It’s always nice to hear new music from Skálmöld, a band that is arguably one of the most kind-hearted and passionate in the business, and they’re back with their fourth album Vögguvísur Yggdrasils, following their 2014 studio album Með vættum. It’s another good album from the Icelandic six-piece, but unfortunately it’s a bit more of a ‘slow burner’ and doesn’t quite grab you in the same way that their past albums have.
There’s nothing wrong with it in a musical sense, but the songs just don’t seem to be as memorable or hard-hitting – there’s no massively emotive epics, nor does it feature music that will be stuck inside your head for days. The songs are good, and the album won’t exactly leave you reeling in disgust because it doesn’t massively diverge from previous releases, but perhaps the fact that Skálmöld haven’t tried many new things with Vögguvísur Yggdrasils is its downfall.
Fourth track Miðgarður is perhaps the strongest track of the nine, an energetic number with a tremendous guitar line that has that trademark ‘Skálmöld’ sound to it, yet it’s still not their best work – it’s just the only song that really stands out. The songs are all fairly good, but they don’t leave a mark on you and make you feel them with your heart – and it’s a shame because I’m more used to hearing banger after banger from them!
For a long-term fan such as myself, it’s a little saddening that I just haven’t been able to properly connect with this album after listening to it a great deal. However, there’s every chance that these songs will translate live tremendously (indeed, I didn’t really enjoy their songs Að hausti and the crowd-pleaser Kvaðning until watching them performed live!) so I’ll still be down at the front when they next come over to the UK – but as an album, whilst it is a good listen, it doesn’t quite reach the levels that Skálmöld are capable of.