Both autocorrect and Google will be convinced that you have a typo and are looking for psychedelic heavy rock band Elder. If you’re not Swedish, they will also be convinced you misspelled Nordabetraktelse, which very roughly translates to “Ehlder’s debut album.” This solo project of Graavehlder (formerly Graav), however, is a tribute to his pagan musical heritage, and it honors that legacy with maturity and purpose.
Please judge this book by its cover: a solitary figure seated before a fire in the forest, looking out over the mountains; the stick-like band name (actually legible!!), all further cementing Ehlder’s pagan proclivities. Drudkh, Panopticon, or Wolves in the Throne Room are certainly more well-known starting points for nature-centric and/or pagan black metal, but it’s Graavehlder’s own bands that best inform his current sound.
Nordabetraktelse draws on the spirit of the folk music found in Lönndom and most directly channels the blackened speed of Armagedda. But the black ‘n’ roll of LIK is the well from which Ehlder drinks most deeply, and all three bands encompass the Nordvis Produktion aesthetic that our handsome wordsmith Dan Obstkrieg profiled earlier this year. Nordvis has created and thoughtfully maintained a stable of like-minded bands that look backwards (and backwoods) for their inspiration.
Much of this album is a solemn contemplation of nature, personal ancestry, and musical roots, but track three gets downright playful in its midpoint. The guitar rings out with an irreverent lick before Graavehlder howls and the drums jump into an oft repeated kick-snare motif, and they all swirl gleefully around the campfire.
The LP release contains only the first six tracks, but the CD and digital versions end with the bonus track “Varerytm I Varganord.” Graavehlder lets loose an actual howl, and then a repetitive tom-tom drum solo pounds through the final five minutes. It’s about three minutes longer than necessary, but it makes an excellent reintro if you have the album on repeat.
There is a hypnotic simplicity to Nordabetraktelse that allows deep exploration of the entwined blackened, rocking roots of this familiar debut. The sounds are intimately human, and Graavehlder reaches for a universal understanding of man in the wild. Whether Ehlder succeeds or not depends on your own experience, but the less you think about autocorrect or the internet at all, the more Nordabetraktelse will speak to you.