Wardruna: Yggdrasil – album review
Wardruna – Yggdrasil (Indie Recordings)
Wardruna describe themselves as a Norwegian musical constellation set out to explore and evoke the depths of Norse Wisdom and Spirituality. Adrian Bloxham thinks this is a captivating and essential listen.
This is music made with traditional Norse instruments along with sounds made with rocks, water and torches. The lyrics are in Norwegian, Old Norse and Proto-Norse. These form the second part of what will eventually be a trilogy. This album has been produced while Wardruna have been adapting their music to a live setting and have played a handful of concerts…including one in front of the one thousand one hundred year old Gokstad ship at the Viking Ship Museum in Norway. The members of the group are Norwegian and have guests from Iceland on the album. They have taken the heathen history of the country and crafted this remarkable sound.
There is a dark history captured in the music, the tracks are based on runes from the elder futhark which is the oldest form of runic alphabet. They are reaching back away from the present into the feelings and sounds of their ancients. The spirits of the Old Norse Gods seem to be standing behind you as you listen, you can feel the splash of the water on your skin as you stand on the deck of a longboat and you can feel the mist parting and the fire blazing as you walk through the night.
It’s a wild and wonderful sound. I suppose it could be called folk, except I never felt like I had to turn the lights on when I listened to folk. Nature flows through this music, the blood flowing from a bite. The moonlight on a leafless tree, the harsh and brutal life in a snow covered forest. The chants give you a sense of primal fear, of not knowing what life will bring next and having to coldly accept this. The history that this music is steeped in is that of the Norse. I am no expert, but I remember the tales of the Vikings and of the Norse Gods from when I was a kid. This brings the memories of the stories and history I learnt to brilliant focus.
Wardruna are Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik in 2003, along with Kristian Espedal and Lindy Fay-Hella. is the songwriter and a multi instrumentalist, Fay-Hella and Espedal are the vocalists that weave their voices into this tapestry of sound. Espedal is also known as Gaahl, a part of the Black Metal scene in Norway, most notably the band Gorgoroth. To go from those extremes to this music could be seen as a return to the roots of the heathen sensibilities behind the extremes of Black Metal, to explore the history that formed you and make that into your art.
I would strongly recommend this album to anyone that wants to explore the textures and emotions of sound. It’s a remarkable piece of music, art and history.
All words by Adrian Bloxham. More work by Adrian on Louder than war can be found here.