Record Reviews

Album review: Gåte “Nord”

Norwegian progressive folk-rock band Gåte offers us intense and mesmerising acoustic pagan folk music on its new album.

Many of the best metal acts are inspired by Nordic folk music. They often borrow themes, lyrics, visuals, rhythm, instrumentation, vocal styles and much more from a genre with deep roots in the forests of Northern Europe. As someone with deep Swedish and Norwegian roots who grew up in those cold and sparsely populated Nordic lands, there is an almost animalistic appeal in this music. As much as I love pagan metal and blackened folk metal, I also thoroughly enjoy exploring the music behind the music by taking deeper journeys into the folk music world that inspired the metal acts. Norwegian band Gåte was formed in 1999 and is one of the best contemporary bands in the pagan folk music genre. Gåte has throughout its career combined folk music and modern rock with progressive influences. On “Nord”, the band has taken a more traditional perspective on Nordic folk music performed on acoustic instruments. The performance is raw, real and full of emotion. Gåte’s music is intense and mesmerising, at times tormenting. It draws its listeners in and doesn’t let go. It’s a terrific kind of folk-based progressive rock. On the new album, they make a deep dive into Norway’s traditional folk music and give it a modern touch while fully embracing their pagan heritage. A highlight for me is the fascinating and powerful song “Svik”. It is sheer brilliance. The band name Gåte is Norwegian for “riddle”. It is a fitting name as there is a layer of mystique around this band and its haunting folk music. This is the kind of musical foundation from where metal bands such as Kampfar and Taake seemingly have taken inspiration. If you’re a metalhead who wants to trace roots, dig back in time, then this could very well be a good album for you. Or if you just dig folk influences in your music. Either way, Gåte is a terrific band that is here to entertain you. Lead vocalist Gunnhild Sundli has one of those exquisite voices that sounds like it belongs to someone born to sing folk music. I’d love to hear her do a collaboration with one of the Norwegian black metal or pagan metal bands. In addition to Gunnhild on vocals and violin, the band consist of Magnus Børmark on guitar, vocals and percussion, Sveinung Sundli on Hardanger fiddle, organ, vocals and percussion and Jon Even Schærer on percussion and vocals.

Gåte’s new album “Nord” will be released on 3rd December via Indie Recordings.