Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


White Willow

Symphonic Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

White Willow Sacrament album cover
3.88 | 170 ratings | 23 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 2000

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Anamnesis (9:11)
2. Paper Moon (6:44)
3. The Crucible (7:32)
4. The Last Rose of Summer (3:23)
5. Gnostalgia (10:18)
6. The Reach (10:59)

Total Time 48:07

Bonus tracks on 2014 Termo remaster:
7. Gnostalgia (demo) (11:22)
8. The Crucible (demo) (7:21)
9. Paper Moon (live 2005) (5:18)

Line-up / Musicians

- Sylvia Erichsen / vocals (excl. 9)
- Jacob Holm-Lupo / electric, acoustic & classical guitars, keyboards, bass, vocals (4), co-producer
- Brynjar Dambo / keyboards & glockenspiel (excl. 9)
- Ketil Vestrum Einarsen / flute, recorder, melodica, keyboards
- Johannes Sæbøe / bass (excl. 9)
- Aage Moltke-Schou / drums & percussion, glockenspiel

- Øystein Vesaas / wordless vocals (1), co-producer, mixing
- Simen E. Haugberg / oboe (1,3,5)
- Erlend Sæverud / keyboards (7,8)
- Tirill Mohn / violin (7,8)
- Trude Eidtang / vocals (9)
- Lars Fredrik Frøislie / keyboards (9)
- Marthe Berger Walthinsen / bass (9)

Releases information

Artwork: Chad Michael Ward with Michael Bennett (design)

CD The Laser's Edge - LE1034 (2000, US)
CD Termo Records - TERMOCD017 (2014, Norway) Remastered by Jens Petter Nilsen w/ 3 bonus tracks and a different cover art

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy WHITE WILLOW Sacrament Music

WHITE WILLOW Sacrament ratings distribution

(170 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

WHITE WILLOW Sacrament reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Marcelo
5 stars Every WHITE WILLOW's album is a masterpiece, and maybe this is the best. The style always remember the typical Scandinavian "cold nostalgy" that listener can find in bands like SINKADUS or LANDBERK but, in the WW case, the female singer (Sylvia Erichsen) adds a strong sadness component to the distant and even depressive melodies. "Sacrament" is an unforgettable calm trip to melancholy. Beautiful music from a magnificent band.
Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

The first time I heard WW was with their debut album Igniis Faatis as they were part of the second wave of Scandinavian prog groups to invade the planet: along with Catweazle, Ravana, Galleon, Ageness, Twin Age, Simon Says and them. And I must say that from this wave, the only group I really appreciated, Ravana, is the only one that never carried out a second album. White Willow has been the most "prolific" (4 albums in 12 years) of that generation (and to my knowledge the only one regularly active). Of all those groups mentioned above, WW is probably the one that comes the closest to the AnglaDötenBerk trilogy. By the time of their third release in 2000, the group was then a sextet (the standard prog quartet plus Sylvia, the singer and Ketil on wind instruments) and their sound was still a very calm pastoral prog. The artwork is of a mystic nature (as the album title indicates) and evokes a Jewish sect of the Davidians (7-prong star instead of 6-prong star).

Musically speaking the album is well in the line of their previous two, but more like their debut Igniis Faatis rather than their particularly boring Ex-Tenebris, even if still occasionally they resort to the sleeping pills to compose certain tracks. Clearly it is the more nervous tracks like Crucible where the energy level indicates they are awakening from their lethargic states. Not that the quieter tracks like Last Rose (for ex) isn't well written or executed, but if it is reminiscent of Crimson's Talk To The Wind, it simply is not mesmerizing. Maybe part of the problem is that the main songwriter is a guitarist (nothing against Holm-Lupo as such, by all means) but good prog has always been easier to write on a keyboard rather than on a neck full of strings. Outside of the instrumental Crucible, the other highlight is the lengthy Gnostalgia, (a group composition as well) with some superb hypnotic moments, especially in the closing minutes. The closing The Reach is also relatively more interesting (for the same reasons), but it is funny to see that when the group does a collective job, they sound more like Anglagard than WW.

It is a bit funny (if not dismaying) to read the warning on the back cover about the extreme dynamic range of WW's music. Sacrament is a great improvement on Ex-Tenebris, and almost on par with their debut Igniis Faatis, if you love melancholic and bucolic ambiances that only our Nordic friends can make it, this album could easily for you.

Review by loserboy
4 stars I have followed this band since the early days of "Ignis Fatuus" and have always been amazed at their depth and musical prowess. With line-up changes found on every album it is no wonder that every album also really carries its on flavour. "Sacrament" line up is Brynjar Dambo (keyboards, glockenspiel) Aage Moltke Schou (drums, percussion, glockenspiel) Sylvia Erichsen (vocals) Johannes Sæbøe (bass) Jacob Holm-Lupo (electric, acoustic, & classical guitars, vocals, keyboards, bass) Ketil Vestrum Einarsen (flutes, recorders, melodica, keyboards) with guests Simen Haugberg (oboe) and Øystein Vesaas (vocals). One of the key characteristics of WHITE WILLOW albums is the care by which they are recorded with lots of natual tones (oboes, mellotrons, deep gutteral bass) and flawless production which when combined with thier wealth of instrumentation make this a magical and highly original musical listening experience. "Sacrament" really moves the listener from tranquil soundscapes to faster tempoed interludes. Sound production is deep and rich with great speaker seperation. Overall this is an essential album IMHO to have in your collection and lovers of ANGLAGARD, SINKADUS will be right at home.
Review by hdfisch
4 stars What I like the most with WW's albums is that everyone sounds different from each other and nevertheless I love them all in some way. Although EX TENEBRIS was somewhat weaker than their debut, it was still quite good. SACRAMENT might be the most difficult one to get into due to its quite complicate structure with many rather quiet sections but as well some quite heavy ones , but with a bit of patience and careful listening during a few spins it's really becoming an album that one will love to listen again and again. Although it's very different from its follow-up STORM SEASON, which is top-notch and more accessible I would say it's really not of minor quality compared to that one.

After a very calm beginning with nice vocals by Sylvia Erichsen Anamnesis is becoming more up-tempo and quite heavy in its second half with driving guitars and vocals that are getting into a range which might be difficult to support for some people. Actually there is a warning on the CD, that its dynamic range would test the limits of your sound system. The outro of the song has a very nice symphonic sound with church organ and woodwinds. Papermoon is a very nice song as well with excellent instrumental sections. It starts with soft piano, then keyboards and drums are setting with vocals that are sometimes vocodered. The final instrumental part is really great. The Crucible is an instrumental track very much in a classical (Renaissance era) vein combining flutes, recorders and organ. Especially the flutes are giving it a bit of JETHRO TULL-reminiscence. The Last Rose Of Summer is very folk-ish with acoustic guitar, flute and shared vocals between Jacob Holm-Lupo and Sylvia. It's the only song on the album which is mellow in its whole. Gnostolgia is a very mystical one starting again softly with acoustic guitar, woodwinds and vocals. Most of the song is rather quiet apart of a short section with electric guitar towards the end. In the last song The Reach the refrain is based on a nursery rhyme. It sounds very dark and enigmatic and is the most "heavy" one of the album.

As a summary SACRAMENT is an excellent melancholic album with not any weak song. Without any doubts it's better than their two previous ones. But to discover fully its beauty and appreciate its qualities I would recommend to listen to it using headphones.

Edited 09/27/05!

I'm very close to give it the full score, but since it might not appeal to any prog fan, I'm reducing to 4 stars (but 4,5 in real!).

Review by NJprogfan
4 stars Have you ever thrown on an album, listened to it at a normal volume and then turned it up because the music was soft? Then WHAM!, a sudden sonic explosion blasts from your speakers. That's my brief description of this disc. Well, not really ;-P. I will say that it comes close. What we have here is an album that musically is delicate and fragile with bursts of energy in spots. Sylvia Erichsen's voice is very child-like, but she can belt out when need be. They use a multitude of instruments with finesse, with wind instruments coloring songs magnificently. Although they don't sound like many other bands, King Crimson's early to mid-period jumps up ever once in awhile. There's a definate 70's vibe. With space between instruments, there's not that 'fill up every space with sound' that permeates many modern bands songs. It sounds SO ambient and that's it's only drawback. Nothing actually sticks, but it sure is damn pretty! 3.75 stars.
Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Sacrament" is White Willow's third release, an amazing album that finds the band reinforcing the stylistic maturity that had already been reached at, albeit not totally accomplished in a cohesive whole, in their previous album "Ex Tenebris". This means that the bucolic and the dramatic facets of White Willow's musical vision are more successfully integrated in this album than in the aforesaid one, although it's easy to notice that in many ways "Sacrament" follows in the footsteps of its distinguished predecessor. The fact is that this third effort encapsulates the ultimate symphonic expression of White Willow's mysterious sonic essence. But let's not dismiss their debut album's heritage either: in fact, "Sacrament" can be described as a creative recapitulation of the predominately intimate ambiences of "Ignis Fatuus" and the raw intensity of "Ex Tenebris", with a statement that stands a bit closer to the latter. The first two tracks might as well serve as symptomatic samples of this strategy - taking the best of both previous albums in order to catapult themselves into richer musical realms. 'Anamnesis' works perfectly as an opener for the album, reiterating the now typical WW mood in a reflective and moderately somber spirit. The most recurring muse for Scandinavian retro-prog bands, Sinfield-era KC, comes to mind. Although the track keeps a permanent slow rhythm pace through its 9+ minute span, it doesn't feel boring or meandering, thanks to its intensity and solid structure. The explosive finale is a most accomplished climax, making it one of the album's brightest moments. Things get a bit more elaborated and bit less epic in 'Paper Moon', a piece that comprises some of the most impressive Moog solos and mellotron layers in the album - typical Scandinavian sound. 'The Crucible' is the album's instrumental, a piece in which the woodwinds take the starring role: in no small degree, this helps the instrumentation to assume a more colorful mood. Additionally, the notable use of various motifs in a cohesive continuum allows the band to explore a major range of pastoral color and dynamics in a typically progressive vein. No WW album is an authentic WW item without a short acoustic bucolic ballad, and this is when 'The Last Rose of Summer' appears, a brief prelude of solace before the last two tracks, each one surpassing the 10 minute frontier. 'Gnostalgia' pretty much follows the path of the opener 'Anamnesis', especially regarding the massive display of reflective vibes and nostalgia (I'm afraid I couldn't avoid this intended pun). Meanwhile, 'The Reach' goes to far more places, allowing the band indulge themselves in a well ordained sequence of intense deepening in structured motifs, handle tempo and mood shifts with excellent proficiency and keep things equally energetic for both the calm and the bombastic sections. This may be arguably the best WW composition ever, at least when it comes to the usually pretentious standards of symphonic prog's tradition. It took a while for WW to create the follow-up to this progressive gem of our times ("Storm Season"), but that's a story for another review. Let's just say, as a conclusion, that "Sacrament" is one of the most impressive prog albums to come out for the last 10 years. All the usual ingredients of Scandinavian prog revival are there, yet they bear a fresh feel: no way to deny that White Willow is and has always been one of the most talented forces of the current prog scene.
Review by sleeper
4 stars Sacrament is the third album from White Willow and continues with many of the themes that we had come to recognize as being White Willow. This album has yet another change in the band line up and has a more even mix of Folk with Symphonic Prog.

The biggest difference I notice here is that the Folk influence is vastly reduced to the start of two songs, the opener Anamnesis and the instrumental of the album, The Crucible. As a result I would say that this album is almost entirely Symphonic in its nature, and to be honest I think it suit's the band better. The bass on Sacrament has also become more prominent than on the two previous album, Ignis Fatuus and Ex Tenebris, as well as the guitars becoming slightly heavier in parts and I feel this is another good change for the band, partly as its a big help in preventing them from just repeating what they have already done.

This album does encapsulate the best elements from the first two albums, it has the strength in the composition and the mixing and build up of instrumentation that made Ignis Fatuus so strong, and added that to the more striped down element of Ex Tenebris. I know that sounds rather contradictory but it results in an album where the songs change from one to the other, either through slow build up or sudden change, giving it a real dynamic. The other good thing is that, with the exception of The Last Rose of Summer (the only song in the White Willow discography that mastermind Jacob C. Holm-Lupo takes lead vocals) the short songs have been done away with nearly entirely. These shorter songs tended to be the weak tracks on previous White Willow albums, especially the sub 3 minute ones on Ignis Fatuus, but without them it allows the flow of the album to build.

In my opinion there isn't actually a weak track here on Sacrament, in the sense that one is a bad song. The previously mentioned The Last Rose of Summer, is the only track that doesn't hold up compared to the rest of the album though. Its basically an acoustic ballad and, though its got some nice guitar work and its interesting to here the mix of Holm-Lupo's and Sylvia Erichsen's voices, it's a bit out of place, it probably would have worked better if it was placed before The Crucible as it would work as a lead in to this instrumental.

Anamnesis is the track that combines the merits of the first two albums best. For the first 4-5 minutes of the song its plays along in a similar style to the previous album, namely its very soft with only a couple instruments playing and Erichsen singing in a very soft voice. However this all changes when the whole band jumps into the fray with something much more powerful and Erichsen's vocal style abruptly changes to something more harsh and very different to what she's just being doing, it's the sheer contrast that really jumps at you.

The crucible follows similar lines musically, though without such a sharp contrast as Anamnesis as the style of the song is more lush than striped down. Gnostalgia is a beautiful and haunting song dominated by the acoustic guitar work of Holm-Lupo and the flute work of Ketil Vestrum Einarsen. This song quite clearly shows the roots of the band in making long, flowing, soft and above all, hauntingly beautiful music that they excel at, I would go as far to say that Gnostalgia is probably the bands strongest song in this vain, at least as good as Cryptomenysis, John Dee's Lament and . A Dance Of Shadows, though for the life of me I havn't a clue why they spelt it with a G. The final song to the album, The Reach, begins by successfully creeping out the listener thanks to Sylvia Erichsen's vocals, something she does very well at intermittent points throughout the song. The whole song gives of a dark, brooding atmosphere led by a driving, and unusually prominent, bass line from Johannes Sæbøe. This is the strongest, and as a result my personal favourite, composition here as each instrument gets to take its turn in the spotlight at some point without ever feeling contrived or forced, that includes the vocals, a must listen for fans of Symphonic prog.

The biggest problem that I have with this album is that it feels just too short to me, though its not much shorter, if at all, than the previous album and the following two. It may be that because there are only 6 songs it just seems that it goes fast. I guess it's a strength when a song is so captivating that 10 minutes feels like 6, and this happens on all three 10 minute songs here (Anamnesis, Gnostalgia and The Reach), but I do wish they had recorded another song for this album. Sacrament is a fantastic album that I give 4.5 stars to, but wont round up to 5 because its not a masterpiece due to the song The Last Rose of Summer and the fact that it feels too short. I highly recommend that you get it anyway.

Review by Menswear
4 stars A safe investment.

When it comes to White Willow, I've never been disappointed yet. Their songs are somewhat fresh and accessible; a style we don't see enough of. By that I mean the scandinavian side of prog is certainly a good alternative to metal mashers or néo clones.

And frankly, this is why I'm attracted to this band: it's a nice Norway folk touch with the vintage keyboards of Wobbler and the european voice of Hooverphonic. White Willow is certainly a band that is not hard to get into: easy to remember choruses and melodies (Paper Moon) topped with soft and attractive vocals. They inspire themselves from Jethro Tull, Anglagard and Sinkadus, but spiced up with radio-friendly touches without being too gloomy or melancholic (unlike Liquid Scarlet or Anekdoten).

The pop lovers (read girlfriends and wives) won't be afraid of the progressive side because it's so light and yet, makes a good change of pace in the section.

White Willow has a good quality: they don't serve reheated material but still uses the same recipe often. Contradiction? No. It takes good writing and a professional conscience to not bore us throughout a well oiled routine and, happy day for us, they did it again!

A good record to get an idea of the kind of accessible and foggy/ fantasy music they treat us. Not a crazy masterpiece, but deserving more attention because of it's constant writing quality­. My perfect example of a well balanced product with hooks and professionnalism.

Woo hoo.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is WHITE WILLOW's third release and only band leader and guitarist Jacob Holm-Lupo and vocalist Sylvia Erichsen remain. Of the first three releases this is my favourite even though this has the least amount of mellotron on it. Actually the reason for that might be because Jacob had the responsibility to play it on this album.

The album starts off with "Anamnesis" my favourite song on the record. It begins with gentle acoustic guitar and those angelic vocals. We are then treated to a prolonged flute solo and then the vocals come back and some organ. After 5 minutes the song explodes with a guitar solo followed by some aggressive vocals (not so angelic now, haha). The instrumental passage that comes next is amazing ! An organ,guitar and drum melody follows eventually joined by flute. This is great ! "Paper Moon" has a beatiful sounding intro. The drums slowly pound as Sylvia sings away. Check out the soundscape 3 1/2 minutes in.This is a very accessible tune. "The Crucible" is an instrumental.The classical guitar is a nice touch and there is lots of flute as well as organ. Mellotron then floods the song. 3 1/2 minutes in the song changes drastically to an uptempo ANGLAGARD-like melody. Some scorching guitar before 7 minutes to end the song in a dramatic way. This gives us a glimpse of what will come on their next release "Storm Season".

"The Last Rose Of Summer" opens with pastoral flute and acoustic guitar. Male vocals for the first time that actually remind me of SIMON & GARFUNKLE. This is a reflective tune with meaningful lyrics that even mention a willow. Flute comes in and female vocals join the male vocals. "Gnostalgia" is a scandanavian folk song that would have fit well on either of their two earlier albums. Acoustic guitar and vocals to begin then there is a lot of flute that follows and mellotron before 7 minutes. "The Reach" opens with Sylvia singing a nursery rhyme with her voice ending on a sinister note. Some good guitar 2 minutes in and the song eventually speeds up to a full sound. Tempo and mood shifts continue as we get some mellotron as well. The song ends as it began with the quoting of the nursery rhyme. This song is my second favourite with "The Crucible" in third place.

This is easily a four star record, and I would rank this and the debut as my favourites.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars When I listen to White Willow, I feel the need to rush indoors, start a fire and curl up in a blanket. Then I realize I am already indoors and the temperature is 20C (68F). Is this a good thing or a bad thing? With White Willow, the answer is.....yes. It's both.

The chill helps to paint a more vivid aural image than in most prog. You can almost imagine a nearly 24 hour dusk when listening to the longer songs especially. Some parts, especially the very quiet segments and those with flute, are nearly pure magic. The band knows the power of restraint, and also tries with little success to vary the tempo; they too often lapse into maddening minimalism when they get heavier. The variability does not extend the palate of overall hues, which is a shame. It's nearly always depressive in one manner or another. For the most part, White Willow's music doesn't get to my molten core, and this is largely, I believe, because of the lack of real contrasts in mood and vocal expressions.

The best tracks are those that do not try to take us from quietly somber to suicidally somber, particularly the melodic peak of "Paper Moon" and "The Last Rose of Summer", although "Gnostalgia" is the most cohesive and compelling of the extended pieces. While "The Reach" has its moments, and the "Ring around the Rosie" chorus is oddly befitting of White Willow, it's just a bit too weird, not to mention disturbing. The dark night of the soul is a much more tolerable place to be when one can sense the encroaching dawn.

While decent enough, "Sacrament" will probably be my last such arboreal foray, as I remain only mildly inspired even after multiple visits to the wood.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Sacrament is the third installment of Jacob Holm-Lupo's White Willow project, a constantly evolving Nordic extravaganza, which started out as highly pastoral (the bucolic Ignis Fatuus) and slowly morphing into some more familiar Scandinavian proglands (somber moods, churning guitars, ravaging Rickenbacker bass, fleeting flutes, chilled cellos and heavenly vocals). The back cover of the CD issues the following warning: "the extreme dynamic range of White Willow's music will test the limits of your sound system. Please listen with extreme caution". Err, Okay! On the icebreaker "Anamnesis", Sylvia Erichsen supplies some almost angelic Gothic voices until she unleashes some seriously deranged hysterics that will please the alternative crowd to no end, loaded with searing lead electric guitars slashes. "Paper Moon" is introduced by some sprightly synthesizer patterns, held together by rumbling bass supported by solid drumming, and elevating Sylvia's childlike vocals to dreamy levels. Holm-Lupo spices the proceedings with a jagged guitar excursion, keeping the mood ominous yet fragile. This is really interesting stuff and highly enjoyable. The instrumental "The Crucible" kicks off in medieval light, the gently strumming troubadour prancing with the flautist, bowing to the accordion with the subtle choir mellotron (and I am a huge sucker for that sound) taking slowly over as the simple beat keeps time. Suddenly, the rhythm section kicks this mother into overdrive, with the flute going Mel Collins-crazy, the bass popping relentlessly and the cymbals flaying mercilessly. A sibilant synth solo zips along with total abandon, handing the torch over to a blistering guitar lead that shears the ivy right off the castle walls. Dungeon music at its finest, I say. "The Last Rose of Summer" is all Holm-Lupo on acoustic guitar and sharing vocals with Sylvia, covering nostalgia drenched themes of imminent winter gloom. "Gnostalgia" has some spirited playing by all, with Ketil Einarsen's flute delivering the main theme in gentle bereavement, dueling with a mournful oboe espousing its own pain but when the choir mellotron elevates Sylvia's sad lament, this piece veers straight into serious Prog Heaven. (Flute and choir is just a monstrous combo). " The Reach" is the final nail in the coffin and the tour de force here as Sylvia intones the kindergarten classic "Ring around the Rosies", only ushering in the swerving Johannes Saeboe bass propelled melody, pushed by more flute and lead guitar with Aage Schou shining on the drum kit. The music is severely unsettling , like a good horror movie where the suspense is subtle (as opposed to gory)and sealed by a savage Holm-Lupo six string blowout, some tremulous synths and the wildest vocals anywhere. While still not in the same province as their stunning debut, one cannot claim that this Norwegian troupe is not discovering new territories and stretching the frontiers of progressive rock. 4 frigid fjords.
Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A study in contrasts

At times very cold and wintery in emotion, other times like a warm hug. Dark and light. Soft and heavy. And so on. From the very first track "anamnesis" the soft sunny opening turns to a violent thunderstorm in short order. Sylvia's vocal starts out very woodland pixie and ends up sounding like a Siouxsie sneer later in the song. Interesting melodies abound and there are lots of great keyboards, flutes, recorders, and percussions. Everything on paper should just make this an unforgettable experience and yet it still fails to firmly grab me, and this is one of those times where I'm at a near total loss to explain why, which always bothers me. One thing I will say is that compositionally it seems overwhelmingly atmospheric with little of the direct emotional appeal I generally crave. I do like some atmospherics but I also need something that will look me square in the eye-if that makes any sense! (The same reason I would prefer Animals or The Wall over Meddle.) The do finally get there by the last track "The Reach" which opens things up and really roars with a dynamic rocking sound that I appreciated after so much moonlight folk feel. That one grabbed me. I should like this more than I do-yet I have to really force myself to play it and then I'm always looking at my watch. Sad really, because I acknowledge that it's pretty tasty stuff musically. So I'm afraid I can be of very little help on this title. Gorgeous instrumental work over lovely female vocals with a very north woods vibe and yet I can only mildly recommend it. While most reviews are praising I did find one gent on another site who had a line I couldn't resist sharing. "This is one of those records that sounds pretty good when you listen to them but afterwards you totally forget them for two years into your record collection." I think it might be three years for me. 5/10

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars This third album form White Willow is definitely better than their previous Ex Tenebris but there is still one thing that annoys me quite a lot here: the vocals from Sylvia Erichsen. Closer to laments and very childish IMO (but I already outlined this for Ex Tenebris . And it draws this album in the downwards direction.

It is sad because the instrumental parts are dark, rich and very well performed. The cold beauty of Anamnesis has an enormous emotional power: it is really a moving track. I wish it could have been an all instrumental piece of music. It is almost a highlight.

I am comforted into my feeling while I listen to The Crucible: a wonderful and poignant track. It is a true gem of symphonic music and holds a superb and magnificent fluting. It is my favourite numbers from this album; no wonder that it is an instrumental one. The closing electric guitar part is just sumptuous but the whole is a marvel of song and deserves the title of masterpiece.

Gnostalgia is a pastoral song that will remind you of the great Trespass. Emotive acoustic guitar combined with sweet fluting. Did I say Trespass? The band could have called this Nostalgia, right? This song holds a lot of the excellent wave of Swedish bands from the nineties. It is another highlight.

The dark mood, the sobriety and the beauty of the closing number is another fine moment from this album. At this point, there is no hesitation: this is a very good album. The Reach is a perfect summary of this album. It has it all: tranquil coldness, immaculate beauty, emotional parts. In all, it is another highlight from Sacrament.

This album is fortunately mostly instrumental and therefore I wouldn't take off a star from my rating because of the weak vocals. Four stars. My favourite White Willow album so far.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Sacrament is the album where it all came together for White Willow, with the compositional structures of the songs matching soft and mystical folk sections with more forthright prog rock outbursts. The real key to making these two halves form a cohesive whole is the consistent atmosphere between the two, which draws deeply from the dark waters of gothic rock in order to bridge the gap between the quiet and loud sections. Like The Violet Hour before them, White Willow explore a territory existing partway between Pink Floyd and All About Eve, and they bring back treasure nobody ever expected to find in such an apparently cold and barren landscape.
Review by b_olariu
3 stars White Willow is a band that I know for years but never was able until 2009 to get hold of one of their albums, is the third release from 2000 named Sacrament. To tell the truth at first spin I was disappointed, to mellow and to slow musical portions are present. After more spins the album begun to grow slowly but sure. Now I considered this release quite good even great in some parts. The combination of folk almost pastoral at times atmosphere with some symphonic passages the result is pretty much ok. Opning with a mellow tune Anamnesis combined with some edgy moments, that did nothing for my ears only from third piece The Crucible - White Willow manage to really capture my attention. Is an instruments track that beggins slowly and with mellow passaged and then after 3 min it dransforming in some killer tune with amazing musicianship and super arrangements. The flute , keyboards are absolutly killer here, very strong, the combination in a perfect mix between folk passages with some symphonic ones are top notch. Another highlight is the ending tine The Reach with some nice tempo changes from slow to more up tempo, nice breaks and the heavines is very well presented in this song, 11 min of grandious prog. In the end a very nice album, some considered their best, maybe, I only know this one and their newest one Terminal twilight from lats year and is definetly better then that one, but I do not see Sacement a truly great and inovative album, only some pieces are strong from 6 tracks only 3 are really good the rest are ok but nothing more. 3 stars maybe 3.5 in some places, anyway good album that needs attention.
Review by kev rowland
4 stars This is the third album by Norwegian act White Willow, but is the first that I have heard. I know that the debut 'Ignis Fatuus' caused quite a stir when it came out in 1995, but I never got around to getting it. I am now wondering what I have missed as this is a prog album of some depth. Vocalist Sylvia Erichsen is similar to Annie Haslam, and the music comes across as a mixture of King Crimson/Jethro Tull and even Gryphon. There is a lot of space in the music, and although there are three keyboard players in the band the music is still very guitar based.

Lots of acoustic guitar (and as the press release states that this is their heaviest release I wonder what the others were like), and reflection but this is not New Age at all. Jacob Holm-Lupo (who provides much of the material, as well as playing guitars /keys) harmonises well with Sylvia, and songs such as "The Last Rose Of Summer" are a sheer delight. Definitely one to savour.

Originally appeared in Feedback #60

Review by Second Life Syndrome
5 stars Wow! I went into this album with absolutely no expectations, and White Willow blew me away handily. This symphonic prog band is also very folksy, and this can be seen in the intense flute and stunning arrangements. This album may contain the best flute I've ever heard, and that's really saying something.

The female vocals are also particularly beauteous. The thick, fairy tale atmospheres are broken by the sharp and gorgeous vox. They really balanced each other well. I was also highly impressed with the funky bass lines that give the whole album some zip and zap.

Honestly, halfway through the first track, Anamnesis, I was still confused. Suddenly, everything made sense, and the rest of the album floored me. My favorites are the aforementioned track, Paper Moon, and Gnostalgia. These tracks are simply rich, playful, and quite impressive as well on a technical basis. I'll be sure to listen to the rest of this band's discography.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Come 2000 and Holm-Lupo would whip up the musicians for a third White Willow production.Sylvia Erichsen was the only person remaining from the previous album and she was to be surrounded by a fresh core, like unknown keyboardist Brynjar Dambo, who has to fill the shoes of the departing Jan Tariq Rahman, bassist Johannes Saboe, drummer Aage Moltke Schou and flutist Ketil Vestrum Einarsen, future member of Jaga Jazzist, The Opium Cartel and Kaukasus.The album was titled ''Sacrament'', released again on Laser's Edge.

Six rather long pieces with Folk and Classical orientations, offered via the spectrum of progressive music, are what White Willow were best at and ''Sacrament'' continues this extended tradition of electroacoustic soundscapes by the Norwegians, fronted by the charesmatic talents of Homo-Lupo.It's something that should be called actually like Rural Scandinavian Winter Prog, as the music contains soundimages from the Scandinavian countries along with a wide range of different emotions depending on the piece, mostly the melancholic nuances of the North-European lands.But the ethereal, childish voice of Ketil Vestrum Einarsen make her sound like a fairy in a world of woods.''Sacrament'' is above all a deeply symphonic album, speaking about the way the compositions are arranged, even if the Folk inspirations are more than evident.The tracks are full of Mellotron, light organ parts, carefully used synthesizers and pianos, featuring also domestic sounds coming out of Einarsen's flute with Holm-Lupo being responible basically for the electroacoustic moves on guitar.Once you will get used to the sweet themes of the flute, piano and acoustic guitars, a little explosion will transform you into the electric world of White Willow with the impressive interplays and the monster symphonic lines of the Mellotron and Hammond organ, delivering a grandiose atmosphere reminiscent of ANGLAGARD and MARCO ANTONIO ARAUJO.Beautiful music indeed with a couple of stunning pieces like ''Anamnesis'' and ''The reach''.

Another solid album by White Willow, the band deserves every penny if you buy the album.Dark Symphonic Rock with an acoustic background, flavored by a nice female singer.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars An oddly engineered album of fine prog songs from these adventurous Norwegian prog revivalists--their third, second with lead singer Sylvia Erichson.

1. "Anamnesis" (9:11) a very gentle, spacious opening with a wonderful reminder of the talents of singer Sylvia Erichson. Such a delicate pastoral weave as this is such a welcome change from the usual prog bombast. Sylvia's nearly a cappella folk performance in the fifth and sixth minutes confirms how folk-based this music is. Even when it gets amped up at the end of the sixth minute it still retains a folk rock feel to it. The church organ YES-like section building and developing in the eighth minute is quite well done. Impressive! (17.75/20)

2. "Paper Moon" (6:44) weird sound engineering, weird vocal on this NeoProg song but I like the instrumental section in the fourth minute and the clarity given each track. (8.75/10)

3. "The Crucible" (7:32) opening with anachronistic folk guitar, flutes and recorders, and more traditional street-performing percussion instruments is a brilliant move. The collective weave is right in line with that "mediæval" or old folk sound that I think the band was going for. Flautist Ketil Vestrum Einarsen even leads with some melodica in the third minute before music ramps up into the more rock realms of prog rock. Despite the pulsing Genesis foundation over the course of the final four minutes of this, the wind instruments and pseudo wind synthesizers and other keyboards maintain a kind of folk conversationality to the lead instruments on the top. The music moves into a summatory motif for the song's final 30 seconds. Interesting finish--a little inconsistent with all that had transpired leading up to that point. (13.25/15)

4. "The Last Rose of Summer" (3:23) acoustic guitar and flute performing a very relaxing folk duet are suddenly joined by the very pleasant (very Anthony Phillips-like) doubled up voice of Jacob Holm-Lupo. Definitely a folk song. Beautiful. Jacob is joined by the lovely voice of Sylvia Erichsen to sing the lyrics in beautifully harmonized fashion. Lacking the melodic and lyrical hooks to make this a classic, it is, still, quite lovely--beautifully composed and performed. (9/10)

5. "Gnostalgia" (10:18) another gentle, oft-times ethereal folk-rock-like song and soundscape quite reminiscent of the work being done at the same time by prog folk band IONA. Gorgeous multi-reed led instrumental passage in the bucolic sixth minute with flute and oboe weaving in and out of each other's melody lines so perfectly. Unfortunately, it is the vocal passages taht are the most incongruous in the song, often upsetting the perfect pastoral tapestry and mood set down by the instruments. At the eight minute mark the band amps things up a little with the drums and foundational instruments like bass and Mellotron--a bit like Änglagård here. The carefree, quiet, lilting final minute is quite a nice send off. (17.5/20)

6. "The Reach" (10:59) ominous bass drone and flute melody build as Sylvia recites the "Ring-a-ring of roses" nursery rhyme in a crazed, voice. As soon as she finishes, the band launches into a rather jazzy rock direction while flute soars into the sky like a playful, active bird. At the three-minute mark everything shuts down to make space for Sylvia's still-scary recitation of some other dark poem. The next instrumental foray is more blues rock oriented with Hammond organ dominating the foundation as Sylvia sings in a low tone a new and different poem. A weird song that covers a lot of musical territory in the apparent effort of presenting some rather somber literary passages. Theatric and exploratory if nebulous in intent. (17.25/20)

Total Time: 48:09

An album I like far more than my rating scores would seem to indicate. The subtly folk-infused weaves are magnificent. What I think is lacking are the melodic or dynamic hooks and and heights that one would hope for in order to make it (or any song) particularly memorable.

B+/four stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Prog Treasure. This is review of 2014 Remastered Expanded Edition, that came in gorgeous 3 panels Digipack with small booklet in the trunk, tastefully done mostly in classy black and white style. (Black spine will protect the cover from the sunlight - nice touch.) I've been waiting for 14 ye ... (read more)

Report this review (#1279258) | Posted by toilet_doctor | Thursday, September 18, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is an exceptionally great record! As are all White Willow records. There are so fine compositional elements and great arrangement. The use of massive bass sounds together with the singers fragile voice is masterly done. The music is spacious all the time even when the band plays loud. The ... (read more)

Report this review (#80840) | Posted by pirkka | Saturday, June 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars It is strange, that I have missed such interesting collective as White Willow. Besides, it is the first prog-band from Norway, that I have heard. It has appeared, it is very qualitative prog-rock. Besides, the group very actively uses a flute that forces to recollect Ian Anderson and Jethro Tu ... (read more)

Report this review (#68755) | Posted by Serb | Wednesday, February 8, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars More polished but less interesting than Ignis Fatuus. Still maintains the distinctive style mixing strong female vocals like Renaissance, acceptable but unmemorable melodies like Solaris, and bass-heavy instrumentation and slowly changing song structures like Camel or Minimum Vital. Very listenable ... (read more)

Report this review (#7680) | Posted by BGrosjean | Thursday, January 15, 2004 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of WHITE WILLOW "Sacrament"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.