Once again, I find myself arriving late to the party on a fantastic album that was released toward the end of 2020. With so much music being released in the genres that I’ve created this blog for, it sometimes feels impossible to stay dialed in to all of the magnificent works of art that find their way into this world. However, as I’ve always said, it’s better late than ever, especially if discovering something that may have a lasting impact. Grande Loge definitely fits that bill with their awe-inspiring, ritualistic ambient debut, ‘Mantras’. Featuring seven tracks of ceremonial dirges, these songs exemplify ancient tribal hymns with traditional instruments and a solid production.
From the start, “Epopteia” takes the lister back in time, to a medieval Scandinavian period where music and art were inspired by the land, ancients Gods and culture. A broad mix of conventional instruments and hymnal chants, this track sets a particular mood for mythological inspiration and ritualistic dominance. As the track continues, the pace increases and the compositional movements become more austere. “Mithra Invictus” commences with bold vocal incantations, followed by Middle Eastern-style melodies. A variety of percussive elements create a galloping style arrangement and the vocal performance become increasingly powerful. An impressive break toward the middle of the track brings more layers of stringed instruments and soon after, it picks back up to an enchanting performance of strident harmony and ancient throat singing. “Hekaten” continues with the powerful vocal performances in a chant-like manner, complete with serene musical accents, with the occasional bell ring. As the song ages, the vocals become more majestic and continue to stand out. This track is reminiscent of a group of Norse warriors participating in a ritualistic ceremony before forging on to battle. “Avekko” has a compelling and unique vocal performance, with layers of vocal chats & whispers, while drones of throat singing occupies the background elements. Harsh shrills of warrior-like cries peak at random intervals, while a beautiful violin lead stands out between all of the vocal endeavors. “Aecroto” begins with a simple percussive beat and then menacing overtone vocals begin to engage – chanting a traditional narration. A background drone increases with anxious intent while a wide range of voice melodies continue to shine. “Tenya Pon” is a fun little track that will have the listener tapping their feet in unison with the drum beats, while singing along with the simple vocal chants that are present throughout. It’s easy to tell that this is a celebratory track due to the upbeat percussive performance and the sing-along style vocals. The final track on the album is the ceremonial “Hierophantes”. Various traditional instruments synchronize to compose a minimalistic but glorifying final performance. Representing the darkness of nature and melancholy, this song is soundtrack worthy and succeeds in catapulting the listener back to a dark time where an ancient civilization lived off of the land and endured the hardships of Arctic-like elements and suffrage through battle. This is such an exalting way to end this amazing album.
‘Mantras’ is an exception album and such a bold statement for a debut. Grande Loge sustains a high caliber performance throughout this stunningly beautiful magnum opus and every track stands out in the most impressive of ways. Combining elements of traditional instruments, multiple singing styles and haunting background ambience, Grand Loge creates a challenging platform for ritualistic inspired music. Fans of Wardruna and Phurpa should dive into this album immediately and everyone else should take the time to check out this extremely special performance. Click on the link below to download this grandiose musical experience.
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