Album Title: 
Runaljod – gap var Ginnunga
Release Date: 
Monday, May 19, 2014
Review Type: 

Vinyl lovers rejoice...for Indie Recordings is re-issuing Warduna's debut album (originally released by the band in 2009, with the label release happening in 2012) on your beloved music carrier! For those unfamiliar with this Norwegian Dark Folk act, a short background.

The band was founded by siner/ multi-instrumentalist Einar Kvitrafn Selvik, whom you might know from one of his former bands (Det Hedenske Folk, Sagh, Gorgoroth, Dead To This World, Sigfader, Bak De Syv Fjell, and Mortify), or his current other band Jotunspor. Early on, he's made it a passionate hobby to study runes and Norwegian pagan beliefs, until in 2002 he felt the need to turn his findings into music, and the year after he started his first demo recordings of the project. With the help of his then Gorgoroth bandmate, singer Gaahl (real name Kristian Espedal; also known from having been in Sigfader, and currently also active in Trelldom, Gaahlskagg, and God Seed) the concept [about which you can read more at (www.) wardruna.com] and methods evolved over the years and slowly fell into place. With parts of the music (for the making of which he even went into making some instruments on his own) recorded in a studio (Einar's own Fimbulljóò, where also the mixing took place, done by one Herbrand Larsen) and parts in various outdoors locations between 2003 and 2008, final recordings for a first full-length album in a trilogy were eventually effectuated with female vocalist Lindy Fay Hella (and she truly has a bewitching high pitch!) and Hardanger fiddle player Hallvard Kleiveland contributing their parts, and the album was eventually self-released on January 19, 2009! Funny detail: news about the project already “leaked”, as some music was featured on the soundtrack of the much publicized documentary True Norwegian Black Metal. Made by Peter Beste, and dealing with Gaahl's part in the scene, the documentary was the cause of Wardruna getting a somewhat diverse fanbase, without even having an album out or having played gigs!

With the release imminent, a live line-up was established with the addition of extra male singer Arne Sandvoll, second Hardanger fiddle player Egil Furenes, and percussionist Erlend Gjerde (previously of Breed, Magenta, Djerv, and Stonegard)...meaning that in live setting Einar himself just takes care of extra male vocals and extra Hardanger fiddle (and some occasional extra percussion, I guess), and Lindy occasionally plays some flute (in between, someone possibly takes care of one of the other instruments, such as the tagelharpe, the mouth harp, the goat horn and the lur...but I have no idea of whom might perform which part). As you might gather from making a simple count, the vocals are a very important part of the band's sound. Done both in current-day Norwegian, old Norse, and proto-Norse, the vocals vary from mere whispers to layered chorals. On top then, comes the music, which also varies from a more simple approach with just one fiddle and drums, to a full-blown tapestry to fiddles sounds, with additional samples (the outdoors recordings including nature sounds are included in the music, where relevant to the rune in question) embellishing the whole. Since the release, music of the album has been used in the soundtrack of the highly successful History Channel TV-series Vikings!

If you're into darker music, and especially if you're into Folk Music, I recommend that you make an acquaintance with this really wacky band. To do so, you can surf to the “Music Player” section of the band's aforementioned site. I could not check what's posted there, as one gets re-directed to SoundCloud, and the outdated network PC I use for my info research would not allow me access...but I wa able to check the same site's “Videos” section, where several live clips are posted. To promote the re-issue of the album on LP, the label (who re-issued the album on CD first in 2012) decided to release a single for the album's track Löydomsriss (a video clip for which is posted not only on the band's site, but also at the label's).

End conclusion: as far as Folk Music goes, this is one of the most authentic I've come across in years. Still, what made me like it in the first place, is those occasionally placed high-pitched eerie female vocals...as they truly make a difference in the whole! Great stuff this, and no surprise to me that Wardruna was nominated for “Best Underground Band” in the Metal Hammer Golden Gods poll of 2014!