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Wardruna * Runaljod – Ragnarok (cd 2016)

This is the third part of the “Runaljod” trilogy and consequentially the last one. The first two parts were released in 2009 and 2013.

On release of the debut, Wardruna caused quite a stir. Their dark, ritualistic Norse music was quite unheard of and the band gave some legendary shows at equally legendary locations. The fact that their music was used in the popular “Viking” series certainly added to the popularity. “Runaljod – Gap Var Ginnunga” is indeed an impressive album.
After quite a wait, “Runaljod – Yggdrasil” was released. The album is again certainly descent, but there the sound became a bit lighter with choirs and a bit of a ‘newagey’ tone. Looking back at my reviews of the previous two releases, it looks like I prefer the second album over the first, but in hindsight I think that the debut is better, the second is good, but less so as the first and now the third is again less good. At least, that is my impression of the moment.

Like I said, the second album was far less dark and many songs came with choir-like singing, perhaps having a faint reminiscence of Arcana. This path is continued on the third album. Most tracks are soft drumming with a couple of people chanting, one song even has a children’s choir. The music certainly is not bad and most of the time not boring, but I do think it is again a step away from the level of the debut album.

But of course this is just a matter of taste. Perhaps the trilogy has a rising course for you.

Links: Wardruna, ByNorse Music

Wardruna * Runaljod – Yggdrasil (cd 2013)

I did not know Wardruna before they played at the 2009 Dutch festival Incubate. Not that I saw them there, but I heard the name from that line-up. Soon after everybody seemed to know Wardruna. Goths, metalheads, heathens, the whole lot. It took Wardruna three years to come up with a follow up for “Gap Var Ginnunga “. Three years in which everybody apparently craved for this second album. It seems to have come with a bang and the craze is as big as three years ago. The sound remained the same. Shamanistic and sometimes dark, folky music with Norse lyrics. Most of the time you will hear just a steady drum, a stringed instrument, male and female chanting and sometimes low, male singing. The first time I listened to “Yggdrasil” I had the idea that the sound had become much lighter. The chanting sometimes reminds of ‘Amerindians’ and it all came to be a bit newagey. At midnight the sound seems quite alike that of the debut. Just like with the debut I can say that the sound of Wardruna is quite unique, at times pretty impressive, but not always convincing. Most of the time this is pretty good though.
Links: Wardruna, Indie Records

Wardruna * Runaljod – Gap Var Ginnunga (cd 2009)

Runaljod - Gap Var GinnungaI know, I know, I am a prejudiced music buyer. I heard about this band with a band name and album title that are obviously pagan, but I also heard that these are (ex-)black metal musicians, so I no longer felt the need to hear “Runaljod”. Wardruna happen to play at a festival in Tilburg where also Der Blutharsch and a couple of other bands that I want to see play (but not on the same day…), so I figured I might just try what this band is all about. Wardruna is nothing like neofolk like pagan music, but has a more traditional and also a more ritual or sjamanistic sound. Perhaps a tiny little bit like the early releases of Hagalaz’ Runedance, but more sedate. There is a nice mix between traditional and electronic sounds, variety in the use of vocals (from chanting to speech), soft drumming, but also some darker experiments. “Runaljod” might not be a masterpiece, but this is actually quite a nice album.
Links: Wardruna, Fimbuljóð Productions