Listening to Wardruna’s music is akin to taking a deep dive within the human psyche. No matter where you’re from, their powerful sounds will transport you to the past and rouse an inner fire.
As their website describes, “Wardruna is a Norwegian musical constellation set out to explore and evoke the depths of Norse wisdom and spirituality.”
While popular in their own right, you may have heard Wardruna’s music on the HISTORY series Vikings. Although it romanticizes some aspects of Norse history, Vikings is a great show full of conflict and evolving characters (and to be fair, a show focused on the drudgery of farming probably wouldn’t elicit the same response).
This is where Wardruna’s songs serve to bridge a gap: between a living culture and the magic their history inspires. It’s easy to imagine battle-scarred warriors and elaborate rituals while listening to the group’s thrumming beats, but at the same time they evoke a sense of peace.
Each individual sound is rooted in the natural world. Wardruna’s music is heavily inspired by seiðr, galdr and runes, all forms of Nordic shamanism. Runes in particular are not only written characters, but can refer to magical songs from the Finnish tradition of folk medicine. The result is a primal yet emotional sound that connects with many listeners.
The group was formed in 2003 by Einer “Kvitrafn” Selvik, former drummer for the metal band Gorgoroth. Einer found his true calling in the thoughtful process of creating music for Wardruna, which utilizes historical instruments such as deer-hide frame drums, Kraviklyra, tagelharpe and more.
Einer has stated in interviews that he’s even had to build some of the instruments himself, and when using animal parts, he describes the process in a near-meditative way: as “bringing the animal back to life in a new form.”
The two songs above are some of my favorites. “Helvegen” begins with the sound of a rumbling storm, a strength which is echoed in the rich vocals and drum beats that follow.
“Løyndomsriss” is more subtle and mysterious in comparison. The chanting sounds almost sinister as instruments chime and drone at intervals, pumping like a heartbeat.
The name roughly translates to “secret sketch” and could represent the runes themselves.
Wardruna has toured all around the world and performed everywhere from festivals to ancient hillforts. To see if they might be raiding a location near you, be sure to check out their concert schedule.
Return to the Viking Age with Wardruna:
Image credit: Krystkowiak Photography.
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