V/A - Secret Lords A Heidenvolk Collaboration - CD - 10 tracks - HeidenVolk - 2003

Released in last November on Darkwood's own label HeidenVolk, 'Secret Lords' is a collaborative work gathering In Gowan Ring, Darkwood, A Challenge Of Honnour/Sturmpercht, Agnivolok, Chaos as Shelter, VE Europa and Voxus Imp. The concept of this compilation is Architecture and more particularly 'the hidden life of buildings, the fate petrified in stone and the history conserved in architecture'. The cd contains 10 tracks for nearly 60 minutes of music.
Despite the musical diversity of bands involved in this project, ranging from apocalyptic folk, industrial martial to ambient experimental sonorities, I must say the result is very pleasant to listen to and reveals a true alchemy.
However, depending on personal tastes, some songs are more appealing than others... this is the case of the two Darkwood contributions and especially 'Valley of Dark Memories' that features Ian Read on vocals as well as 'Orb Weavers' (extract from the album 'Hazel Steps through a Weathered Home') by In Gowan Ring in their recognisable folk style. Agnivolok's contribution with 'Town with Yellow Eyes' is also worth mentioning. This Ukrainian-Israeli ensemble, mainly known for their original and unclassifiable LP 'Sculptor' released by Stateart in 2002, offer here an outstanding song transcended by the impressive and melancholic voice of Vera Agnivolok set to traditional folk music featuring Henryck Vogel from Darkwood on the acoustic guitar and bass. 'Tausend Sterne sind ein Dom' by VE Europa with a background of German children chorals (that I suppose to be a Christmas song) and the same lyrics whispered by a male voice create a very special atmosphere that fits very well to the ensemble.

The cd comes in a nice digipack and is accompanied by an informative and well-realised 12-page booklet.

An original concept treated with intelligence and a very good selection of songs make 'Secret Lords' a recommended compilation.

Nathalie F.
Winter 2004

Contact: www.heidenvolk.de