Review: Weh - Origins (2010)


artist: Weh
release: Ori­gins
format: 2xCD
year of release: 2010
label: Soulseller
dur­a­tion: 1:57:33

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

Ori­gins is a double-CD release com­pil­ing all work put out so far by Nor­we­gian neo­folk artist Erik E, work­ing under the name of Weh. It starts with The Death EP from 2002, and con­tin­ues all the way up to the present year, with sev­eral new tracks released as Ori­gins. Dutch extreme metal label Soulseller has put it all on two discs in a nice gate­fold sleeve, mak­ing the mater­ial avail­able to a broader audi­ence after all these years. Through­out all the music on these two full discs, Erik opts for basic neo­folk approach of gui­tar and voice, both pro­duced warmly and clearly on all the releases fea­tured. Addi­tional instru­ment­a­tion is quite rare and often min­imal, restric­ted to the use of tam­bour­ine, samples and subtle key­boards in a couple of tracks.

The first EP reveals the project’s back­ground in the extreme metal world, with the addi­tion of some mediocre growled vocals in a num­ber of the tracks, which tends to clash with the sub­dued style of the music in gen­eral. The rest of the EP’s aspects didn’t really appeal to me either, with its rather simplistic (and mil­it­ant) lyr­ics express­ing sen­ti­ments of prim­it­ive anti-christianity and sim­ilar themes com­mon in metal.

Such themes can also be found on some of the other mater­ial on this com­pil­a­tion, but thank­fully, they becomes more and more mixed with per­sonal and mel­an­cholic reflec­tions. Examples are calmer tracks like “The War Is Over”, “Any Other Day”, and “The Grave”. As we move on across disc one, many tracks remind one pleas­antly of con­tem­por­ary Ger­man neo­folk artists like Orplid and For­seti, though rarely quite match­ing that level.

Disc two starts off prom­isingly with a very nice cover of Windir’s “Likbør”, which fea­tured earlier on the Val­far, Ein Windir album, a trib­ute released after the death in 2004 of its main song­writer and musi­cian Val­far (Terje Bakken). This longer track man­ages to cap­ture the melodic move­ments of the intense black/viking metal of the ori­ginal quite nicely, though per­haps not quite match­ing the over­all level, espe­cially on the second half, which is simply way more epic in elec­tric gui­tar.

The fur­ther tracks on this second disc in gen­eral show more soph­ist­ic­a­tion than those on the first, espe­cially in terms of song­writ­ing. There is room for longer com­pos­i­tions, and Erik incor­por­ates a bit more solo­ing and the like to add vari­ation to the tracks. Nev­er­the­less, I must say that I abso­lutely nowhere blown away by these tracks. One has to recog­nise that it requires a meas­ure of cour­age to write per­sonal songs like this and put them for­ward in a straight­for­ward man­ner. How­ever, in the case of Weh, there is little artistic value to it all, par­tic­u­larly when com­pared to other artists. Both the music and the full spec­trum of the themes (hea­thenry, mel­an­choly, rebel­lion, intro­spec­tion, etc.) have been done far bet­ter when you take the music of the past 25 years into account.

There is cer­tainly a rising line to be dis­covered in the chro­no­logy of these tracks, but the final level is still not that good com­pared to many of the neo­folk and singer/songwriter artists out there. Per­haps Weh will be able to con­tinue this ascend­ing curve, and pro­duce a future release that is able to hold its own out there. Ori­gins, how­ever, while con­tain­ing a num­ber of enjoy­able tracks, is little more than an archival col­lec­tion, of interest only to neo­folk com­plet­ists and those who are already famil­iar with some of the works on these two discs.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

The Death (2002)
1.1 Dead­line (2:19)
1.2 Dark­ness Part One (2:13)
1.3 Hang ‘Em High (1:39)
1.4 The Justice Song (1:05)
1.5 Lady Death (2:40)

All The Sin­ners Are Sleep­ing Now (2003)
1.6 Where Evil Hides Intro (1:21)
1.7 On Your Knees (2:35)
1.8 Seal­ing Fates (2:09)
1.9 Some­times I Bleed (4:17)
1.10 Walk The Other Way (2:21)
1.11 The War Is Over (5:23)
1.12 Where Evil Hides Outro (1:18)

The Coffee’s Cold In The Morn­ing, The Beer’s Warm At Night (2004)
1.13 Any Other Day (2:42)
1.14 Barbed Wire Tight (2:32)
1.15 Bal­lad To The Har­vest (2:42)
1.16 World Of Pain (3:34)
1.17 Darling Meet Demise (1:57)
1.18 The Grave (2:58)
1.19 When The Raven Spoke My Name (2:41)
1.20 Skel­eton (3:43)
1.21 Sum­mer Went South (3:26)
1.22 Des­ol­ate (3:00)

2.1 Likbør (5:26)

Hoof & Horn (2005)
2.2 Hea­then Ground  (6:05)
2.3 The End­less­ness (3:01)
2.4 Ruin (6:03)

North (2006)
2.5 And The Bells Are Ringing Doom (4:08)
2.6 North (5:07)
2.7 Dark­ness Part Two (3:04)
2.8 The Man Of Gal­low Proud (4:57)

Ori­gins (2010)
2.9 The Sea­ward Song (3:18)
2.10 The Road And The Forest (4:09)
2.11 Nihil Interit (4:48)
2.12 Sigars Øyk (1:33)
2.13 Ori­gins (3:56)
2.14 En Bekk Av Blod (3:18)

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