thu 18/04/2024

Album: Wardruna - Kvitravn | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Wardruna - Kvitravn

Album: Wardruna - Kvitravn

Einar Selvik’s Norsemen prove to be meditative shamen rather than a Viking raiding party

Kvitravn: pagan drones

Norway’s Wardruna have proved to be an unlikely international musical success, both within Scandinavia and further afield, since releasing their 2009 debut album Runalijod – Gap Var Ginnunga.

In this time, Einar Selvik’s Norsemen have managed to draw fans from a broad variety of genres, including folk, world music, heavy metal and born-again Vikings, no doubt helped by their involvement in soundtracks for television dramas like Vikings and computer games like Assassin’s Creed.

Kvitravn, their fifth album, doesn’t much mess with Wardruna’s established formula, which falls somewhere between traditional Celtic folkies, Clannad and neo-pagan Swedish psychedelicists, Goat. As before, it delves deeply into Norse mythology, tapping into the wild Norwegian landscape and soaking up pagan themes aplenty via traditional instruments, like kravik-lyres, flutes and goat horns, samples of the natural world and soaring choral drones. There’s less use of pounding percussion than on previous discs like Runalijod – Ragnarok and also something of a drop in tempo, but Kvitravn won’t provide any shocks for long-time fans.

The melodic opening track, “Synkvarv” comes on like choral psychedelic folk music and is atmospheric and cinematic in scope, while the title track, which translates as White Raven – a sacred animal in Norse mythology that represents a bridge to change and enlightenment – is a gumbo of ambient samples, bowed instruments and choral backing with Selvik’s lead vocal dominating throughout. “Viseveiding” knocks the tempo up a couple of notches and has something of a neo-pagan forest rave sound, but by and large Kvitravn is a dark and measured invocation rather than the soundtrack to losing yourself in joyful and wild abandon.

Kvitravn has plenty of depth and could even (at a stretch) be described as meditative, scared music, while just about avoiding prog’s po-faced tendency towards self-indulgence. Nevertheless, a bit of liveliness to feed the listener’s inner berserker really wouldn’t have gone amiss.

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