Album Review: Wardruna – Kvitravn

Following their last release in 2018, another album has been eagerly awaited by all Wardruna fans. The standard has been set with previous releases and we are to expect nothing less from this record.

As a pose to the previous album Skald, a stripped back more intimate set up featuring Einar Selvik and his Kravic Lyre, Kvitravn showcases a full band of folk instruments and voices, summoning images of pagan ritual in the mind’s eye and sending powerful waves of energy through the listener.

Wardruna have many an accolade to their name since forming in 2003, including being internationally recognised and featured on History’s hit TV show ‘Vikings’. The final series of which has recently aired on Amazon Prime video. On which you can hear songs composed by front man Einar Selvik himself and see him make multiple cameo appearances.

The band have been partly responsible for a resurgence in interest of all things Old Norse in popular culture. However, in a recent YouTube video Selvik remarked, ‘I make music for the here and now, not as a form of escapism’.

Kvitravn translates to ‘white raven’, this being Selvik’s adopted stage name. However, the moniker carries a weight of its own, being a creature that frequently features in Norse mythology. Ravens represent ideas of thought and memory which are the very ideas explored in Wardruna’s latest release.

Focusing on the notions of paganism and animism, Kvitravn brings to light a very real issue that most humans can relate to. The issue being that we are much more disconnected from our animal counterparts and our natural environment than ever before. This is evident in the lyrics of all the songs, but most certainly in the words of ‘Grá’…

‘I remember when you roamed freely
I remember when we roamed together
I remember us before our paths got separated
I remember the ring before it broke’

Even if you aren’t familiar with Norwegian or Old Norse languages, Wardruna have beautifully translated lyric videos for us to follow on their YouTube channel.

The multi-instrumentalist and singer Einar Selvik has said ‘I think many of these old stories can be of great help today in re-connecting to our surroundings; to each other potentially as well. And that’s why we choose to give voice to certain things.’

We are taken on a spiritual journey through Kvitravn, it really is a sonic experience. As well as being created with historical Nordic and traditional instruments, the album also features a striking vocal performance from Lindy Fay Hella, who’s voice stays with you even after the album ends. In 1 hour and 4 minutes of epic cinematic sound, we are transported to the peaks of high mountains; the depths of dark forests, the crest of powerful waterfalls and the shadows of the human psyche. This album explores themes of deep human nature and our connection to our environment though history and the lessons passed on though tales of old.

The sentiment at the heart of this album is one deeply engrained in us all. It is this quality that resonates with so many people on so many different levels. The messages that transcend time through centuries of storytelling are alive in this collection of songs and will be heard and felt for centuries to come thanks to Wardruna.

Shannon Pearl

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