Track By Track: Theudho - De roep van het woud (2018)

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1. Waar kraaien de ondergang bezingen:

Where crows praise the downfall” – The title and theme of this song were inspired by a surreal spectacle I witnessed when I was out hiking in the winter. The sun was completely blotted out by heavy clouds; mist lingered over the frozen acres. Dozens of crows kept hovering in front of me, probably disturbed by my presence as they intended to scavenge on something. The lyrical connection is obvious: such birds (crows, ravens, …) were often connected to the god of war and death because they also scavenged on battle fields when silence finally had replaced cries of war.

The track introduces this atmosphere with early clean guitars but quickly takes a few dynamic twists and turns …

2. De roep van het woud:

The call of the woods” – This track is built around verses that are driven by drums, clean guitars and bass, with distorted guitars kicking in during the choruses. This contrast is mirrored by the lyrics that deal with how Christians characterise(d) nature as “evil” and “ungodly” while their own small societies centred around the church reflect the “order” of God. The reality is, of course, that such small villages were open prisons, where everybody guarded everybody, with the aristocracy and the clergy laying down the law. They loathed the “pagan”, the “heathen” who lived outside of their societies, beyond the grasp (and control) of God.

3. De alvenberg:

The mountain of elves” – In our local folk beliefs, it is said that “Alvermannen” (elves, Álfar) lived inside hills. At night, they would help the local population by harvesting, tending to animals, and so forth. Offerings of food were donated to these spirits of the land. This is one of the longest tracks on the album; slowly building and exploring quite a few different moods, including a middle section with acoustic guitars.

4. De eik van Hakiloheim:

The oak of Hakiloheim” – In the area where I grew up, once stood a mighty oak next to a natural spring. It was the centre of a Frankish/Germanic heathen cult, deep in a vast forest. Oak trees were often associated with the god Donar/Þórr. A Dutch missionary, Ursmar, who came to propagate the Christian faith in the late 7th/8th century in this area, could of course not accept such “devil worship” and cut it down ... This is one of the more “black metal” tracks on the album, with plenty of two beat and double bass drumming.

5. Op de heilige ring gezworen:

Sworn on the sacred ring” – One of the few tracks that are done in a really low guitar tuning; B standard. Even on previous Theudho albums, the slower song were recorded using a lower guitar tuning, but this time everything got pushed a bit further. This track probably stands out the most because it’s the only track with clean vocals in the chorus. Lyrically, this one deals with oaths in Germanic culture and the connection to the rather obscure god Wuþuz, who is perhaps best known as his later Scandinavian incarnation Ullr.

6. Saksenslacht:

Saxon slaughter” – This seems to be one of the favourite tracks for a lot of people, the uptempo drum beat drags you right along. After the final chorus, the song ventures into a different mood, with almost a crescendo type of feel. The lyrics deal with the war Charlemagne waged against the heathen Saxons in the 8th century.

7. Slangentongen:

Snake tongues” – One of the more vicious tracks on the album. The whole composition is based on a scale with an eastern type of feel. The lyrics to this song, although fairly graphic, are based on “the end justifies the means” tactics and morals of proselytic Christian missionaries, monks and priests that came to preach “the word of God” in the Germanic realm.

8. Wolfstijd:

Age of the wolf” – An age where mankind falls prey to degeneracy is a recurrent theme in various mythologies. Germanic, Vedic, … religions are often seen as cyclic, implying that such a phase is necessary to give birth to a renewed cycle in which everything is restored.

This one was originally written around the heavy tom section of the intro of which hints reappear throughout the verses. It is another track where the bass guitar is actually used as a lead instrument in a middle section instead of a guitar solo.

9. Het moeraslicht (bonus track on CD and digital version):

The swamp light” – This is definitely the odd track, with only bleak keyboards and without vocals. This track was written and recorded when the album was actually already finished. I wrote it in a very dark mood; on the day I heard that an acquaintance lost both of her children in a gruesome family tragedy. It’s a very bleak track, with repetitive keyboard lines stacking up, very reminiscent of 90’s dungeon synth.

10. In de schaduw van de zwarte banier (bonus track on CD version):

In the shadow of the black banner” – One of the more aggressive tracks, also based on an eastern sounding scale. It eventually shifts into an elaborate somewhat droning section after the guitar solo before returning to double bass madness. The lyrics are inspired by the Nietzschean “slave morality”.

11. Het gedrocht in de diepte (bonus track on digital version):

The monstrosity in the depths” – This one is actually thematically connected to the track “The Frozen Seas of Atland” from the debut album. It deals with a very common theme in European folk beliefs; namely the fear of what lurks in the depths beneath the waves. The song revolves around percussive rhythm guitars in drop-B that lock in with a kick drum pattern in the verses and again open up in the choruses.

12. De rivier der zwaarden (bonus track on tape version):

The river of swords” – The title is a kenning for the battlefield; this form of metaphoric descriptions is used throughout the lyrics. Very ferocious with blast beats in the start. The song was originally built around the rather shifting and dragging chord progression in the verses and the subsequent contrasting melodic chorus.

13. De Frankische strijdhamer (bonus track on tape version):

The Frankish warhammer” – The tempos and guitar tuning in B on this one give it more of a 90’s death metal feel. Very straightforward, also in the lyrical department.

14. De grafheuvel (bonus track on vinyl version):

The gravemound” – Together with “Het moeraslicht” the only instrumental track. A short acoustic interlude that nevertheless fitted in nicely with the other songs.

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