“They have an umlaut they must be heavy” observed a friend on mention of these Canadians. See, this is a preconception that bands should observe before unnecessarily cladding themselves with such metal signatures. Apart from sharing country of origin and said sigil though, Voïvod they are not. Railroaded before I start, Völur are perhaps notable for including Blood Ceremony bassist Lucas Gadke in their ranks. It seems like yesterday and indeed it was only last June that we found ourselves wading through their debut album Disir which was a largely chilled and pastoral affair that took me right back to bygone times and had me dreaming of a much simpler life. Here we have another 4 wholly immersive songs that are definitely of a meditative nature and are going to take you on a journey and entrance when you undertake it. To set the scene we are told that Ancestors “is the second part of a planned four album series spotlighting various elements of the old Germanic spiritual world.”

As opener ‘Breaker Of Silence’ ebbs in you could be mistaken for thinking that you had put on a new age album or something from the Dead Can Dance back catalogue due to ethereal chanting and reverberating tones. As things expand the component parts that are integral to the sound of Völur come in to play. Namely enchantress of these opening vocal parts Laura Bates violin work (yep replacing guitar entirely and the flute playing of Lucas day job) and some incredibly thick bass tones. Obviously we should also mention Jimmy P Lightning who marks time at the back and as we discover later can certainly play at a variety of speeds. There’s plenty of substance within the fronds of this quarter of an hour opener and some wonderful melodic interplay as it builds from the roots up. The pastoral vibe from the violin is a little reminiscent of Dornenreich as well as SubRosa and vocals are varied moving from clean and fragrant to the occasional gruff male roar. ‘Breaker Of Skulls’ is as title suggests more rugged, there is something discordant about the rhythms and the gruff distempered vocals are much more prolific. We have gone from calm and gentle to a more challenging place and this certainly threw me on first listen and in effects gave me a good telling off for having gotten complacent. The rugged doom etched backbone, blackened barking vocals and folk laden instrumental motifs all work in perfect coordination with each other and although it takes a fair few listens to really get to grips with, working with this does unveil masterful folds that really begin to seep under the skin and both richly enchant and mesmerise.

Although the four “Breakers” here have their own personalities it’s an album that demands listening to in one sitting but you should find yourself having no problems doing so over its 51 minute play time as there’s plenty going on to keep drawing you back into its arms both musically and vocally. Perhaps the heft of that umlaut should not be dismissed entirely either as there are a couple of big swaggering blasty parts that really do come out and take your head totally off with a part of last opus ‘Breakers Of Famine’ giving the likes of Wolves In The Throne Room a real run for their money.

Considering this is the second of a quartet of albums it has left me wondering how it is going to progress as well as making me want to have all parts to play in my hands as one massive piece of music. I guess patience is necessary but Ancestors in its own rite (sic) is a massive enough piece of work and one that is certainly worth seeking out and absorbing.

(8/10 Pete Woods)