Fairy-Vinterverv-digipak2.inddIf you’re ever going to discover new music, you’ve got to roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty. And so it was I found myself clutching the latest copy of Vinterverv by Fairy, a band that promises to transgress musical boundaries, and presumably gives your dishes a lemon freshness and is kind to your skin into the bargain. All references to classic washing up liquid marketing campaigns aside, please bear with me. Under the normal course of events I’d be unlikely to find myself listening to this blend of Norwegian melancholy pop, folk and with just a hint of what you might, in a moment of weakness, be tempted to call black metal. But there’s just something slightly captivating about this band. Maybe it’s the spine-tingling first track Ragnarok which sounds like it could stand in as the theme tune to the next James Bond film. Maybe the commitment to subtle and subtly varied song writing and the swinging, hypnotising effect of tracks like Eufori? Or is it the crystal clear vocals which range from silky and embracing to mournfully operatic?

Or perhaps you might like they’ve wrapped Enslaved-style quick-step black metal with Scandinavian pop? Whichever of those appeal, it’s a very nice package and the tracks carefully avoid the hackneyed pitfalls of this type of drifting melancholy led by ethereal, slightly deadpan female vocals. Fairy manages to cover a lot of ground here. Vinterverv – produced by an (almost) all-female band if that makes any difference – is an album that delivers an enjoyably evolving type of music that uses the careful blend of ingredients wisely and with restraint, without ever going for the obvious wins that it could achieve for purely sentimental or ultra-catchy vocal melodies. In purely metal terms, this is more entry level stuff that I’m sure some would resent calling metal at all. But this is the sound of walking in to a Bergen bar on a Friday night and hearing a band which you instinctively feel have the potential to be a lot bigger than they currently are. A female-fronted metal band with a knack for consistency and a level of musical maturity that makes them marketing man’s dream.

Although the album never quite lifts off again to the same delights and heady heights of the first track, there are some heavier moments like Seid and Rekviem and tracks like Dualitet Og Ulver which veers fleetingly towards Nightwish territory. But in fact the number of – albeit female fronted – pop and metal band names you could throw at Fairy perhaps speaks for the diversity of their style – or maybe just that they have not found their individual mojo just yet. Bands like Lacuna Coil and the Gathering as well as electronic forerunners like Mono (the UK trip hop band not the Japanese rockers) and even ‘dream pop’ like Dubstar and all spring to mind as you let those vocals drift over you. There’s a slick dinner-party desirability and coffee table charm to Vinterverv. But there’s also more than one dimension here and some clever genre-blending. I’m not sure Fairy has quite put their finger on it yet but it’s all there for the taking.

(7/10 Reverend Darkstanley)