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wardruna kvitravn
Artist: Wardruna
Title: Kvitravn
Genre: Norse Folk / Pagan / Ethnic / Metal
Release Date: 22nd January 2021
Label: Sony Music / Columbia


Album Review

I looked forward to the release of this album on the 22nd of January and when I first delved into the tracks within, I was not sure what to make of it so I held off formulating thoughts for a while and decided that an extended bout of listening over a week or two would help the words to form. The album was supposed to be released last year but due to the “The Plague” it was put back until this year. All things good come to those who wait...

Now after repeated listens and repeated views of the videos on YouTube I am now in a position to offer some thoughts. This is very much a progression from previous albums in the sense that it feels like a coming-of-age album. It feels that a period of time is coming to an end and a new one is birthing out of the embers of the dying one. To the uninitiated this album may seem to be like other WARDRUNA albums. Played with old Norse instruments that are sourced or made by Einar Selvik, the production may seem confined to the limits of the tools at hand but, but a lot of meaning and variation can be seduced out of these ancient tools if handled in the right way. The album also has a maturity to it, an insight, or a different insight that I’ve not heard before in other WARDRUNA albums. Sure, albums from the “Rune Series” have their seductive eerie charms and their hypnotic take on rune meanings.

‘Skald’ takes a journey into the poetry of ancient wordsmiths, WARDRUNA kingpin Einar Selvik recreating the vibes and meters for modern ears. ‘Kvitravn’ on the other hand is full of feelings of trepidation, reservations, exhilaration and anticipation. Well, to me this is how it feels anyway. Along with mournfulness and sorrows. There is a complexity to the simplicity, or is it the other way around? What I know is that I feel the old, the woody and the bone in a sound that is devoid of clutter. And above all, authentic. This is not pretentious, not in the least! It is not artificial, not in the least! Lindy Fay Hella weaves her magic on title track ‘Kvitravn’, I love the interplay between the two voices along with the sound of the lure which gives it emphasis. ‘Skugge’ (Shadow) broods beautifully in a cold fiery haze. The drone facilitates a glassy veneer to descend over my eyes as it locks me into the Norse vocals that exclaim: “Skugge, kan du svara? Svara som heile sanning eig! Eig Når eg fyl, kvi hastar du? Du finn eg deg,eg finn meg sjølv”. It is at this point that I’m subsumed into a shamanic dance around the kitchen oblivious to the culinary accoutrements that surround me...

Wolves howl and the drum beats. The dance continues! Bones tap and the vocal haunts. Lindy steps in and adds to the eerie haunting feel of this. I leave my body and travel to a dense forest. All around the smell of bark and the scent of wolves as they circle me in the shadows. I am at once enthralled and unnerved! This is ‘Gra’ (Grey). ‘Fylgjutal’ feels emphatic and stoic to begin with but takes on a more sombre tone as it progresses. So, does ‘Munin’ but with the addition of the Kravik Lyre the tones of which give it the aforementioned feel.

From wolves and ravens to the sounds of stag song echoing through dense trees accompanied by the sound of Lures. ‘Kvit Hort’ is expressive in simplicity and spine tingly, voices float in the background. Like a scarf being kept aloft by a gust of wind. I can see the stag stood in rays of sunlight, steam rising from its back as insects hover in the sunbeams. The stag, head back bellowing its song! ‘Viseveiding’ has Lindy opening with a vocal refrain that goes low and then high before Einar steps in. This track feels ominous in tone. Lindy then haunts the space with a beautiful chilliness. The sinewy strings of the Tagelharpa provide the drone which vibrates my own sinews in a not unpleasant manner. ‘Ni’ is evocative to the spirits. Here the many voices of a choir lift the magical spells up a notch. It’s funereal in tempo but does not feel mournful to me. More a hopeful procession!

To conclude the album there are two tracks ending in ‘Jod’, ‘Vindavlarjod’ evokes the windy slopes of a steep sided fjord great flute and ‘Andvevarljod’ takes me back to 8 years to ‘Runaljod’. But this time the voices of a choir give the stone and woody feel a more celestial veneer. It seems fitting that the final image to form inside my head is one of a silhouetted figure swirling a bull roarer on a rocky crag whilst a Solstafir lights the scene. In conclusion, this is an excellent album that carries on the WARDRUNA sound whilst retaining the space and natural authenticity. Less is more!


Tracklist

01. Synkverv
02. Kvitravn
03. Skugge
04. Gra
05. Fylgjutal
06. Munin
07. Kvit Hjort
08. Viseveiding
09. Ni
10. Vindavlarjod
11. Andvevarljod


Line-up

Einar Selvik - Vocals, songwriting, lyrics, Kravik Lyre, Trossingen Lyre, Langeleik, Crwth, Goat Horn, Lur, Moraharpa, Flute
Lindy Fay Hella - Vocals and songwriting


Website

http://www.wardruna.com/


Cover Picture

wardruna kvitravn


Rating

Music: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9 / 10




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