This time in Tastebreakers we are looking at Norway's atmospheric and outstanding Wardruna.
Hailing from the frozen North, home of the Vikings, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Einar Kvitrafn Selvik dreamt up Wardruna in 2009 as a musical experience rather than a band as such. The debut album ‘gap var Ginnunga’, was the first part of a trilogy and was followed up with Yggdrasil in 2013 and Ragnarok completing the trilogy in 2016 and since then Skald was released in 2018. This trio of albums is, in Wardruna's own words, "A musical rendition of the 24 runes in what is often referred to as the elder futhark" Selvik goes on to explain that some of the recordings were conducted outdoors in "places or under circumstances of significance to each rune".
Selvik writes and performs every aspect of Wardruna's music using the oldest Norse instruments along with non-traditional instruments and other sources of sound like trees, rocks, water and torches. Combined with ancient poetry composition techniques and lyrics written in Norwegian, Norse and proto-Norse this creates music that can transport you back in time. Deeply ritualistic and incredibly beautiful Wardruna is hard to ignore with the captivating, raw nature of their tracks creating incredible imagery and intense soundscapes with incredible clarity.
Over time Selvik has teamed up with female vocalist Lindy-Fay Hella and has conceptual ideas pitched by Gaahl as well as forming a live band to perform on stage but their shows a few and far between creating an exclusivity around them, one such show was performed in front of the 1100-year-old Gokstad ship at the Viking Ship Museum in Selvik's native Norway.
Much like Danish folk breakout artist Heilung, Wardruna has grown a decent following over the years and have slowly found acceptance in the metal world which has a deep and fond connection with Scandinavia via their export of Black Metal.
Wardruna is well worth your attention if you're looking for something very different to mix things up with, a key player in the neofolk movement and deserving of your time. Sit back and give the music the immersion it deserves, strap on some headphones, relax and prepare to be transported to a paganistic world of old gods, rituals and tradition, you won't be disappointed.