Nowadays it’s hard to get around Norwegian band Wardruna. Their popularity has increased immensely the last years. Where I remember standing in in little concert hall more than a decade ago with about twenty others to witness a rare performance, lately their gigs in front of a few hundred, not yet thousand heads counting crowd, sell out in only a few days, if not hours.
The Runaljod chapter has been closed a few years ago and with Kvitravn, Wardruna is bringing out their fifth full length already.
In a (digital) press conference we joined a few weeks ago, Einar describes his way of creating his music is probably different than most bands do. Where other bands might go jamming in a studio and create songs by inspirations they get by doing so, for Wardruna it works the other way around.
Einar explained how he for example likes to walk around in nature and opens himself, his ears and senses, up to inspiration. Back in the studio he tries to paint the picture of the experience by putting it into music and songs.
This might sound a little philosophic, but walking outside the past weeks, while listening to album finisher Andvevarljod, it makes a lot of sense to me. This song about the Norns (spirit weavers) gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it, and still does. The ambiance of the song is just about right. For me, Andvevarljod can be divided in three parts, the intro steadily builds up with calm chanting towards a story telling middle part, leading towards a dramatic feeling of destiny at the end created by the combinations of the chanting choir, Einar his almost crying out voice, the beating drums, the blowing horns makes that you don’t need to understand a word of Norwegian to understand this song, or the entire album. Without a doubt, for me this is the highlight of the album.
Even though the album is a bit more diverse than previous albums, those beating drums mentioned above, are returning in many of the songs are one of the binding factors.
The overall sound of the album is very familiar, especially songs like Grá, with Lindy-Fay Hella’s astonishing main role, title track Kvitravn and Fylgjutal, show a clear continuation of previous work; deep atmospheric, with beautiful interaction between Einar and Linda, the different instruments as the horns and strings, but also the elements of nature.
Those of you that think ‘Vindavlarljod sounds familiar too’, that’s right, since a different version of this song, Vindavla, can be found on the previous release, Skald.
Let’s talk other songs that stand out for me. First is Skugge. It’s not one of my personal favourites, yet I highly appreciate this song. It’s something different than most Wardruna songs. It’s slow and low, or maybe ‘deep’ would be a better definition. The song is mainly carried by those vocals, who are leading, and a lesser role is reserved for the instruments, besides the continuing beating drums.
Another one of the outstanding songs is Viseveiding. In the first place because of the amazing voice of Lindy-Fay Hella that rules this song. Besides that, a lot of different instruments are used here, which lines are flawlessly woven into each other. It gives the song a very loaded, but yet also light feeling.
Thematic of the runes may have been left behind, the core inspiration for Wardruna remains the same. Nordic nature, language and folklore have always been the centre of attention and are leading on Kvitravn as well. Different subjects pass by, but the album feels more personal inspired than previous albums.
Kvitravn, meaning ‘white raven’, has been Einar his stage name for years, and now carries the album.
The raven has always been a central figure in the Norwegian myths and symbolizes a bridge between worlds, between our world and nature, and places beyond, Einar explained, and no less than two songs are dedicated to the raven: title track Kvitravn and the skaldic song Munin, but the entire album carries a natured based theme.
With this, Wardruna is staying close to themselves and what they stand for, yet they created space for further exploration with a great end result: Kvitravn.
Review by Ingrid
Release date: January 22nd 2021
Record label: Sony/Columbia Records
• 1. Synkverv
• 2. Kvitravn
• 3. Skugge
• 4. Grá
• 5. Fylgjutal
• 6. Munin
• 7. Kvit hjort
• 8. Viseveiding
• 9. Ni
• 10. Vindavlarljod
• 11. Andvevarljod