“Hamradun captures the past in a solid rock format. More importantly, it sounds authentic and the whole concept rests on a solid approach that can be developed into something special.”
- Sinklars vísa
- Ein stutt og stokkut løta
- Kvæðið um Hargabrøður
I’m going local with my first 2016 subject. Incidentally, this is also the very first Faroese band that gets featured on EMV, so I guess some sort of applause is in order. Let’s at least raise our glasses and say SKÀL! The band reviewed is named Hamradun, a new folk rock project initiated by singer and lyricist Pól Arni Holm, an influential figure here on The Faroe Islands. I´ll mention Týr and “Ormurin Langi” and leave the rest for you non-Faroese readers to research. Along for the ride are members residing in Hamferð, MC-Hár (!), and also a blues musician, whose name will be revealed in the lines below (suspense people, suspense).
Three impressions struck me when done listening to this self-titled debut album; 1) The infectious and soaring choruses. 2) The compelling and strong narratives from the lyrical universe that is explored. 3) The fairly simple approach in style and execution. Musically, there’s bound to be some parallels drawn towards the first Týr album “How Far To Asgaard”. Hamradun is not as progressive or heavy though; there’s a lot more emphasis on creating a rock sound, borderline heavyrock or hardrock, whatever you want to call it, with the folk elements being of high importance.
I’ve always liked Pól Arni’s singing. Needless for me to say, his performance on the album is excellent. He really commands the moving tales of old, be it a calm verse or the soaring choruses mentioned before, “Sneppan”, “Snæbjørn” and “Frísarnir” being impressive examples of this. “Útlegd” displays folk balladry that for some reason recalls the acoustic tavern tunes of Blind Guardian, a heartfelt song indeed and penned by Pól Arni himself.
Much of the material on this album is based on a variety of traditions, psalms, Irish folk melodies and kvæði (Faroese ballads). The album’s centerpiece is “Sinklars visa” clocking in at eight minutes. I enjoy the first half of the song but the second half bothers me a bit though; the buildup to the last ten verses is great but as soon as the drums enter, I feel the track looses momentum. There’s a percussive bit that comes in around the three-minute mark that’s very cool, wish they’d kept this approach further into the track. “Kvæðið um Hargabrøður” is a much more successful ballad. I really like this one, emotive and with that percussive element that gives it a really raw timbre, that to me goes better with this type of lyrical universe.
Uni Debess deserves special mentioning. Apart from having helped with a lot of the arrangements, he delivers a few nice solos on the album. He’s very much the boss of his instrument, great to hear him outside of his well-versed blues background.
Hamradun captures the past in a solid rock format. More importantly, it sounds authentic and the whole concept rests on a solid approach that can be developed into something special. This debut works as a stepping-stone to the next movement, which hopefully won’t be too far away.
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