery Hammer Horror film.

From Aquarius Records:

  There's really nothing 'freak folky' going on in this British folk compilation. The music here is all pretty traditional. And thus pretty fantastic. Think Incredible String Band, Steeleye Span, Comus, Richard Thompson (and Fairport Convention), Trees, C.O.B., Shirley Collins, or the Wickerman Soundtrack (there's actually a song called 'Wicker Man' by The Story). As much as we love us some freak folk, none of that stuff would exist it it weren't for the above mentioned bands. 

  And the groups included on this comp, whose focus here is the fairly abstract 'dark folk', do a pretty amazing job of sifting through the various strains of classic British folk, and offering up their own subtle interpretations. And again, nothing shocking or even that experimental, just a new generation of musicians, paying tribute to the music that they grew up on, and that informed the music they make now. A handful of AQ faves are present, the Story, Far Black Furlong, Alphane Moon, Sharron Kraus, Martyn Bates, as are the A Lords, the Kitchen Cynics, Sol Invictus, and tons and tons of bands we had never heard of: The Horses Of The Gods, The Triple Tree, Pumajaw, English Heretic, The Anvil, Electronic Voice Phenomenon, The Purple Minds Of Lazeron, Quickthorn, Sand Snowman, Stormcrow, While Angels Watch, Xenis Emputae Traveling Band, Drohne and we could go on and on. 
Two discs of glorious, classic sounding 'dark folk.' From lilting shanties, to tense ominous dirges, to brooding apocalyptic folk, to buzzing ragas, to dreamy lullabyes, fluttering flutes, fiddles and bongos, steel string guitars and an incredible array of vocal styles, male and female, raspy and weathered, wispy and dreamlike, mournful and melancholy, soft and breathy, dark doleful melodies, rich harmonies, weaving a gorgeous landscape of a lost sonic Britannica.

  Amazing liner notes too, text on the source of the title, an introduction and explanation to the compilation, various short pieces on folk music and the history of folk music from a handful of the artists on the comp, concerning their songs, their groups and their musical journeys, lyrics, reproductions of old woodcuts and more. So fantastic. And absolutely essential listening for fans of freak folk, dark folk and seventies British folkmusic.

From Blow Up(by Paolo Bertoni)

  Un più diretto tributo alla suddetta tradizione folk, in particolare alla sua componente più cupa, è la superba compilazione allestita da Cold Spring con la collaborazione di Woven Wheat Whispers. Nell’ultimo decennio questo immenso patrimonio popolare è stato massicciamente riscoperto in Gran Bretagna, ed una miriade di formazioni e solisti sta rinnovando, senza clamori, fondamentalmente irrilevanti, i fasti di canzoni che portano con sé profumo di invincibile eternità. Devota soggezione ed assoluto rispetto dei tradizionali qui ripresi - forse appena English Heretic in Hippomania, Xenis Emputae Travelling Band con una mistica John Barleycorn: His Life, Death And Resurrection voce/harmonium e While Angels Watch in una tempestosa ed avvincente Obsidian Blue si spingono oltre - accomunano i partecipanti a questo sampler sia che provengano da radici prettamente folk sia le abbiano riafferrate dopo aver percorso strade diverse, ma solo apparentemente più tortuose, come nel caso di Sol Invictus, con Tony Wakeford presente anche nella sigla The Triple Tree, Andrew King, Sieben, Peter Ulrich, i citati While Angels Watch e lo stesso Bates.

From Evening Of Light(by O.S.)

  Where to begin with an absolutely massive compilation like this? Well, it all started with Mark Coyle's Woven Wheat Whispers label, which started in late 2005. Since then, he has managed to gather an impressive number of artists to his MP3-only label, covering the broad area of underground modern folk music, ranging from traditional to folk rock, from neofolk to psychedelic folk, from mediaeval to pagan folk. Hundreds of albums have been (re-)released, and the scope of the label has become huge. All the more reason why an overview compilation like this one is very welcome. Not only does the first edition of the John Barleycorn Reborn series contain a host of great artists, this is only the tip of the iceberg, for as the subtitle gives away, only English artists have been featured on this album (with the unforseen exception of novemthree). More editions are to come, which will contain American artists, other European countries, and who knows what else?

  But, let's focus on this one first. In collaboration with English neofolk/post-industrial label Cold Spring, Woven Wheat Whispers has released the main part of the compilation on a fine 2CD set, contain well over two and a half hours of music. But, a WWW release wouldn't be complete without some free stuff. In this case, this means a huge MP3 supplement, freely downloadable if you've bought the CDs. It contains a further two and a half hours of music, making the total running time of the set over five hours - now there's value for money.

  But, the value is not only in quantity, but also in quality, as there are so many great artists from various subareas of the folk world featured on this compilation. Even more so here than anywhere else, it would be a fool's errand to try and give an in-depth review of every track. As it as, I'll try and pick out the highlights, while giving a taste of the diversity contained in here at the same time. Of course, this compilation wouldn't be complete without renditions of the traditional song that gave it its name: "John Barleycorn". Both CDs start with a version of this classic, and The Horses of the Gods and The Anvil both pull it off convincingly and originally. Other traditionals also feature on the album, such as "Lay the Bent to the Bonny Broom" by Charlotte Greig and Johan Asherton, who deliver a long, intimate rendition of this cruel ballad. Clive Powell's "Reed Sodger" is based on various pieces of traditional rhyme, and features Clive's unique voice over subtle electronics. The omnipresent (but rarely dull) "Twa Corbies" is here executed by pyschedelic folkrockers Mary Jane, who turn this track into a quite funky affair. "Pew Pew" is a Scottish traditional text, here set to harp and recorder by Quickthorn, featuring the vocals of Prydwyn. But, one of my absolute favourites has to be Venereum Arvum's version of "Child 102", the ballad of the birth of Robin Hood. Sean and Rachel's vocals soar in unison above subtle accompaniment, letting the beauty of the melody speak for itself convincingly.

  Also the non-traditional tracks contain some great stuff. The English division of neofolk can't be left out here, of course, and least of all Tony Wakeford's Sol Invictus, who come with a brand new track, representative of the band's recent experimental direction. This is equally true of The Triple Tree, where Tony collaborates with Andrew King. "Three Crowns" is a dark track combining acoustic soundscapes with obscure folkloric themes (in this case from an M.R. James story). Andrew King solo is a guarantee for traditional song delivered with conviction, and based on proper research, and his version of "Dives and Lazarus" is no exception. This is a re-recorded version of the track which originally appeared on the split with Changes. Matt Howden's Sieben is also featured with a remix of a track from Ogham Inside the Night; a fine example of his original violin 'n' vocals approach to folky modern song. Finally, there's While Angels Watch, with a not totally convincing track, which nevertheless has a very nice atmosphere and development.

  But there's so much more going on here I just have to mention. Damh the Bard delivers a rousing piece of pagan folk on "Spirit of Albion". The Kitchen Cynics' "The Guidman's Ground" is a song based on spacy guitar, accompanied by subtle vocals telling a rather dark folk narrative. "Summerhouse" by The A. Lords is a wonderfully serene piece of pastoral music, based on guitar, organ, and field recordings. The ever impressive Sharron Kraus comes with the very nice little "Horn Dance". More esoteric things are happening with Alphane Moon, who offer a brilliant mix of semi-gregorian singing and the mystic acoustic sounds we've come to expect from these people at Oggum Records. Even more occult is English Heretic, of course, as always exploring obscure folkloric subjects, and presenting the results in the form of experimental music, here with electric guitar freakiness, wild vocals, drums, and samples. "Stained Glass Morning" by Sand Snowman is a great piece of psychedelic folk, combining superb acoustic guitar melodies with soothing female vocals.

  And that was just the first 2CD part of the collection! If you get this album, be sure to get the free MP3 download as well, because there are quite some hidden gems in there as well. Of course, no time to mention them all, but here's the ones that stuck with me most. First of all, Far Black Furlong present a wonderful epilogue (again with great oboe work) to the already excellent The East Room album, also on Woven Wheat Whispers. Odd one out is American novemthree, who nevertheless brings two convincing instrumental track of his foresty folk with nice percussion. Alan Trench and Martyn Bates' Twelve Thousand Days presents "Thistles", a wonderful track from their 2006 album From the Walled Garden. Other work of Trench's is also featured, with nice tracks by Orchis and Cunnan. Paul Newman's "Lavondyss" is a very good melancholic track on vocals and acoustic guitar. We also get a very nice selection of tunes from some of England's finest mediaeval artists, such as The Daughters of Elvin and Steve Tyler. Best of all is Misericordia's "De Poni Amor A Me", a superb song based on hammered dulcimer, hurdy-gurdy, and bagpipes.

  I haven't mentioned all, of course, and this is not the place for an even more in-depth approach. It doesn't mean the unmentioned tracks aren't good or interesting, of course, because this compilation has a very consistent quality level. What's also not mentioned yet is that in addition to a load of great music, John Barleycorn Reborn also has a very firm folkloric concept. A selection of artists, as well as project initiator Mark Coyle have written short contributions in the booklet, to clarify their feeling towards this compilation, and towards the new folk revival that is being documented by it. For I believe a revival is a correct term. Folk music and lore has served as an inspiration to many artists over the past two decades or so, John Barleycorn Reborn is one of the first to provide an overview of at least a part of this area of music so full of original approaches. I firmly believe that this set and its followers will serve as a monument to this revival, and I imagine myself looking back to this in a couple of decades with a sense of nostalgia. I commend Woven Wheat Whispers and Cold Spring for putting this together for us, and I'm looking forward to the followups. Anyone who wants to know what's happening in underground folk music these days should absolutely get this treasure trove! Even for those who knew many of the artists already, there is loads to discover.

From Vital Weekly / Earlabs(by NMP)

  One of my favourite compilations was released back in 1999. "Succour : The Terrascope Benefit Album" was an album released to economically support the legendary experimental music magazine Ptolemaic Terrascope. Though the approach on this new compilation released on Cold Spring is different there is some similarity to aforementioned "Succour"-compilation. Both compilations have a great folkloric atmosphere saturating throughout the album. On new double disc compilation from British label Cold Spring Records, titled "John Barleycorn Reborn: Dark Britannica" the folkloric expression is completely dominating. And the result is a deeply inspiring musical experience. With a running time of more than 150 minutes, the album presents 33 projects spanning from completely unknown to folk noir-legends such as Sol Invictus. "Dark" refers to a historical unknown period of Great Britain. More precisely "Dark Britannica" means dark folk of Britannica referring to the fact that all tracks on the compilation have been derived from a time in British history that has been completely forgotten. Each of the contributing artists has done a very nice job making this "music of the forgotten past" speak its very own language in the age of present time. With deep respect to the ancient folkloric expression the interpretations emerges into modern expressions spanning from neo-folk across modern psychedelia to ethereal space rock. "JOHN BARLEYCORN REBORN : DARK BRITANNICA" is an extremely beautiful voyage back to the days of dark British folk.

From Obliveon(by MK)

  In Zusammenarbeit zwischen dem englischen Cold Spring-Label und Woven Wheat Whispers, einem Download-Service für traditionelle britische Folk-Musik, entstand diese Zusammenstellung vornehmlich düster gehaltener, traditioneller englischer Folk-Songs. Wer im Laufe der Jahre aufmerksam Interviews mit Neofolkgrössen wie Current 93, Death in June oder Sol Invictus gelesen hat, wird dabei immer auf Verweise der englischen Folk-Szene gestossen sein, und genau dieser trägt „:John Barleycorn Reborn: Dark Britannica“ Rechnung. Auf einer Doppel-CD finden sich hier eine Vielzahl von Künstlern wieder, die nie gross in das Blickfeld der Öffentlichkeit geraten sind, aber dennoch die oben genannten Bands in der einen oder anderen Form beeinflusst haben. Alleine die Tatsache, dass auch Bands wie Sieben, Andrew King, Peter Ulrich, While Angels Watch oder Sol Invictus hier ebenfalls vertreten sind, zeigt nicht nur die enge Verbindung zwischen der Tradition des englischen Folksongs und zeitgenössischer, vom Folk beeinflusster Musik, sondern auch die Tatsache, dass diese Bands stilistisch sich ihrer Vergangenheit bewusst sind und mit ihren Songs auch nicht aus dem Kontext dieses Albums fallen. Hier nun einzeln auf alle vertretenen Künstler mit ihren Songs einzugehen, würde sicher den Rahmen dieser Rezension definitiv springen, doch wer sich den Ursprüngen von Neofolk oder Apocalyptic Folk annähern will, kommt an dieser umfangreichen und musikalisch aussergewöhnlichen Compilation mit all ihren unterschiedlichen Facetten ganz sicher nicht vorbei.

From Feindesland:

  Die Briten, ein komisches Völkchen, welches traditionell über Gebräuche verfügt, die wir die Europäer auf dem Festland nicht nachvollziehen können (oder nicht wollen?). Wer schmiert sich schon säuerliche Marmelade zum Frühstück auf sein Brötchen, isst Schafsinnereien zum Mittagessen, trinkt pünktlich um fünf Uhr Tee und rennt am Abend in Pub, um sich schnellst möglichst die Lampen anzuzünden (Nicht zu vergessen, der ordentliche Streit über Fußball, der gelegentlich in einer wilden Keilerei endet!)? Vorurteile? Nein, nur der normale Wahnsinn auf der Insel!
Meiner Person scheint, dass die Briten über kein eigenes bzw. ausgewiesenes Wohnzimmer in ihren Häusern verfügen und deshalb die meiste Freizeit ihres Lebens in der Kneipe verbringen. Zu der zünftigen Trinkkultur gehören natürlich Whisky und das Frischbier (Warum lagern, wenn das Gebräu sofort in den Ausschank kann?). Wenn der Alkoholspiegel steigt, müssen zur Unterhaltung Folkkapellen auf die Bühne, die altertümliches Liedgut zum Besten geben. Die Ballade "John Barleycorn" darf natürlich im Repertoir der Musikanten nicht fehlen, die angeblich 1588 niedergeschrieben wurde und nicht im Original von Robert (bei den Briten besser unter Robbie bekannt) Burns (1759 - 1796) stammt. Um Ihnen einen Einblick in das Volklied "John Barleycorn" zu verschaffen, hier der komplette Text:

There was three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.
They took a plough and plough'd him down,
Put clods upon his head,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.
But the cheerful Spring came kindly on,
And show'rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surpris'd them all.
The sultry suns of Summer came,
And he grew thick and strong;
His head weel arm'd wi' pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.
The sober Autumn enter'd mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Show'd he began to fail.
His colour sicken'd more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.
They've taen a weapon, long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then tied him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.
They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgell'd him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turned him o'er and o'er.
They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim;
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim.
They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe;
And still, as signs of life appear'd,
They toss'd him to and fro.
They wasted, o'er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller us'd him worst of all,
For he crush'd him between two stones.
And they hae taen his very heart's blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.
John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
'Twill make your courage rise.
'Twill make a man forget his woe;
'Twill heighten all his joy;
'Twill make the widow's heart to sing,
Tho' the tear were in her eye.
Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne'er fail in old Scotland!

  Sie sehen die Zeilen und finden ein Stück vor, welches definitiv den Durst fördert. Diesem Relikt aus alten vergangenen Tagen nahm sich das Label Woven Wheat Whispers in Kooperation mit Cold Spring Records an und trommelte eine Heerschar von Künstlerinnen und Künstlern zusammen, um eine groß angelegte Huldigung zu vollziehen.

  Sie, die geneigte Kundschaft erhalten auf der Doppel CD "V.A. - John Barleycorn Reborn" eine Kompilation mit 33 Protagonisten, die Ihnen meine Wenigkeit nicht enthalten möchte: The Horses Of The Gods, The OWL Service, The Story, Damh The Bard, Mary Jane, Andrew King, The Triple Tree, Sol Invictus, Sieben, Sharron Kraus, Charlotte Greig & Johan Ashterton, Pumajaw, Peter Ulrich, Alphane Moon, English Heretic, Far Black Furlong, The Anvil, Tinkerscuss, The Straw Bear Band, Electronic Voice Phenomena, The Purple Minds Of Lazeron, Sand Snowmann, The A Lords, The Kitchen Synics, Quickthorn, Clive Powell, Venerum Arvum, Drohne, Stormcrow, Doug Peters, Whiles Angels Watch, Xenis Emptuae Travelling Band und Martyn Bates.

  Eine imposante Armee aus "berühmten" und unbekannten Akteuren, die hier durch die Bank feinste Folkmusik präsentieren im Gedenken an John Barleycorn.

  Diejenigen unter Ihnen, welche sich nach diesem "Folkmarathon" immer noch an der Theke festklammern, bekommen beim Kauf der Tonträger noch ein Zugang mitgeliefert, um sich den dritten Teil mit über 30 Aktivisten kostenlos bei Woven Wheat Whispers herunter zuladen. Hier die Auflistung der Damen und Herren, die Sie noch erwarten: Magpiety, The Story, Telling The Bees, David A Jaycock , Yealand Redmayne, Charlotte Greig and Johan Asherton, Steve Tyler, The Wendigo, The Owl Service, Far Black Furlong, Xenis Emputae Travelling Band, Sedayne, The Straw Bear Band, Novemthree, Paul Newman, James Reid, JefvTaon, Wooden Spoon, Big Eyes Family Players, Sundog, Clive Powell, Mac Henderson of Grand Union Morris, Cunnan, Orchis, Twelve Thousand Days, Novemthree, James Reid, Mary Jane, Daughters of Elvin, Venereum Arvum, The Anvil und The Sunshine People. Einige Bands bzw. Projekte stellten zwei Tondokumente zur Verfügung, deshalb tauchen gewisse Namen doppelt auf.

  Die schlichte aber stilvolle Aufmachung von "V.A. - John Barleycorn Reborn" bildet einen hervorragenden Rahmen, der sehr gut zum Gesamtkonzept passt.

  Eine Veröffentlichung, die Individuen anspricht, die das Flair einer schummerigen Spelunke in der Britannie lieben und gerne den alkoholhaltigen Getränken frönen. (15/15)

From Black Magazin(by M.G.)

  Das Weblabel Woven Hand Whispers ist eine Anlaufstelle für legale Downloads verschiedenster Arten von Folk. Als meines Wissens erster "freif-barer" Tonträger erscheint ein Album unter einem Projektnamen, der vielen etwas sagen sollte: John Barleycorn, ein Gedicht über die Herstellund (und Wirkung!) von Alkohol, ist (auch) immer wieder ais Restsput heidnischer Riten gedeutet worden, das legt das Zyklische, der darin beschriebene Kreislauf von Geburt und Tod nahe. Es mag eines der am häufigsten interpretierten Traditionals sein (von TRAFFIC und STEELEYE SPAN bis zu FIRE AND ICE und STONE BREATH). Im Konzept, das im Booklet ansatzweise dargelegt wird, wird betont, dass das auf den ersten Blick seltsam (anachronistisch) anmutende Adjektiv "dark" nicht musikalisch zu verstehen sei, sondern in einer ähnlichen Weise, wie in "Dark Ages" (mit dem in etwa der Zeitraum des frühes Mittelalters beschrieben wird), also eine Zeit, über die verhältnismäßig wenig bekannt ist, ebenso wie - wie postuliert wird - über die hier vorgestellte Musik der Künstler, die bisher noch nicht so sehr vom Fok-Revival haben profitieren können. Man findet Musik, die versucht, ursprüngliche Traditionslinien zu erkunden, aber gleichzeitig auch experimentelle Elemente integriert. Das Projekt ist also - um ein inflationär gebrauchtes Wort zu gebrauchen - "ambitioniert". Das der Compilation den Titel gebende Lied wird insgesamt dreimal vertont. Ansonsten orientieren sich eine Vielzahl der Künstler an traditionellem Material (MARY JANE interpretieren z.B. "Twa Corbies", Traditionals werden ebenfalls u.a. von Charlotte Grieg & Johan Asherton, PUMAJAW oder VENEREUM ARVUM vertont), andere der Beteiligten verwenden eigene Texte (z.B. THE STORY oder Tony Wakefords von M.R. James beeinflusste THE TRIPLE TREE), man hört Folk Rock von MARY JANE von Drehleier getragene Stücke, die sich dem Drone annähern (DROHNE), Melancholisches (SAND SNOWMAN), Experimentelleres (XENIS EMPUTAE TRAVELLING BAND, ENGLISH HERETIC), melodischen Folk (z.B. von der großartigen Sharron Kraus) und auch Unerwartetes (wie z.B. von Martyn Bates, der sich ja schon vor langem auf den drei Alben mit Mick Harris "Murder Ballads" widmete und dessen Stimme normalerweise unverkennbar in ihrer Fragilität und Entrücktheit ist, aber auf seinem Beitrag hier nur eine einsame Flöte erklingen lässt). Weitere Beteilgte sind z.B. der ehemalige DEAD CAN DANCE-Mitstrreiter Peter Ulrich, QUICKTHORN (bei denen STONE BREATH-Mitglied Prydwyn mitsingt) oder SOL INVICTUS, Manches ist etwas arg rückwärtsgewandt (THE OWL SERVICE oder DAMH THE BARD, der vielleicht unfreiwillig komisch wirkt), aber alles in allem ist das eine gerade wegen ihrer Heterogenität innerhalb gewisser Konstanten tolle und nie langwilende Veröffenlichtung. Auch wenn die Rezension leicht enumerativen Charakter hat (das mag in der Natur dieser Veröffenlichung liegen), sollte dennoch (oder gerade deswegen) deutlich geworden sein, dass innerhalb der Gattung Folk eine Menge möglich ist. Rob Young schreibt im WIRE (bezogen auf den Folk, der Anfang der 70er in Großbritannien virulent wurde) sinngemäß dass der Terminus - British Psychedelic Folk am besten dazu geeignet sei, das Spannungsfeld zwischen Bewahrung und Fortschreiten, Land und Stadt, Akustischem und Elektrischem, Selbstgesponnenem und Visonären zu beschreiben. Diese Reibung zwischen diesen (vermeintlichen) Gegensatzpaaren zeight sich auch auf "John Barleycorn Reborn" und das ist durchaus als Lob zu verstehen. Wer im sonst informativen Booklet Informationen zu den Künstlern un einzelnen Tracks vermisst, kann sich ein mehrseitiges pdf-file als Ergänzung von der eigens eingerichteten Website herunterladen - ebenso wie einen dritten Teil, auf dem weitere 33 (!) Tracks zu finden sind (soviel wie auf den ersten beiden CDs zusammen - ein erneuter Verweis auf das Zyklische?)

From Head Heritage(by Julian Cope)

  First, I'd like to discuss Cold Spring Records' superb double-CD JOHN BARLEYCORN REBORN: DARK BRITANNICA. Available at www.coldspring.co.uk this collection of 33 songs contains some exquisitely dark and eloquent performances mainly by artists I've never before heard. But, like the heathen folk of Waldteufel, Werkraum and Sangre Cavallum, these new performances of such hoary standards as 'John Barleycorn Must Die' and 'North Country Maid' have brought their very essences back to life. My favourites at the present time are most definitely Andrew King's cadaverous delivery of 'Dives & Lazarus' and the tragic eight minutes of Charlotte Greig's epic 'Lay the Bent to the Bonny Broom', which brought me to tears the first coupla times I listened. What a baby!

From Twilight Zone(by Michele Viali)

  Questo doppio CD è un’iniziativa che esula dagli album di cui siamo soliti parlare, è anche piuttosto lontana dai generi cari alla scena underground, è insomma un unicum di cui si prende oneri e onori la label Cold Spring in collaborazione con la Woven Wheat Whispers, di cui vi raccomando una visitina nel sito web. Tutti o quasi conoscono il mito di origine tardo medievale riguardante John Barleycorn e questo nome tiene a battesimo la release non a caso, dato che il riferimento musicale e testuale è proprio diretto al folk dell’età oscura inglese (la definizione di “Dark Britannica” è quindi indirizzata al quel periodo, non a stili musicali o occultismi). Appunto con questa compilation John Barleycorn rinasce, e rinasce con lui un filone dimenticato dai grandi media. Tanti musicisti britannici in tempi recenti hanno interpretato il folklore della propria patria pur non ricevendo quell’attenzione che gli avrebbe fornito una maggiore notorietà. Questo lavoro mira a far luce su una realtà a cui è stato dato ancora poco spazio e ci istruisce su quel sottobosco che è cresciuto negli anni in una situazione di vero underground prendendo vita esclusivamente dal folklore locale. Ad un ampio numero di artisti sconosciuti si affiancano alcuni nomi di grande notorietà che di certo aiuteranno a promuovere l’iniziativa: su tutti i Sol Invictus che staccano di molto gli altri autori, grazie a una traccia sperimentale e oscura come (nonostante gli anni e gli acciacchi artistici) solo Wakeford sa fare. Interessante anche il brano di Tony Wakeford e Andrew King, uniti nella band The Triple Tree, insieme ad altri nomi importanti di contorno (John Murphy e Renée Rosen su tutti). Lo stesso King si presenta in veste di cantautore singolo con esiti che non si distaccano dagli standard a lui usuali. Presenti anche Matt Howden che con la sua creatura Sieben sa ben penetrare nell’ambiente old folk; Peter Ulrich, storico percussionista dei Dead Can Dance, costruisce un brano medievale rinforzato da una linea vocale elegante; i meno noti While Angels Watch percorrono le sonorità a loro più care con andamenti tribali e marziali non deludendo le attese; menziono in ultimo tra i “famosi” Martyn Bates (ex Eyeless in Gaza) che, chiudendo l’opera con un assolo di flauto, ci riporta ad alcune atmosfere di film pasoliniani come “I racconti di Canterbury”. Le celebrità creano il contorno ad una realtà che è tutta da scoprire. Tra i tanti folkers spiccano The Anvil con la cupa “John Barleycorn Must Die”, i suoni grezzi della The Straw Bear Band in “Trial by Bread & Butter” e Sharron Kraus che con “Horn Dance” riesce, forse nolente, a collegarsi con acts come Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud.

  Questo grande lavoro andrebbe ascoltato a prescindere dai gusti musicali dato che ha una valenza divulgativa di grande portata, ma chi segue progetti come Sangre Cavallum, In Gowan Ring, Waldteufel o Sturmpercht troverà in “John Barleycorn Reborn” il perfetto punto di sutura tra la scena oscura e quella del folk classico. Aggiungo che negli ultimi anni il crescente interesse del settore alternativo (neofolk, neoclassicale certo post industrial in particolare) per le tradizioni e le identità locali ha portato alla riscoperta e valorizzazione di sonorità semi-dimenticate e questa compilation può essere vista anche come uno degli ideali punti di arrivo di una scena musicale che da tempo sta scavando nel proprio passato. Il discorso fu aperto (magari sfiorato) vari anni fa dai Current 93 e dai Fire and Ice, ma solo ora giunge a termine un vero e proprio compendio di british folk attuale per mano di una label underground.

From Dagheisha(by Roberto Michieletto)

  Parlare di tributo alla tradizione folk britannica è essenziale se consideriamo che la raccolta assembla ben 33 brani e viene pubblicata come lavoro congiunto dalla Cold Spring e dalla Woven Wheat Whispers, un sito web per il download legale di suoni folk e assimilati, su cui, tra l’altro, sarà disponibile la terza parte dell’opera complessiva (con le tre parti che testimoniano la nascita, la morte e la rinascita). Comunque già solo volendo considerare quanto offerto dal doppio CD non ci si può di certo lamentare, poiché i musicisti che hanno preso parte all’operazione di riscoperta della tradizione anglosassone sono tali da giustificare un evidente interesse per l’album, che prende il nome dalla più celebre delle suddette canzoni, ovvero ‘John Barleycorn’. Dall’ascolto (oltre due ore e mezza) emerge un vasto spettro di interpretazioni della musica rurale, naturale, mitica/mitologica, pagana, rituale, antica, bucolica e primitiva, poi diventata folk, ma la cui essenza originaria è ben lontana da quella che si cerca di sdoganare al giorno d’oggi con le derive neo folk e folk apocalittiche (l’aspetto politico non era assolutamente preso in considerazione, ma ci si legava ai cicli vitali della Natura) o Americana (dove le radici sono molto meno profonde, essendo di formazione posteriore). Il suono assume sembianze mutevoli, pur se sufficientemente aderenti alla realtà storica (salvo nel caso degli English Heretic, che optano per soluzioni chitarristiche elettrificate), con un sentito e profondo coinvolgimento dei gruppi, tra cui citerei The Owl Service, Andrew King, Sol Invictus, Sieben, Pumajaw, Peter Ulrich, Electronic Voice Phenomena, Sand Snowman, The Kitchen Cynics, Drohne, Stormcrow, While Angels Watch e Martyn Bates. Pregevole.

From Fatea Records:

  Folk music is as old as the hills, as dark as the night. It flows like a mountain stream and sparkles in the sun. It tells of murder and death. Sex and the babies born, in and out of wedlock. Hard tales of lives striving to make a living. John Barleycorn Reborn is project concieved and delivered by Cold Spring and Wild Wheat Whispers. It's a double cd and an additional download and is one of the best compilations you'll hear in a while. It's subtitled "Dark Britannica", but sheds light on Albion's pagan past as well as neo-pagan themes. A celebration of life on these shores.

From Judas Kiss(By Lee Powell)

  There are a number of different angles which this review could have come from. From the traditional folk side of things, or perhaps even the neo-folk direction. However, neither seemed to fit properly, so we’ll start somewhere in the middle and see where it takes us.

  Released as a joint project between the hugely influential post-industrial record label Cold Spring and Woven Wheat Whispers, a legal folk and related music download provider, ‘John Barleycorn Reborn’ is a two-CD set collecting together 33 artists (in this set), each presenting one track apiece of dark British folk.

   Comprising three parts (of which this compilation delivers two thirds, with the final part of the life, death, rebirth cycles being available as a download to purchasers of this compilation), ‘JBC’ is a wide and varied exploration of contemporary British artists who work somewhere within the darkened confines of traditional British folk music with hugely impressive results.

  With an amalgamation of both traditional and original songs, the main purpose of the compilation is to showcase the charm and passion that this sub-genre of folk music contains, and show how, amidst the throes of the endless other styles and genres of music available, something so deeply rooted in the past can still have such a strong relevance in the modern world.

  Being released on Cold Spring, there was some worry that a release that was predominately folk would perhaps alienate some of the label’s hardened followers. However, with careful consideration and skilful inclusion, a small number of more neo-folk and alternative names have been delicately interwoven in the fabric of the release, which adds a welcoming hand out to those of you, like myself, who are approaching this release with a wider knowledge of the neo-folk/folk noir genres than anything else under the banner of folk. Andrew King, Sol Invictus, The Triple Tree (Andrew King and Tony Wakeford of Sol Invictus), Sieben and While Angels Watch are all represented, and their inclusion is very welcome, as is that of Peter Ulrich (of Dead Can Dance). However, even before you reach any of these artists, it’s immensely difficult not to be swept up with the atmosphere emanating from the plethora of others offering up their own interpretations of dark folk, with disc one exemplifying this perfectly. In fact, the infectious nature of the first five tracks, including the phenomenally catchy and rousing ‘Spirit of Albion’ by Damh The Bard, acts as quite simply a perfect introduction to the dark folk genre, and to what is rapidly shaping up to be a wonderfully enjoyable and highly interesting release.

  Encompassing a myriad of styles under the dark folk umbrella, ‘John Barleycorn Reborn’ takes the listener on a journey to discover times long forgotten, with a passion and intimacy which makes the exploration of these two discs a deeply satisfying journey. It’s wonderful to hear such a diverse range of styles, from the conventional folk that you’d expect, to the more modern-tinged works, to those with a psychedelic edge and a few with a touch of the unconventional, with experimental, even dark ambient-esque touches. Each track keeps you in your toes without being repetitive or samey.

  Of course, as with any compilation there are some tracks which stand out, and some which just seem a little too dirgy. But with 33 artists being represented, this is bound to happen. Tastes vary from listener to listener, so this can’t be construed as too much of a negative aspect at all.

  That said, there are a couple of little niggles I have about this release. The first is the lack of information regarding each artist here. Instead of being included on the liner notes, you’re pointed to the compilation’s accompanying website. Not the biggest gripe in the world, but I would have liked to see this info with the CD. The second (and again, no biggy) is the fact that the third and final part of the album’s cycle is available as a download only. Personally, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, I hate downloading music. I feel that if part three of this set is as essential as the other parts of the compilation, then it should have been included as a physical disc. Griping over.

  As a collection of dark folk music, ‘John Barleycorn Reborn’ delivers a compellingly diverse and highly enjoyable set of recordings, opening up the genre to whole swathes of new listeners, who I’m sure will relish what they hear. And for those who are already familiar with this sub-genre of the folk scene, it delivers a brilliantly put together set of recordings, which capture the essence of folklore and tales of old wonderfully.

  At a time when alt-folk and Americana-tinged ballads are becoming more and more common-place in contemporary music, the timing of ‘JBR’ couldn’t be better. And I’m sure it will deliver a great many hours of listening pleasure, as well as serving as an introduction to a huge range of new artists, for those who explore the two chapters that make up this release.

  With rumours afoot of a Part Two in the pipeline, hopefully this is just the first release of many to explore this dark cousin of the folk movement. 

From Chain D.L.K.(By Maurizio Pustianaz)

  Created from the collaboration of Cold Spring and Wowen Wheat Whispers (a legal download service of folk and related music reachable at www.wovenwheatwhispers.co.uk) JOHN BARLEYCORN REBORN is a comprehensive compilation of modern British folk music. The double compilation contains 33 different bands/tracks but there's also a downloadable third part for whom who bought the double CD or downloaded it, with further 33 songs. It's hard to describe well what you can find into this compilation because each band, even if they could be filed as folk, give their personal interpretation of folk music. You can find echoes of classic folk music (with flutes, female vocals and strings), folk rock (I know a couple of bands active in the 70's because my brother had some of their tapes: The Pentangle and Steeleye Span and some of these remembered those two) but also experimental, psychedelic and post punk influences (check Clive Powell, English Eretic and While Angels Watch). There are bands known to the neo-folk people thanks to two Tony Wakeford's projects (Sol Invictus and The Triple Tree) and Martyn Bates. I appreciated a lot the whole atmosphere and the way the bands approached the sounds and the themes. You must know that beside the music, JOHN BARLEYCORN REBORN is a project really linked to English people's roots because John Barleycorn is the character of a traditional folk song. From Wikipedia: "...is a personification of the important cereal crop barley, and of the alcoholic beverages made from it, beer and whisky. In the song, John Barleycorn is represented as suffering attacks, death, and indignities that correspond to the various stages of barley cultivation, such as reaping and malting. Some have interpreted the story of John Barleycorn as representing a pagan practice It has also been suggested that John Barleycorn, or rather an early form of the song, may have been used by the early church in Saxon England to ease the conversion of pagans to Christianity from their native Anglo-Saxon polytheism. The reasoning behind this idea is that John Barleycorn represented the ideology of nature cycles, spirits and the harvest of the pagan religion (and may have represented human sacrifice also) but that the song was Christianized in order to show John Barleycorn as a Christ-like figure. Barleycorn, the personification of the barley, encounters great suffering before succumbing to an unpleasant death. However, as a result of this death bread can be produced; therefore, Barleycorn dies so that others may live. Finally his body will be eaten as the bread. Compare this with the Christian concepts of the Sacrament and of Transubstantiation and it is not difficult to imagine how the song might have been beneficial to Christianity. A popular hymn, "We Plough the Fields and Scatter", is often sung at Harvest Festival to the same tune. As shown above, the point of the tale told by the original versions is twofold: it focuses not only on the death and resurrection of John Barleycorn, but also on Barleycorn's revenge upon the tradesmen who misused him".

  Reading this we can understand that the character of John Barleycorn is a multifaceted one with many meanings, from pagan to agricultural. It gathers the life cycle and it help people bonding under his tale.

  JOHN BARLEYCORN REBORN is the first project of this kind and other will come

From Folkforum:

  Dit dubbelalbum geeft een leerzaam - maar zeker ook luisterbaar - inkijkje in wat de Britse dark folk inhoudt. De alternatieve platenmaatschappijen Cold Spring en Woven Wheat Whispers hebben de handen ineen geslagen en laten je kennis maken met de donkere kant van de Britse folk. Leitmotiv bij de samenstelling van dit bijzondere document was ‘seasonal birth, death and rebirth'. Drieëndertig nummers van evenveel groepen of solisten - de een bekender dan de ander - die een mysterieus ver verleden naar nu vertalen.

  En dan gaat om een ver verleden waarover nauwelijks iets op papier staat: The Dark Ages, de tijd tussen het vertrek van Romeinen en de komst van de Saxen zo'n vijftien eeuwen geleden. 

  Je zou denken dat de donkere sound, die nogal wat van deze neofolk kenmerkt, heeft geleid tot de term dark folk. Maar volgens de samenstellers is dat een misverstand. Dark stamt toch echt van Dark Ages, verzekeren zij. Het uitstekend gedocumenteerde CD-boekje bevat nog veel meer van dit soort wijsheden in de vorm van artikelen, essays en citaten. 

  Twee-en-een-half uur gaat het van akoestisch hapklaar tot uitdagend experimenteel. Soms gewoon met gitaar, dulcimer of concertina, maar meer nog met behulp van elementen uit progressieve en experimentele muziek, vaak omgeven met de nodige mystiek. Natuurlijk komen alle cliché's voorbij: manhaftige zang, elfenstemmen, onheilspellende natuurgeluiden als onweer en gure windvlagen, belletjes, veel reverb/galm, feedback, echo, etc. Maar, opgelet, dit dubbelalbum bevat ook muziek die dicht tegen de gangbare Britse folk aanschuurt.

  Een enkele keer raakt het aan de folkrock á la het ‘oude' Fairport zoals in ‘Twa Corbies' van Mary Jane. Meer nummers sluiten aan bij het bekende akoestisch idioom. Enigszins gedateerd (leuke term in dit verband) klinkt het nog in ‘Horn Dance' van Sharron Kraus bij gildetrom, blokfluit en belletjes, of in ‘Dragonfly' door het fluitje en de dulcimer van The Purple Minds Of Lazeron. Prangender wordt het in het bijna acht minuten breed uitgesponnen ‘Lay The Bent To The Bonny Broom' van Charlotte Greig & Johan Asherton met akoestische gitaar en fraaie zang.

  Luister ook eens naar ‘Dives and Lazarus' met Martin Carthy-achtige zang van Andrew King (met de talentvolle Lisa Knapp op viool), of de fraaie samenzang van het echtpaar Rachel McCarron en Sean Breadin bij breekbare en ijle fluitjes, harp, belletjes, driesnarige lier en crwth (lier uit Wales) in het breed uitgesponnen ‘Child 102: Willie and Earl Richard's Daughter' (aka The Birth of Robin Hood).

  Nog intrigerender is de bekende traditional ‘Nottamum Town' door de vervormde psychedelische draailier van Philip G. Martin bij zijn in echo gedoopte stem à la de legendarische Doors-zanger Jim Morrison.

  Onder het hoofdstuk weird valt het werk van The Tripple Tree (Three Crowns) en Sol Invictus (To Kill All Kings). Vervormde violen tillen de remix ‘Ogham On The Hill' van Sieben daar bovenuit. Sieben staat voor violist/zanger Matt Howden, die ook deel uitmaakt van Sol Invictus. Vaneenzelfde hoog niveau is het verstilde ‘Pew Pew' van Quickthorn met vervreemdende zang van Prydwyn bij fraaie harp (Ysbyddaden Bedwawd) en blokfluiten (Koivuläänistä).

  Dan kom je al dichter bij de donkerder experimenten. 

  Van de groep met de vreemdste naam ‘Xenis Emputae Travelling Band' klinkt er nagenoeg dissonante koorzang bij een drone op concertina. Theatrale ‘sprechgesang' in een mist van overstuurde gitaren vol feedback staat voor ‘Hippomania' van English Heretic, een angstaanjagend werkje dat het goed zou doen in een spooktent op de Efteling. Zoals de attractie Droomvlucht daar wel zou varen bij de soundscape ‘Summerhouse' van The A Lords vanwege alle lieve belletjes, fluitjes, klokken, getokkelde snaren en fluitende vogeltjes... 

  Zware galm op het tinwhistlespel in ‘The Resurrection Apprentice' suggereert de echo uit een ver verleden, maar Martyn Bates is toch echt van nu, dat wil zeggen hij wordt al vanaf de jaren 70 gerespecteerd als zanger, tekstschrijver en muzikant in alternatieve rock (Eyeless in Gaza), neo-folk (Twelve Thousand Days) en ambient (Troum). Solo bracht hij ook al een tiental albums met boeiende vaak bewerkte duistere traditie, maar ook eigenzinnig eigen werk. 

  Afijn, je kunt niet elk nummer omschrijven, laat staan de verrassing die je uiteindelijk nog te wachten staat. Want mocht na deze 2 cd's je nieuwsgierigheid zijn gewekt, dan kun je op internet het derde deel gratis downloaden (zie www.wovenwheatwhispers.co.uk). Dat bevat nog eens 33 nummers, zowel van op dit dubbelalbum figurerende namen als van nieuwe. Uiteindelijk gaat het met 2cd en download samen om meer dan vijf uur muziek. Er valt genoeg te ontdekken.

  En voor de liefhebbers die al langer thuis zijn in de dark folk is het goed te weten dat de uitvoeringen van de meeste nummers op ‘John Barleycorn Reborn' nog niet eerder op elpee of cd zijn verschenen. 

From Ultrasonica:

  John Barleycorn doveva morire, almeno nelle intenzioni dei Traffic. E probabilmente lo ha fatto, dopo lunghe sofferenze, come un simbolo, come un Cristo britannico, come il ciclo delle stagioni ed i riti a questo collegati. Poi, nei campi di grano qualcosa torna a germogliare, e ad opera della Cold Spring Records John Barleycorn torna in vita e sussurra attraverso le voci e gli strumenti dei trentatrè invitati alla cerimonia di resurrezione imbastita nell'operazione importante e ambiziosa di questa compilation in doppio cd. E per dirla in sincerità, "Dark Britannica" è un pezzo che deve stare nella nostra collezione, anche qualora il folk – tradizionale e contemporaneo – non sia in cima alle nostre playlist, perché semplicemente questo è un bell'album. La precisazione fatta nelle note di copertina è corretta e programmatica: il termine dark non riferisce necessariamente al mood del lavoro, ma a quella dark age che va dalla dipartita romana all'arrivo dei Sassoni. Simbolicamente pubblicato a Lammas – il giorno del primo raccolto – questo doppio album raccoglie un nutrito gruppo di artisti che devono la propria identità musicale al patrimonio folkloristico britannico. Apre le danze proprio la proposta del tema tradizionale "John Barleycorn" ad opera del duo The Horses of the Gods, ed il leit motiv è messo in chiaro in tutta la sua bellezza ancestrale. Poi, le cerimonie passano di mano e si colorano di volta in volta di toni solari o notturni, maestosi o delicati, sofferenti o gioiosi. Scorre la bellezza pastorale di Damh the Bard con "Spirit of Albion", la mistica tormentata dell'immancabile Sol Invictus con "To Kill all Kings", il legame tra tradizione ed innovazione di "Hippomania" proposto da English Heretic. E ancora, l'elegia notturna sussurrata da Electronic Voice Phenomena in "The Sorrow of Rimmon", il digitale che s'insinua tra le pieghe del rurale di Clive Powell, le declamazioni ipnotiche di Drohne, la poesia scarna del fondamentale Martyn Bates. E molto, molto altro ancora. Non è un album da scaricare, anche per il corredo informativo compreso nel layout, ma soprattutto perché è un prodotto da acquistare. Non prenderà polvere.

From Terrascope(by Jeff Penczak)

  Accompanied by a massive, 16-page booklet of background essays and interpretive guidelines, as well as a lovingly detailed, 24-page track annotation manual, 'John Barleycorn Reborn' is an incredible 51⁄2-hour, 4xCD set comprised of a formal 2xCD package and an additional 2xCD’s worth of mp3’s available for free download by purchasers of the main set, all compiled by Woven Wheat Whispers founder, Mark Coyle for Cold Spring Records. The album explores the mythos of the John Barleycorn legend across more than 60 tracks, divided into three parts: “birth,” “death” and “rebirth”, from nearly as many diverse “artists largely unknown who make unconventional folk music across Britain.” While some of the artists will be familiar to regular attendees of the Terrastock festivals and readers of the Terrascope, both the online and print editions (Sharron Kraus, Kitchen Cynics, Martyn Bates, Mary Jane, Alphane Moon, et. al), it must be acknowledged that many of these artists are new to me, despite the fact that quite a few are several albums deep into their careers. The beauty of a collection such as this, is that it offers the adventurous listener an opportunity to both discover new artists, while simultaneously being educated about the rich traditional folk song heritage of Britain, via songs whose original documentation stretches back several centuries. For that alone, Coyle and his compadres are to be congratulated. With all the work that has been poured into the set’s accompanying documentation, I’ve elected to concentrate my comments on the songs themselves, leaving their background stories to be gleaned at your leisure. Suffice it to say that this set is one of the most detailed packages you will ever own, with enough heritage for some clever scholars to build either a PhD thesis around, or at least construct a popular Music course for university credit!

  So, having whet your appetite for this lovely trip down through the “dark” ages of British agricultural history, let’s have a listen to what’s inside. With titles like ‘The Wicker Man,’ ‘Spirit of Albion,’ ‘The Scryer and The Shewstone,’ ‘Scythe To The Grass,’ ‘The Wendigo’ and other more esoteric references like ‘Corvus Monedula,’ ‘Tierceron,’ ‘Ognor Mi Trovo, ‘De Poni Amor A Me,’ and ‘Ca The Horse, Me Marra,’ you’d be forgiven for heading for the proverbial hills in the West Country with a stack of Julian Cope’s ‘Modern Antiquarians’ under your arm and a gunnysack full of mead across your backs to fully absorb this collection’s impact. But don’t let that frighten you off – this is not a bunch of Burning Man rejects running naked through the fields trying to reconstruct the Wicker Man. It’s perfectly clear that these musicians take their work very seriously, starting with Wiltshire’s own Horses of The Gods (Mike Ballard and Matty Bane) and their earthy, acoustic interpretation of the set’s namesake. If you only know Traffic’s version, this one will surprise you, as the fairly sparse arrangement seems bettter suited to relating the story than Traffic’s (admitedly transcendent) psychedelic, electric version.

  The Story is the duo of Martin Welham from cult 60’s psych folkies, Forest, and his son, Tom. Their excellent debut album ‘Tale Spin’ is the only original (i.e., non-reissue) release on the wonderful Sunbeam imprint and here they offer up a rousing rendition of the title track from the cult classic, ‘The Wicker Man.’ ‘Spirit of Albion’ is the title track from Damh the Bard’s current album, and it’s a proud, anthemic tribute to the ancient ways and gods of old Britain. Southampton’s Mary Jane are old Terrascope favorites and ‘Twa Corbies’ is their exclusive offering, another traditional song, highlighted by the powerful vocals of Jo Quinn, Steve Barker’s dynamic drumming, and the soaring, almost gypsy-like violin strokings of Gilli Hotson. Think, perhaps, Saint Joan with a medieval twist. Andrew King is another interesting artist who here sets the ancient Christian parable of Lazarus to an electric, droning backing (‘Dives and Lazarus), all powered by the mysterious fiddling of Lisa Knapp. King’s creaky, stentorian vocals, like a cobwebbed Ian Anderson, lends a note of archaic charm to his rendering of this dreary story. King is also a member of Tony Wakeford’s project, The Triple Tree, whose eerie, droning ‘Three Crowns’ is a retelling of the M.R.James short story, ‘A Warning To The Curious,’ which relates the myth of the endless quest to discover the whereabouts of the third buried crown which protects England. Wakeford, himself, is perhaps best known as the leader of the decades old folk noir band, Sol Invictus, who offer up more minimalist, razor sharp drones on the treasonous call to arms, ‘To Kill All Kings.’ And continuing the excellent sequencing that lends the collection a seemless air of one of your own personalized “mix tapes” of dark, traditional British folk tales, Sol Invictus violinist, Matt Howden is up next with his solo project, Sieben (German for ‘seven,’ although I’m not certain that that’s Howden’s preferred reference point). ‘Ogham On The Hill’ is on offer here, in an exclusive remixed version of a track from Howden’s fifth album, 2005’s ‘Ogham Inside The Night,’ and it’s a multi-layered violin/percussion extravaganza over which Howden relates the tale of the Western European holy scriptures which were preserved through carvings on trees and stones.

  Another Terrastock alum, Sharron Kraus is up next with an exclusive track from the sessions from her forthcoming album. ‘Horn Dance’ is the story of the seasonal dance that has been occurring for centuries at places such as Abbot’s Bromley, which the astute listener will no doubt recognise as the title of one of The Green Pajamas’ traditional instrumentals on their ‘Carolers’ Song’ EP. It’s also the official title (i.e., ‘The Abbot’s Bromley Horn Dance’) of the annual “Winter Solabration” that’s taken place on or near the winter solstice for the past 20 years in Denver, Colorado. Adding to Sharron’s realistic recreation of the tale is a field recording from David Moore on pipe and tabor, along with the Adderbury Morris Men, who presumably were dressed up in the traditional garb of a Fool, Hobby Horse, Maid Marian, Bowman, et. al.

  The British folk tradition includes scores of tales of knights wooing fair maidens, but none are as strikingly beautiful as ‘Lay The Bent To The Bonny Broom,’ a collaboration between one of Wales’ finest traditional artists, Charlotte Greig (whose ‘Quite Silent’ was one of our favorite releases from 2005) and French artist, Johan Asherton. Here she lends her delicate vocals to this heartbreaking tale (originally written down over three centuries ago) over Asherton’s simple, acoustic guitar backing. Peter Ulrich has a long and storied careeer dating back to his days as the percussionist in Dead Can Dance and contributor to 4AD’s This Mortal Coil project. His medieval two-step, ‘The Scryer and The Shewstone’ originally appeared on his 2005 album, ‘Enter The Mysterium,’ and it’s a jolly, pied piper of a track that’s led by an incessant melody from Debbie Marchant’s recorder. It regales us with the tale of Dr. John Dee, the mysterious court physician/magician to Queen Elizabeth I. Terrascope readers will also be familiar with the work of Dafydd Roberts and his wife, Ruth, purveyors of hauntingly strange experimental works from the Welsh hinterlands (well, Ceredigion) bearing enigmatic names like Our Glassie Azoth and Alphane Moon. They run the Oggum Record label, but have also released several fine, experimental, alchemical concoctions on Camera Obscura. Here they give us the relatively sedate (for them), but no less beautiful ‘Where The Hazel Grows,’ which has a hushed, almost liturgical air. The work of Prydwyn/Green Crown and B’Eirth/In Gowan Ring were the first pieces that sprung to mind.

  The second part of the set, ‘Death,’ is “themed to John Barleycorn’s symbolic death as Autumn turns to Winter at Samhain.” Nottingham’s Matt Fullwood (aka The Anvil) begins the death trip with a variation of the titular track entitled ‘John Barleycorn Must Die.’ Again, all preconceptions left over from Traffic’s version must be jettisoned to appreciate this rather crude recording, with distorted guitar backing and metalic percussive poundings emulating both Fullwood’s nom de group and the mortal and pestal sound of Mr. Barleycorn being ritualistically and symbolically ground into submission. Fans of Anne Briggs and Lal Waterson will marvel at the discovery of Liverpool’s Tinkerscuss (the duo of Erin and Brony Holden, who’ve been holding court in the Cotswalds for the past two decades), who cover Waterson’s ‘To Make You Stay’ from her ‘Bright Phoebus’ album. Soft vocals soar sweetly over the simple, acoustic backing, with the occasional chiming bell acompaniment. Another duo, Orphian and LSD, are the enigmatic artists behind Electronic Voice Phenomena, whose ‘The Sorrow of Rimmon’ is anogther eerie electronic, experimental folk composition that the pair refer to as “space folk,” although old schoolers may find a lot of the work of Delia Derbyshire and David Vorhaus’ White Noise (‘An Electric Storm,’ Island, 1968) cowering within.

  Pete Jardine and Dave Salsbury (aka The Purple Minds of Lazeron) combine acoustic guitars, bodhran, whistles and percussion on ‘Dragonfly,’ a playful little instrumental as light and meandering as the title suggests. With the assistance of the other worldly vocals of Moonswift, Sand Snowman paints the lovely acoustic ballad, ‘Stained Glass Morning’ and with the flower child monikers like those, you’d be right if you imagined the track to be the work of old hippies living on a commune sitting around in (stoned) circles singing poems to nature! From the Dorset Paeans Collective, sally forth The A. Lords, Nicholas Palmer and Mike Tanner, whose modus operandi is “making songs and instrumentals about Dorset recorded in natural surroundings.” A church organ, balalaika, dulcimer, glockenspiel and half dozen other esoteric instruments merge with field recordings of Dorset’s birdlife on the atmospheric instrumental, ‘Summerhouse,’ which is as soft and gentle as a summer’s afternoon nap in an English garden. Shhh…, don’t wake the little ones….

  One of our oldest and dearest friends here at the Terrascope is the prolific, Aberdeen-based songsmith Alan Davidson, who’s recorded practically an entire library’s worth of albums as The Kitchen Cynics. ‘The Guidman’s Ground’ is a prime example of one of his strongest suits: putting archaic stories on top of his heavily treated guitar backing. Quickthorn’s unpronounceable membership (Ysbyddaden Bedwawd on harp, Koivuläänistä on recorders and the aforementioned Prydwyn on vocals) belie their simple accompaniment to ‘Pew Pew,’ an almost hallucinogenic dreamscape that is hopefully a portent of more releases to come. Edinburgh resident Clive Powell has been recording improvised and archaic music with his cohort, Sedayne (more about whom in a moment), and his a capella rendition of the old Tyneside and Northumberland folk song ‘Reed Sodger’ gives you an idea of the type of May carols that were popular on the streets of Newcastle back in the day. And it probably doesn’t come any more traditional that Venereum Arvum’s ‘Child 102: Willie and Earl Richard’s Daughter (aka The Birth of Robin Hood),’ a 200-year old Scottish ballad set to a nearly 800-year old French melody! The band is the husband/wife duo of Sean Breadin (the aforementioned Sedayne) and Rachel McCarron and save for some esoteric instruments like kemence and crwth and Rachel’s drone, this is another a capella arrangement which highlights that popular style of storytelling that preserved the great myths of olde.

  I think you all will recognise the ancient melody of ‘Nottamun Town’ (a variation, I believe of Nottingham) – even Dylan nicked it (for ‘With God On Our Side,’ although that melody has also been atributable to the old Irish folk song, ‘The Merry Month of May’). Philip G. Martin (aka Drohne)’s interpretation on his hurdy-gurdy and wah-wah vibro drones is probably the most unique renditions I’ve heard to date, although I must also admit that Martin delivers one of the most spot-on Julian Cope impersonations I’ve heard to date! But I must caution the listener that the extended headswirling instrumental coda – sort of a duet between his drone and hurdy-gurdy machines – will have you popping seasickness pills like breath mints!

  Stormcrow is family project that’s new to me, but the strident, storming pronouncements on high from dual vocalists Amanda Hadlett and Sarah Jay, combined with the fierce, 12-string guitar strumming of Sarah’s dad (and, presumably Amanda’s brother), Mark instill ‘Gargoyle’ (from their 2005 ‘Celtic Twilight’ album) with a heavy dose of anthemic, Celtic pride. Imagine a female-fronted Alarm or Billy Bragg with ethnic, as opposed to political pride. Next we hear Doug Peters’ ‘Pact,’ an old fashioned folk song/story set to a powerful marching beat, and finally, our dear old Terrastock friend, Martyn Bates wraps up this “Death” trip with a new track from his forthcoming album, ‘The Resurrection Apprentice,’ wherein he combines his love of the traditional folk lore of the British Isles with his penchant for creating exciting, experimental psychedelic-tinged folk. Here, his solo on the pipes, recalls the centuries old tradition of beckoning John Barleycorn back into life...

  So, we’ve given you an extensive overview of the tracks included on this mammoth set, and there are about two dozen more ranging from field recordings to more esoteric, experimental and electronic folk. There are artists delving into psychedelic, pagan folk, wyrdfolk, and more folk lore set to music that is sure to please, intrigue and inspire every musical pallette. So if you have any interest at all in the British folk tradition from a historical perspective, or British folk music in general, I encourage you to pick up this peerless set, which history will no doubt one day acknowledge as one of the consummate releases in the genre, as well as the epitome of British traditional music in the 21st century. It also forms a magical companion to Timothy Renner’s definitive wyrdfolk compendium, ‘Hand/Eye.’

From Psychedelic Folk:

 What could be a better symbol for the deep traditions of British Isles folk but the song and image of “John Barleycorn”? The song is, first of all, one of the oldest folk songs in British folk repertoire - written down already in 1588- ; it knows several versions and numerous interpretations by many folk and folkrock bands. Secondly, it also refers to some of the oldest and longest living traditions in the UK, where “John Barleycorn” stands for a personification of the harvest of grain, in the way so that people felt more connected with a bond to all the things in nature they should know about, and feel it just like or at least compare it with a living entity, with a personification and name. This was a way of thinking, more than a belief, as long as people could get a grip on circumstances as long as it helped. Such ways of thinking only becomes a belief that is tested, when it does not work too well, making from it a religious or magic-paganistic tool. When the real bond with its purpose tends to get lost, a tool like this in such circumstances often tends to become more something with a religious aspect, something which in this case never happened. It remains in existence for a very long time under the form of folklore, connected with social activities that respected certain natural rhythms. It is this kind of folklore which in fact was something that knows several similarities and variations all over the world, depending on natural circumstances and dealing with what grows in a place. Unfortunately from such habits and associations, some places in the world leave little traces of their existence. In certain places anything that reminds outsiders of something similar becomes associated with carnavelsque folklore or otherwise is not recognised and more associated with a “primitive” nature or for them, long gone past, full of superstitions of beliefs. All activities around it also looks for them very “shamanistic”, with things like people dancing around fires with animal heads. Especially in Africa, Tibet and Finland,… we still knows these traces well, and at several places they indeed became interwoven with superstitions, at times of connecting dubious interpretations with new solutions so that it became a new form of manipulating truth, like a new form of magic, a mixed portioned shamanism or otherwise religion, based upon vague mistakes in thinking and ideas of how to restore them in a desired direction, but without feeling the underlying truth, well outside the after-effects of especially, its manipulation. Also in England some origins of folklore still exist but often also grew obscure and became darker by imagination and fears, stimulated also by associating them a bit too quickly with paganism or even “witchcraft” as an opposite to Christianized religion, as a fearful place of boundless free imagination, which says much more of how much we forgot the right, practical, loose-but-correct connections they originally had. People try to capture the original ideas or sometimes only images or ghosts of it again with personal creativity trying to enrich with imagination an empty bottle of connections in life with nature, using various angles now trying to fill in the gaps, with ideas that also include paganism, as well a pure personal world of imagination, however with no social context. In that way the individual interpretations tends to search something unique, by discovering their own creativity as honest as they can, to make the creation of any symbols rise up spontaneously. But these personal worlds are also dark, and left on their own.

 Mark Coyle took over a few years ago the lead over the wyrd folk newsletter Bruton Town (now New Bruton Town, with Tony Dale and me on the margins). A bit more recently he also established a folk and dronefolk download service called Woven Wheat Whispers. With his big interest in -Green Man related- old English folk traditions, it didn’t take too long before they started working on this compilation. They collected a 3 CDs full of material, and divided them into 3 parts reflecting the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Only two parts were published on the CD, while the third part is only available as an additional free download for those who purchase the first 2 parts.

  But why “Dark Britannia”? The light and bright mainstream folk starts from learning to repeat traditionals from books and hearing them from other groups performing. Other artists start to play acoustic music often with less awareness of traditional music, but also they also come to traditional music to inspire ; there is very much something of this in the British genes… And while the underground folk scene in the US gets support, because they are free to go and perform as they wish, the UK underground folk have less ways to go (just try to go to the US as a ‘musician’, and not as a tourist). The feeling of starting them from the underground while being aware of so many things, also in the UK there was started a neo-folk scene, lead by groups like Current 93 (not listed) and darker and more minimal people like Sol Invictus (listed twice). Besides neo-folk here’s also listed as just a handful of medieval folk groups (mostly hurdy-gurdy related) or groups playing old instruments (the Sedayne related projects). The true folk and the few folk-rock artists (Mary Jane) which are listed here are different from purists and traditionalists, because they find creative sound equally important. Their approaches are for me most rewarding, because they hold the middle well between inspiration, listening to sounds, and following structured traditions. Most of these lean gently towards the acidfolk genres. Especially a large part of CD1 featured many of these such artists. All tracks are enjoyable enough, some are really great. Alone for its hidden backgrounds, there’s a lot to keep you busy, and is worth researching. A fine compilation which gives you already a clue of the underground acoustic scene in the UK.

From Alternativ Musik(by Marius Meyer)

  Bezug nehmend auf die sagenumwobene Figur John Barleycorn aus dem britischen Folk erschien in einer Zusammenarbeit von Cold Spring Records und Woven Wheat Whispers nun eine Zusammenstellung, die sich der personifizierten Gerste und den daraus entstehenden Getränken widmet. Nachdem Jack London bereits ein Buch so betitelte (in Deutschland unter dem Titel König Alkohol erhältlich), nun also die Wiedergeburt des John Barleycorn auf einer ansprechenden Doppel-CD. Mit 33 Stücken auf über zweieinhalb Stunden ist die CD mehr als gut bestückt und deckt ein großes Spektrum an Folk und folkähnlichen Klängen ab.

  Geht man von Cold Spring und sonstigen dort erschienenen Veröffentlichungen aus, so ist diese Veröffentlichung so etwas wie ein Novum, denn diese Veröffentlichung beinhaltet weitaus mehr als Neofolk, sondern schlägt auch sehr in die traditionelle Kerbe. Dafür ist sie vielseitig und beinhaltet eine gute Umsetzung ihrer Thematik. Musikalisch wird dabei ein Brückenschlag von Bands, die typisch für das Cold Spring-Umfeld sind und solchen, die eindeutig der traditionellen Spielweise britischer Folklore zuzurechnen sind, geschafft. Bekannte Namen treffen auf heimliche Hits – diese Formel gilt vermutlich für Hörer aus beiden Richtungen. Auf der (zumindest für Leser dieser Seite) vermutlich bekannteren Seite sind Namen wie Sol Invictus, Andrew King und Sieben zu vernehmen, die allesamt ansprechende Beiträge abliefern, bei denen man nicht den Eindruck bekommt, es wären nur Verwertungen von nicht albumtauglichem Material.

  Richtig interessant wird es aber vor allem da, wo man die Namen noch nicht so oft oder sogar überhaupt nicht gehört hat bisher, lassen sich hier doch gleichermaßen Schönheit wie Unerwartetes entdecken. Ein heimlicher Hit begegnet beispielsweise auf der ersten CD in dem Zusammenspiel von Charlotte Greig und Johan Asherton, die gemeinsam den Titel Lay The Bent To The Bonny Broom beisteuern. Harmonisch gezupfte Gitarren mit dezenter Bass-Untermalung, alles akustisch gehalten, darüber sehr schöner Wechselgesang von Mann und Frau. Ein Stück, das Wärme ausstrahlt. Wie so viele auf dieser Zusammenstellung. Aber es wird auch – wie schon erwähnt – unerwartet, oder auch ungewöhnlich. John Barleycorn: His Life, Death And Resurrection von der Band mit dem unkonventionellen Namen Xenis Emputae Travelling Band fröhnt gelegentlich der Dissonanz und baut seltsame Klangsphären auf, nur um sich im Nachhinein dann doch wieder dem Folk zuzuordnen.

  Wie ersichtlich wird: Eine interessante Zusammenstellung, die viel beinhaltet. Es ist im Rahmen einer Rezension natürlich unmöglich, jeden Titel einzeln zu erwähnen. Nur soviel sei gesagt: Es lohnt sich! Wer diese Doppel-CD sein Eigen nennt, bekommt außerdem noch exklusiv Zugang zu einem dritten Teil, den man sich online herunterladen kann. Dieser beinhaltet weitere 33 Stücke, bei denen sowohl noch weitere Künstler zu finden sind als auch solche, die bereits auf der Doppel-CD beteiligt sind. Dadurch wächst die Zusammenstellung am Ende auf über fünf Stunden an. Dies ist zwar ein ziemlicher Superlativ, aber selbst wenn man nicht alles hört: Es gibt viel zu entdecken!

From Ultrasonica(by Jackie Low)

  John Barleycorn doveva morire, almeno nelle intenzioni dei Traffic. E probabilmente lo ha fatto, dopo lunghe sofferenze, come un simbolo, come un Cristo britannico, come il ciclo delle stagioni ed i riti a questo collegati. Poi, nei campi di grano qualcosa torna a germogliare, e ad opera della Cold Spring Records John Barleycorn torna in vita e sussurra attraverso le voci e gli strumenti dei trentatrè invitati alla cerimonia di resurrezione imbastita nell’operazione importante e ambiziosa di questa compilation in doppio cd. E per dirla in sincerità, “Dark Britannica” è un pezzo che deve stare nella nostra collezione, anche qualora il folk – tradizionale e contemporaneo – non sia in cima alle nostre playlist, perché semplicemente questo è un bell’album. La precisazione fatta nelle note di copertina è corretta e programmatica: il termine dark non riferisce necessariamente al mood del lavoro, ma a quella dark age che va dalla dipartita romana all’arrivo dei Sassoni. Simbolicamente pubblicato a Lammas – il giorno del primo raccolto – questo doppio album raccoglie un nutrito gruppo di artisti che devono la propria identità musicale al patrimonio folkloristico britannico. Apre le danze proprio la proposta del tema tradizionale “John Barleycorn” ad opera del duo The Horses of the Gods, ed il leit motiv è messo in chiaro in tutta la sua bellezza ancestrale. Poi, le cerimonie passano di mano e si colorano di volta in volta di toni solari o notturni, maestosi o delicati, sofferenti o gioiosi. Scorre la bellezza pastorale di Damh the Bard con “Spirit of Albion”, la mistica tormentata dell’immancabile Sol Invictus con “To Kill all Kings”, il legame tra tradizione ed innovazione di “Hippomania” proposto da English Heretic. E ancora, l’elegia notturna sussurrata da Electronic Voice Phenomena in “The Sorrow of Rimmon”, il digitale che s’insinua tra le pieghe del rurale di Clive Powell, le declamazioni ipnotiche di Drohne, la poesia scarna del fondamentale Martyn Bates. E molto, molto altro ancora. Non è un album da scaricare, anche per il corredo informativo compreso nel layout, ma soprattutto perché è un prodotto da acquistare. Non prenderà polvere.

From The Coven Of Janus(by Simon Jay)

  For this review we’re heading off in a new direction, because we’re venturing into the world of folk music. Now before any of you run away yowling in horror and anguish at the very thought of folk music, let me start by explaining a few things. First of all, especially for those of you from Britain or at least familiar with its culture, forget about the image of middle-aged bushily-bearded red-faced men dressed in Aran sweaters swigging ‘real ale’ from pewter tankards and lustily singing away in your local or Morris Men with bells on their ankles wielding clubs and enacting traditional dances on village greens in quaint English villages (which seem to be mostly peopled by rich refugees from London, trying to get away from the rat-race and who want to live the country life dream but find the reality being church bells on a Sunday morning or noxious animal smells from the farm next-door) on ‘traditional’ festival days. Forget about ‘and with a hey nonny-no my lass’ and all that crap. Or even of Fairport Convention and Steeleye bloody Span and all that folk-rock malarkey. Think instead of what folk songs were really like in the context of when they were originally composed in centuries gone by, when life was often nasty, short and brutish to coin a phrase or when the common-folk had no power, not even over their own lives. The songs were often biting commentaries on social and political issues of the time, often expressing in clever language the bitterness of the singer re: his position in life (and those of others) or satirising the monarch or local baron, whilst attempting to NOT attract their attention just in case it resulted him in possibly losing his head. This is DARK-FOLK, a tradition that allies itself with the concerns of the common people and is less about the popular conception of what folk-music has become since the 50’s, allowing a freedom of expression and experimentation that is conspicuously missing from mainstream interpretations. 

  Equally buried deeply in some ditties was a subtext of paganism and pagan agricultural rites that had been supplanted by and looked down upon by Christianity, plus ruminations on both death & its ever-ready willingness to visit itself upon humanity at any time and the annual cycle of birth, death and rebirth, a cycle that is close to the agricultural community and so this is truly a music of the common-folk. Many country-dwellers wished both to keep the ‘old ways’ alive AND hide them from the prying eyes of religious and political power. This album, which is divided into three sections (two of which are on this CD and one which is only available for download [sorry, you’re going to have to buy the album in order to get the last part...]), is a serious delving into a strain of folk called dark-folk and revolves around the figure of the Corn King John Barleycorn, who is a pagan representative of the annual agricultural cycle that sows, harvests and turns the barley into ale (birth, death and resurrection). Throughout history many civilisations and societies have personified this annual cycle in various ways and through many myths – in Britain kings were sacrificed (often willingly) to ensure the fecundity of the coming year by spilling his blood on the land (as it was often believe that crops grew by the grace of the king), in Egypt there was Osiris, while there were various and numerous other gods in the ancient world that fulfilled the same role, plus of course there is also Christ, who can be seen to be the ultimate evolution of this idea. In fact, the traditional song John Barleycorn, in existence since at least 1588 but probably of far older provenance, sung here by ‘The Horses of the Gods’ and the 1782 Burns version by the ‘The Anvil’, was used by the Christian church as a means of conversion because it closely resembled the life of Christ and made it easier for the pagans to grasp the central concept embodied in the invading religion. 

  Over the course of the 33 tracks on here we have everything from traditional folky motifs utilising acoustic instruments (Sharon Kraus “Horn Dance” & Peter Ulrich “The Scryer & the Shewstone”) to updated treatments using electric guitars and modern instrumentation (Tinkerscuss “To Make you Stay”& Sand Snowman “Stained Glass Morning”) and extending to almost folk-ambient (Sol Invictus “To kill All Kings” and Far Black Furlong “Icy Solstice Eye”) and experimental (English Heretic “Hippomania”, The Triple Tree “Three Crowns” and Sieben “Ogham on the Hill (Remix)) and everything in between (eg, The Straw Beat Band’s “Trial by Bread and Butter” reminded me strongly of Marc Bolan). But whatever the means used to construct the song what we have here are probably the deepest expressions of the folk current extant in Britain today, and the majority are about as far away from the popular idea of what constitutes ‘folk’ music and certainly don’t conform to the stereotype usually associated with the genre. Stand out tracks for me were The A Lords’ “Summerhouse”, a beautifully atmospheric sound-painting of summer, just lazily drifting along without a care for anything but the moment & Clive Powell’s “Reed Sodger” (a sodger is a northern English dialect word for a scarlet ladybird), a haunting interpretation of a traditional song, sung in dialect, that had shivers running up and down my spine with its ghostly ambience and evocation of mysterious trackways, fields & hedgerows and its painting of a picture of a long bygone age– in fact for me this one track summed up the whole album’s dark air and is my absolute favourite. Running a close second is the track following on, Venereum Arvum’s equally evocative “Child 102 Willie and Earl Richard’s Daughter”, which is a more traditional rendering. 

  This is a massive project to uncover and present for serious consideration the dark heart of Britain through the songs of nature, its cycles and the inevitable course of human and agricultural life, repeated ad infinitum over the endless millennia and epochs – and dispelling any notions of folk being a pretty decoration put on top of modern revivals of ‘traditional’ country festivals with their commercial aims of attracting the tourists and appealing to the lowest common denominator to get the numbers and money flowing in. Whilst there is a place for this it often varnishes the true face of both the music and the country life it’s tied to. I commend Justin Mitchell of Cold Spring, Woven Wheat Whispers & Mark Coyle (who curated this collection) for having the vision to put this album together and releasing it to a hopefully broader audience. One thing I can offer as advice though – just don’t be put off by the ‘folk’ epithet; explore some forgotten corners of music along with the past and the people who inspired them, their rites, their beliefs, their lives and lore, I can guarantee it’ll be a trip worth taking.

From Neil Houlton

  I have just received, and had my first listen to this collection of English folk music. It is, without a doubt, a work of national importance. Nothing else has come close to bringing the sounds of field and village, blackbird and blacksmith, spirit and and earth together, and giving it all context and meaning.
  This is the best and most important collection of Britannica folk music ever. You have begun to get to heart of who we are as a people, the way the past connects with the now and the fact that we lose everything if we lose one craft person or the craft they celebrate.

  "Woven Wheat Whispers" and "Cold Spring" are to congratulated on the gathering in of such talent and musicianship, I raise my
glass of foaming ale to you all.


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