Last fall the Vancouver band Boreal Hymn made a very auspicious debut through a demo entitled Tundra. Uniting the exceptional talents of Bronson Lee Norton (the vocalist of Seer and Eyes Without A Face) and instrumentalist Colby Hink (of Wormwitch and ex-Old Graves), Boreal Hymn created a musical experience that could easily be called transportive.
To paraphrase some of the the words of acclaim from commenters on the demo’s Bandcamp page, the music was a shifting slice of dark pagan metal incorporating dark growls, lofty vocals, and evocative chants, conjuring visions of crackling fires, hoary trees, and vast open spaces — evocative and expansive. And to repeat some of what I wrote about the demo at that time, the sensations of the music ranged from cold and dismal to fiery and majestic, sometimes undeniably bleak, but persistently enchanting.
And so it’s a real pleasure to premiere a new Boreal Hymn recording today — a cover of Bathory’s classic “Man of Iron” from Blood On Ice (1996) — especially because Boreal Hymn will be donating 100% of the sales in May to The Canadian Mental Health Association for Mental Health Awareness month.
Boreal Hymn remain faithful to the melody of Bathory’s original, but their recording is not a duplicate, but rather a re-interpretation. For one thing, although Quorthon had a very good singing voice, Bronson Lee Norton is in a different league; when he sends his voice into the heavens, it’s a spine-tingling experience. For another thing, Boreal Hymn have added booming drums to the ring of the acoustic guitars, and layers of additional instrumentation that cause the music to soar and shine, to become vast and panoramic, where the original was more pensive and introspective. And the result is that the entire song is spine-tingling. The darkness in the tale of this man who has hardened himself to exact revenge is still unmistakable, but the music is enthralling, majestic, even mythic.
Boreal Hymn‘s version of “Man of Iron” will be available for download on Bandcamp. And to keep abreast of the band’s future activities, follow them on Facebook.