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Review: Sangre de Muerdago (2012)

artist: Sangre de Muerdago
release: Sangre de Muerdago
format: MC
year of release: 2012
label: Brave Mysteries
duration: 40:33

detailed info: discogs.com

Next to Stone Breath, Portuguese Sangre de Muerdago is the other band representing Brave Mysteries’ forays into neofolk. Where Stone Breath covers a deeply American side of the genre, Sangre de Muerdago is firmly European in style.

Whereas one would expect something quite Iberian from such a band, perhaps in the line of projects such as Sangre Cavallum or The Joy of Nature, Sangre de Muerdago takes a lot of influence from a more German style, and their stay in Leipzig seems to have rubbed off. Major touchstones for this album are Empyrium’Where at Night the Wood Grouse Plays and the music of artists like Darkwood or Forseti.

This combination – ‘german’ neofolk with Portuguese and Galician influences and lyrics – is one of the factors that prevents me from dismissing Sangre de Muerdago as the umpteenth effort in a genre that is often a little too traditional in nature: not necessarily loyal to folk tradition in general, but to its own narrow post-industrial idiom. Besides the fact that the language colours the music differently, the album isn’t hindered in the slightest by the excellent compositions, however loyal to the genre they may be.

The band manages to make the tried and true combo of voice, guitar, woodwinds, and strings sound relatively fresh, and that is no mean feat. The lovely calm of the two opening tracks constrasts nicely with the more intense parts that dot the centre of the album, and the atmosphere of a gentle, romantic naturalism is constant throughout.

Though they’re not pushing the neofolk genre to any new levels, Sangre de Muerdago do deliver a solid album, and one that is a joy to listen to: autumnal, arboreal, and graceful. It’s also a debut tape that holds much promise for the future, and perhaps we will hear the band transcend the genre limits on its following releases.

Reviewed by O.S.

Tracklist:

A1 O Ceo Beixo Os Meus Pes (2:38)
A2 Vellos Caminos De Vellas Arbones (5:02)
A3 Cara Terras Lonxanas (3:15)
A4 Sonos (3:22)
A5 Arrastrando As Cadeas (6:27)

B1 Onde As Almas Van A Morrer (6:12)
B2 Madeira De Teixo, Pedra De Castro (5:33)
B3 O Home Dos Cornos (2:23)
B4 Adeus Meus Amigos (5:41)