Some albums become a fully immersive experience and this is the case for Wolcensmen’s sophomore release ‘Fire in the White Stone’. Those familiar with the debut ‘Songs from the Fyrgen’ will know what to expect but for the uninitiated this is a superlative collection of dark folk hymns, integrating classical guitar and clean vocals with cello, synth, piano, percussion and even crackles of a fire courtesy of project mastermind Dan Capp (also of Winterfylleth) with guest appearances from Jo Quail (cello), Aslak Tolonen of Nest (kantele) and Jake Rogers of Visigoth/Gallowbraid (flute), among several others.

This album is based around a 12,000 word short story written by Dan Capp, which tells the tale of a young man who flees from home into the wild, where he is subjected to a series of mysterious encounters. In some ways, I am reminded of Sabbat’s ‘Dreamweaver’ album – Not musically but in the way the concept and story develop throughout the album.

Musically this album is sublime, often with very subtle melody and instrumentation which serve to create an emotive yet epic ambience contrasted by occasional tension as the tale evolves. The mix is crystal clear allowing each note and syllable to resonate, while still creating an air of claustrophobia at times of drama.

I’m not going to dissect the album track by track as that really isn’t what it is about, instead this should be appreciated in its entirety, allowing the subtleties to develop and mature with time. In the right live environment with all of the supporting musicians this would be stunning and I sincerely hope that in due course we get to experience Wolcensmen somewhere like Midgardsblot.

In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in dark folk/neo-folk/pagan folk (call it what you will) and it is a genre that I listen to a lot but for me Wolcensmen sit among very strong company at the top of the pile.

(9/10 Andy Pountney)