Back To One
I first became interested in the Tvinna in the summer of 2019, before their debut single washed ashore. My curiosity was stirred not just by the promise of new music, I mean, it’s dark folk which is something I’m here for after all, but it was also the blend of talent congregating around this project. With Laura and Fiona from Faun and Fieke van den Hurk joining forces, the project already hinted at a pretty cool mix.
But when Fabienne Erni of Eluveitie was announced to lend her vocals, especially on what I think was the lead single if I remember correctly, and Rafael was also on board for instrumentation, it felt like a super-group of sorts was taking shape. The convergence of members of Faun and Eluveitie in Tvinna was kinda like the aligning of celestial forces in a cosmic event.
Faun, a powerhouse name in the Pagan folk realm, meets the some of the folk metal titans of Eluveitie, creating an ensemble that I would say felt like a supernova in the making. Little did I know at the time, and where we are today, this would end up being more of a gamma ray burst.
The great thing about this collaboration lies in its inherent duality, reminiscent of the ancient concept of Yin and Yang. All dark has a little light, all light has a little dark, every shadow of folk music contains a glimmer of metal, and within the heart of metal, the soul of folk music dances.
But the project was not so much about about bringing multiple genres and talents together, it ended up being more of exploration of the balance between the two styles, a dance of light and shadow, more on the progressive rock side and dark folk, all woven together nicely. With the first single, ‘The Gore,’ I ended up thinking to myself, I know exactly how to describe their music, I knew that I enjoyed it, but this is a fusion really unlike anything else, so I didn’t really know what to call it.
In 2021, Tvinna dropped ‘One – In The Dark,’ their debut album, which felt like dipping your toes into a deep, mysterious lake. The album, loosely threading a concept around the elemental theme of water, was very much a plunge into uncharted waters. It’s not every day you come across a record that marries dark folk with progressive and rock elements in this kinda way.
‘One – In The Dark’ stood out in its release year. This record distinguished itself through its innovative blend, veering away from the conventional styles and fusions that I had known. It was a great record, marked by its uniqueness. The elements brought a refreshing and distinct sound that set it apart. Tvinna’s debut album carved out its own space, and it did it very well.
From Ashes to Artistry With A Fiery Rebirth
Here we are, stepping into 2024, a year sparking with anticipation for the sophomore release from the group. It’s a time of evolution for the band, and as the new year unfolds, it becomes evident that Tvinna have started a new chapter with the album, and as a band. The most noticeable shift comes in the form of their lineup. Changes in a band’s roster often signal a transformation in their musical direction or ethos, but how much would this impact Tvinna?
In their case, this shift is not just a mere change in personnel, it’s a reshaping of their creative core to some degree. However, amidst these changes, there are threads of continuity that weave through their new work. Elements that made their debut album stand out still pulse at the heart of their music, maintaining a connection to their roots while exploring something a bit new, and a little bit different.
The most noticeable shift comes in the form of their lineup. Laura and Rafael continue to be the original members, and now, they’ve brought in drummer Alain Ackermann as a full-time member, as many of us already know him from his talents with Eluveitie. The band also added Sascha van der Meer from Solarcycles joining in for backing vocals. This addition is noteworthy, especially considering Solarcycles recently clinched our own best Folk Metal album of the year award for 2023 with ‘Lunar’. So again, it just shows to how this band is always including these amazingly talented musicians.
‘Two – Wings Of Ember,’ set to release this February, and I’m going to be taking a look at the second chapter of the four-part saga. Of course, each chapter(album) is a tribute to the tales of life, each representing one of nature’s four elements. ‘Two – Wings Of Ember’ is a sequel, but it’s also a continuation with a twist. It picks up right where ‘One – In The Dark’ left off, but this time there’s an more of fiery passion infused into some of the tracks.
The album showcases a band that’s evolving while staying true to its roots. It’s quite a different Tvinna compared to their first record, yet the core and spirit that we’ve come to appreciate remain very much intact. This time, they’ve dialed up the intensity, especially in their darker songs, leaning more into the Doom genre elements. It adds a heavier layer to their sound. Which I mean, was already kinda there with the dark folk elements, but it’s turned up to eleven this time around.
Despite this shift, they manage to retain the essence of what made their first album so appealing. It’s the same Tvinna but reimagined, adding new dimensions to their music without losing sight of what drew me to them initially. It’s a tricky and tight balance, but Tvinna pulls it off very well.
One of the standout aspects of their debut was the guest appearances, and they’ve brought that same collaborative spirit to this new album. We see the return of Fabienne Erni on a track, along with Maria Graf, Stephan Groth, with Fiona who left a mark on the debut album, is also featured on several tracks, and Fieke van den Hurk makes a return.
Elemental Echoes And The Burning Passion Of Tvinna’s Newest Album
“Nénuphar” opens the album and stands as a gateway between Tvinna’s debut, ‘One – In The Dark,’ and, ‘Two – Wings Of Ember.’ What I find interesting is the track is a spoken word rendition of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “Water Lily.” This choice feels intentional, resonating with the water element theme of the first album and serving as a fitting farewell to that chapter.
The poem itself, through the symbolism of the lily, explores themes of enlightenment and the quest for understanding beyond the apparent surface. Or the little plant wondering whats going on about the water. It’s like a journey from the dark, murky depths of a pond to the enlightened surface above. This metaphor beautifully mirrors the transition from Tvinna’s first album, with its aquatic themes, to the fiery new directions of their second.
The track is imbued with a dark, moody tone that lays the emotional groundwork for the album. Interwoven with the spoken words are the ambient sounds of birds and a unique rewind vocal effect, creating a hauntingly atmospheric experience. Synth notes sporadically punctuate the track, enhancing this otherworldly ambiance. The addition of whispered vocal overlays adds to the eeriness, enveloping you. Tracks like this with stereo panning is why you want to shell our a few extra dollars for a nice headset. I’m telling you, it makes the experience so worth it.
As the track closes with the deep, resonant bass of the synth, it feels like we’ve just got on the road to the path that is set in front of us. The opener sets the tone for the album and it’s undeniably effective. It’s a brilliant decision to utilize this particular poem, aligning perfectly with the themes and emotions Tvinna seems to be exploring in ‘Two – Wings Of Ember.’
“Dawn Of Mine” picks up seamlessly from where “Nénuphar” left off, continuing the natural soundscape but with an added intensity. The track opens with clicking noises, again, creating a richly atmospheric effect. There’s an element in the opening that I find particularly great – a flickering, heat-like sensation in the sound.
It’s as though the track itself is catching fire, transitioning us from the water-themed ‘One – In The Dark’ to the fiery ‘Two – Wings Of Ember.’ This flickering effect reappears between verses, amplifying the sensation of a flame intensifying. Whether intentional or not, it’s a masterful touch in setting a thematic atmosphere.
The vocal melody in here is exceptionally infectious, with a pleasantness that draws you in. The song takes a turn in its second half, adopting a more intense electronic vibe. This shift adds another great layer to the track. Overall this is a great track that speaks to the seams of being awakened with self discovery and acceptance and awareness.
“Louga” bursts right in with an energy that sounds like a rallying call, with a Bukkehorn. The song opens a door to a realm where ancient vibes meet modern sounds. This was also a single off that album and I love how it blends a style that is both fresh and deeply rooted in tradition. I can see why this was a lead single.
The ethereal harmonies of Laura and Fabienne Erni are a highlight, intertwining beautifully throughout the song. As the track progresses, Fabienne’s vocals unleash a raw power that elevates the the song even more. Maria Graf’s contribution with the horn in the second verse adds a great layer authenticity to the track, reinforcing its ritualistic feel, and it adds so so much to the song.
“Louga,” is a song deeply rooted in the themes of life, love, and the joys of childhood. The song gathers these elements into a celebration, underscored by the inclusion of a child’s adorable voice. This aspect embodies the very essence of the message Tvinna is conveying. The innocence and budding promise represented by the child’s voice beautifully illustrate the song’s intent to honor and uplift the spirit of the young.
Irwahhên is a song that explores the theme of being a young woman and the emotions and sensations that come with it. The title means “Awakening” and the song reflects that concept really well with the storytelling. The song starts with a clattering rhythmic opening, while all of the other elements create a dynamic and energetic sound that captures the feeling of excitement and blossoming.
The song then transitions to a quieter and softer section, where the vocals take the lead and express the fragility and vulnerability of being a young woman. The song then builds up again to a peak, where the drums and guitars return with full force and create a powerful and impressive sound. The song ends with nice little a fade-out style effect.
Arma is a blends magic and realism, and celebrates the power of love as a weapon against the darkness. The song “weapon” or “to arm”, and has a spellbinding quality, as it starts with a gentle and soothing guitar and percussion that create a lullaby-like atmosphere. The vocals are soft and soothing. The song then shifts to a more intense and dramatic tone, as the vocals become louder and more passionate, and the guitars and drums become more powerful and energetic.
It features a super stunning guitar solo that sounds like a roaring engine, that just ramps up before hitting an explosion of riffs. The song ends with a nice fade-out. The song is well-structured and executed, and the instrumentation is amazing. The vocals are also impressive, as they express the emotions and messages of the song with passion. This one was a highlight of the album for me.
Wings Of Ember is the title track of the album, and it is a that really seems to be about journey of self-discovery and liberation. The title makes me think of metaphorical wings that can help one soar above the limitations and fears that hold one back. All while doing it in a blaze of glory.
The song has a surprising and refreshing quality, as it deviates from the expected sound and style of the album that we’ve known so far. The song has a classic rock vibe, mixed with some futuristic and experimental elements. It sounds like a fusion of different genres and influences, but it is hard to label or categorize it.
And thus far it really is unlike anything we’ve heard on the album. It is very much progressive, but not in the conventional sense. The song is original and creative, and I find that this one really shows the the bands vision. What we have is s a catchy and powerful guitar and great percussion, and a a very expressive vocal performance.
“Two Staves” is rich song that I find to be rich in symbolism and depth. It then takes an unexpected yet turn into a psychedelic realm, layered with a distinct doom metal essence. This combination creates a unique sound that we’ve gotten from the band before, but it’s really on full display here. The song is a skillful mix of different styles, yes, and what really stands out to me, is that great baseline. The track’s progression includes a powerful break that highlights some outstanding guitar work.
Laura’s vocal performance, especially towards the end, adds a chilling layer to the track. Her voice has an emotion that aligns with the song’s overarching theme. It’s a track that takes on one of the biggest, or really, the biggest theme relevant to our times, the climate crisis.
“Fortress” is a song that celebrates the feminine aspect of creation, with lyrics that evoke both the nurturing and the powerful sides of this mother goddess being. The chorus is based on an ancient text which I found to be really cool, and overall the song is a nice blend of folk and and some more metalish elements. The song starts with a gentle accordion melody, then gradually builds up with guitars, drums, sort of falling into place, one by one.
The vocals are expressive and harmonious, and one this, it puts you in this state of awe. The song reaches hits hard in the second half, where the instruments become more intense and the vocals more passionate. The song then ends with a soft fade-out, giving you this peace and wonder feeling.
The album ends with ‘The Fall” and lyrically speaking it really is the darkest track on the album. The sound leans heavily into a post-metal sound, which effectively supports the song’s serious nature. The progression of the track showcases how the band brings in many elements, adding to its rich texture. The longer duration of the song allows for a complete exploration of these themes, both in its lyrics and through its instrumentation. If I remember correctly, I think this was the second longest song on the album.
This track is great because it balances the serious subject matter and the music arrangements really well. All in all, I think “The Fall” is a nice way to end the album because it shows what the album is all about musically. Everything you’ve heard thus far, wrapped into one track. And this is a track that is both personal and powerful.
The Art of Combustion – A Fiery Visual
One thing that I rarely talk about when reviewing an album is the artwork. Not that it’s not important, but the music is the main thing, you know? But for this album, I have to give my compliments to the amazing art that fits the concept, the identity, and the themes so well. As someone who works in graphic design, I appreciate the hard work that went into this. And this is really has me hoping the band releases some merch with this art, because this is one of the most visually stunning album covers I’ve ever seen.
The cover art is not just amazing, but it perfectly encapsulates the themes and essence of the music within. I’m a huge fan of the concept of the wheel, symbolizing movement and an ever-turning cycle. This imagery really really hits deeply with the album’s themes, presenting a sense of primal wildness and unbridled energy. It truly is a visual representation of the album’s soul. The artwork embodies a fiery sense of passion and transformation deeply woven into the music.
The color palette, with its ember hues, is strikingly vivid with the dark. I think the team that created this was from the talents of photographer Sam Evans, with Laura as the model, and Fieke on the artwork. I just have a deep appreciation for this piece because as I said, it’s gorgeous, and as a graphic designer myself I can just look at it and be like ‘ohh, that took a lot of time.’
I cannot help but be impressed by the meticulous attention to detail and the sheer amount of work that’s been poured into every facet of this record. This album stands to the band’s dedication to their craft, manifesting not just in the quality of music but in its ability to consistently bring something fresh to the table.
My experience with this album was immensely enjoyable, with each track offering a new flavor, a different hue to the overall picture. This is particularly noteworthy for someone like me who has listed to a wide array of musical styles, even those genre fusions that are off the beaten path. Despite its seemingly straightforward nature, the album distinguishes itself through its unique execution.
There’s a subtlety in the simplicity, a depth in the apparent straightforwardness that Tvinna has mastered. In an era where music often tends to blend into a sea of similarity, this album carves out its own niche. It’s a rare find in the sense that it manages to strike the perfect balance with all that it brings.
Ok, getting into the personal taste of my music preferences, I’ve always had an interesting relationship with progressive music. While it’s not my go-to genre, I can’t deny the allure and complexity it brings to the table. I enjoy a bit of it. However, my typical listening habits tend to shy away from anything that starts with the word ‘post’ or ends with ‘core’ . It’s a little running joke – imagine how I react to a ‘post-core’ band. That said, it’s not that I don’t appreciate the craftsmanship in those styles. There’s a lot of talent and innovation in those realms that I genuinely enjoy. I love a number of ‘whatevercore’ bands.
But then, we get to the post part. Which I’ve always thought, why listen to post rock when atmospheric black metal exist, or there is some kind of Celtic ambience I could put on. This single album might have changed my mindset. And, here’s where Tvinna’s album takes an interesting turn for me. Their incorporation of post-rock elements was so well done, that it challenged my usual inclinations.
It’s rare for a band to pull me into a style I don’t naturally gravitate towards, but this album did just that. The post-rock style components were crafted so effectively that they caught and held my attention in a way few others have managed. Maybe this will be the gateway for me, to give that style another look and listen.
And we have some doom elements! It’s this blend of post-rock and doom, folk, coupled with their unique approach, that made this album stand out for me. I have to give it up for Tvinna’s ability to not only create great music within their chosen styles but also to reach listeners like myself, who might not typically engage with the more post side of things. And for me it’s a bridge across musical preferences, inviting people like myself over to the artistry within these styles.
I’ve had this album for a while now, I’ve been able to immerse myself in its depths repeatedly over an extended period. In today’s fast-paced world, where new content constantly bombards us, it’s a rare gem that retains its freshness and appeal through multiple listens. This album does exactly that. Each time I’ve returned to it, I’ve been greeted with the same sense excitement as the first listen. It’s one of those exceptional albums that doesn’t just blend into the background of the ever-growing music library in my mind.
Yes, I know people often declare an album as ‘unique experience’ or as an ‘ journey.’ These terms have been overused to the point of losing their impact. However, in the case of this album, such descriptions feel not only appropriate but necessary. It transcends the typical boundaries of genre and expectation, offering a listening experience that is genuinely distinct.
From the intricate layering of sounds to the thoughtful progression of themes, every element of this album is crafted with precision and care. It hits all the right notes, fulfilling not just my criteria for what makes music great but also adding something extra, something indefinable that elevates it to another level.
I believe this album is not just for a select few, as it has the potential to resonate with a broad audience. Its universal appeal lies in its ability to connect deeply, regardless of their usual genre preferences. I’m confident will grab a wide range of fans of dark folk music and lovers of metal. I can’t wait for it to be released to the wider public, who I’m sure will embrace it just as enthusiastically as I have.