Wardruna Review Written By Timothy Voldemars Johnston
Wardruna is a Norwegian music constellation dedicated to creating musical renditions of ancient Norse and Nordic traditions. use a broad selection of both traditional and historical Nordic instruments. Non-traditional instruments and other sources of sound such as trees, stones, bones, water and fire are used to enhance the nature of the theme being portrayed.
As a live band Wardruna operates in various constellations of personnel but the standard configuration the last few years has been:
- Einar Selvik – Vocals, Taglharpa, Kravik-lyre, Bukkehorn
- Lindy-Fay Hella – Vocals
- Arne Sandvoll – Percussion, Backing vocals
- Eilif Gundersen – Bukkehorn, Lur, Flute, Backing vocals
- HC Dalgaard – Drums, Percussion, Backing vocals
- John Stenersen – Mora-harp
The day started as most others. Up at 6am, before the Sun even thinks of rising, and at work by 7. Nothing new there. Rainy and cold and unpleasant. Unlike my usual days, this day held the promise of magic. Of course, because the magic wasn’t to begin until the evening, the day felt double as long. The work day finally ended at 4, and I was to pick up two of my closet friends in Etobicoke and head through the absolute mess that is Downtown Toronto. Through the concrete tomb I drove, bumper to bumper, through miles of construction and bad drivers I traversed white knuckled. Finally, at 7pm, we arrived at our destination, the Meridian Hall. Flashbacks of being here just a few weeks ago for Heilung bring some energy to the walk over and in front of the venue we meet up with two more of my closet friends (both of whom had never heard of Wardruna and were going into this on my recommendation only). Then we’re all in. The place is packed, the energy is popping. The sound of people excitedly talking fills the “lobby”. We head downstairs to find the washrooms and I bump into another friend (Inertia entertainment, the host of the show) and we chat for a bit. He heads off and then back upstairs we go. The heat builds, and I’m back outside into the cold. As if it was meant to be, outside I run into my old Black Metal brother in arms Mark Howitt (Wolven Ancestry, NordiKult). After talking for a bit, my companions and I are back inside and down to our seats. I’m 4th row from the front. Right in the middle. Around 8:30 the lights go out and the magic begins. Wardruna. Not just music, but an experience. An ebb and flow of emotion and sonic textures, all punctuated by lights and colors and the subtle movements of the practitioners. The beauty of it was astounding. The sound filled the room and drew us all in, carrying us through a myriad of emotions and thoughts. Wonder and amazement could be seen in all the faces around me. Each time a song ended and faded to black, the audience roared in appreciation. After around an hour and a half, the show concluded with an encore of Einar’s solo song “Snake Pit Poetry”. What a show. The whole audience rose as one and cheered and sang praise for what we had all witnessed, for we all knew, this was something special, this was magic in the flesh. After the lights went up, I spent some time in the lobby area meeting up with my bandmate and his sons who gifted me an amazing carved stone necklace with featured skull and the Hagalaz rune on it. Also, the amazing photographer friend. Then I got to have a quick chat with two lovely lady friends. Then I met up with the friends I came with and we headed outside, where I was greeted by Michael Grund (Hexenklad) and his other band’s drummer. We chatted for a bit about what an amazing experience we just witnessed here and then we were off. Back through the concrete jungle and home. What an amazing night. Good music and great companions.