New York By Norse Featuring Enslaved: Various Venues, New York

Enslaved, by Jonathan Arevalo Photography

Ragnarok is not a story about the end of the world. It is about nature. It is about the end of something and the beginning of others. A rebirth.” Continue reading

Einar Kvitrafn Selvik (Wardruna) Appearing On History Channel’s Vikings

Einar Kvitrafn Selvik of Wardruna will appear in History Channel’s Vikings series. Vikings is inspired by the sagas of Viking Ragnar Lothbrok, one of the best-known mythological Norse heroes and notorious as the scourge of England and France. It portrays Ragnar as a former farmer who rises to fame by successful raids into England with the support of his family and fellow warriors: his brother Rollo, his son Bjorn, and his wives-the shieldmaiden Lagertha and the princess Aslaug. WARDRUNA’s music has appeared widely in the series previously, and will also be found extensively in the series’ forthcoming season. Kvitrafn will appear in the third season, which is scheduled to air on February 19th, 2015.

“I really enjoy being a part of the musical artillery of the series and I was truly honored when production asked me if I was interested in making a small musical appearance in front of the camera as well,” Kvitrafn elaborates. “The production, director and actors was all very welcoming and so it was all in all a great experience for me! Before the first season was premiered,” he continues, “I was contacted by the production team because they wanted to license some songs. They were very pleased with how the music worked out and what it contributed to the show so they got in touch again for season two where they in addition to using WARDRUNA music asked if I would be interested in working together with the series’ award-winning composer, Trevor Morris. So we tried it and we all liked how it worked and we have continued our collaboration onto the score of the third season that premieres next week. It is great fun to be part of this and I’ve learn a lot from it. Even though the series, for several reasons, cannot create everything one-hundred-percent authentic they do have a genuine desire to do as much as they can to create a more nuanced and correct view on the Vikings and they constantly hunt for authentic details to include. It’s no secret that I am a Nordic-history nerd of giant proportions – therefore it is very pleasing when they ask me for such details from time to time.”

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Wardruna Releasing Yggdrasil on February 24th

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Wardruna is releasing the second release of the Runaljod trilogy called Yggdrasil on February 24, 2015 via Indie Recordings.

The ongoing Runaljod trilogy, which began with 2009’s Gap Var Ginnunga, is a musical rendition of the twenty-four runes in what is often referred to as the “elder futhark.” Some of the oldest of Nordic instruments such as primitive deer-hide frame drums, kraviklyra, tagelharpe, mouth harp, goat horn and lur are implemented, while poetic metres and lyrics are written in Norwegian, Old Norse and Proto-Norse tongue. Some of the recordings are captured outdoors or under circumstances of significance to each rune while other sources of sound like trees, rocks, water and torches are used. All of these elements are carefully woven into a rich musical landscape and complemented with whispering voices, melodic song and mighty choirs.

With Yggdrasil, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Einar Kvitrafn Selvik has, together with vocalists Kristian Espedal (aka Gaahl) and Lindy-Fay Hella, managed to create a strikingly beautiful and intense continuation of what was started with their first album, but without falling into the trap of merely repeating themselves. Yggdrasil is also graced with guest appearances by renowned Icelandic composer Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and Iceland’s leading rímur singer Steindór Andersen.

Yggdrasil was written and recorded by Kvitrafn from Spring 2010 to Winter 2012 at his own Fimbulljóð studio and various outdoor locations and will be made available for the first time in CD-digibook format via Indie Recordings on February 24th, 2014. The Yggdrasil digibook is the only version where you can find complete lyrics with English translations as well text on the runes.

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Wardruna – Runaljod Gap Var Ginnunga

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Since his departure from Gorgoroth, Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik set about creating a project steeped in the heritage of Nordic spiritualism which swept away any preconceptions the scene may have had when this release reared its head back in 2009. The initial chapter in a trilogy of albums based on ancient the Elder Futhark; the oldest form of runic alphabet popularised by northern European tribes, Runaljod Gap Var Ginnunga (Indie) is a compdlling journey throughout its fifty two minute duration.

That an album which features no distorted guitar, drums or modern instrumentation of any kind could capture the imagination of so many metal fans seems curious on the surface, but the nocturnal nature of compositions such as ‘Thurs’, with its mouth harp and homemade percussion delicately embellished with gorgeous hardanger fiddle, creates an experience which transcends genre. The ethereal vocals of Linda Fay Hella are breath-taking, yet over-shadowed by the sinister shaman that is Kvitrafn’s former Gorgoroth colleague Gaahl, whose trance inducing chanting lures the lister into the primordial depths of pre-Christian Norway.

The most apparent aspect of Runaljod… is how authentic it is. Much of this can be attributed to the use of real recordings of wind and other atmospheric effects which Einar himself acquired, rather than relying on synths. Acts like Finland’s Nest may have a similar approach but this work has more in common with the dark ambient genre.

Able to shift mood from menacing to enchantingly beautiful, the album has many stand out moments but is most rewarding when experienced in a single sitting and its strength lies in retaining a uniquely Norse atmosphere throughout which allows these unique compositions to really stand out.  The instrumentation here shows a remarkable sense of commitment to recreating the sounds of the early Norse tribes and throat singing, goat skull percussion instruments and all manner of curious items are employed here to great effect. Witness the foreboding ‘Thurs’, for proof.

A majestic journey into bygone times, Runaljod… is a stunning piece of work. This vinyl re-issue should only serve to whet the appetite of fans awaiting the forthcoming third chapter of this epic trilogy.

 

9.0/10

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ROSS BAKER

 

Roadburn Festival Announce New Additions

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Roadburn Festival has new additions to their 20th edition of the festival, taking place April 9-12, 2015 in Tilberg, The Netherlands.

Roadburn 2015’s curators Wardruna’s Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik and Enslaved’s Ivar Bjørnson have almost completed the line up for their event on Friday April 10. Loop main man, Robert Hampson and Swedish psych heroes, Agusa will both perform alongside Focus, Death Hawks, Sólstafir and others. BardSpec – the Ambient project/band from Enslaved composer/guitarist Ivar – will also perform at the event. Einar will present a workshop which will delve into his approach to music and the extensive creative concept behind Wardruna´s ongoing ‘Runaljod’ trilogy as well as his approach and study of the runes and other Norse esoteric arts. He will demonstrate a selection of the oldest Nordic instruments, play fully accoustic Wardruna music and there will also be time for questions from the audience.

Other bands added to the event include:

Briqueville
Moaning Cities
Your Highness
King Hiss
Tangled Horns
Ashtoreth
Miava
Gnaw Their Tongues
Abrahma
IZAH
Hypnos
Verbum Verus
City of Ships
Big Naturals
Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell
Death Penalty

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Enslaved and Wardruna To Perform Skuggsjá, The Sound of Norway’s Norse History at Roadburn Festival 2015

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More excellent news from our favorite music festival in the world this week. First Enslaved and Wardruna announce they will jointly perform Skuggsjá, an original piece dedicated to the 200th anniversary of Norway’s constitution. The Roadburn performance will be the first outside of Norway.

Then the festival released the original artowrk, by Arik Roper (Sleep, High on Fire, Earth, Weedeater, The Black Crows).

And the festival also announced the addition of more great bands such as Bongripper, Floor, Sólstafir, Virus, White Hills, Messenger, Junius, Skeletonwitch, Svartidaudi, Mortals & more.

Ticket Pre-Sales Start Thursday, Oct 16th 2014 at 21:00 CET; Pre-Sales Party at The 013 Venue (NL)

 

From The Press Release:

Roadburn Festival 2015 Ticket Pre-Sales Start Thursday, Oct 16th 2014 at 21:00 CET; Pre-Sales Party at The 013 Venue (NL)

Bongripper, Floor, Sólstafir, Virus, White Hills, Messenger, Junius, Skeletonwitch, Svartidaudi, Mortals, The Osiris Club and Zoltan also confirmed for the 20th edition of Roadburn Festival.

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We’re elated to announce that
Enslaved and Wardruna will perform Skuggsjá, the sound of Norway’s Norse History at Houses of the Holistic, Ivar Bjørnson‘s and Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik‘s curated Roadburn event on Friday, April 10 at the 013 venue inTilburg, The Netherlands.

Written by Bjørnson and Selvik for the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution and premiered this past weekend at the Eidsivablot festival, this will be Skuggsjá‘s first performance outside of Norway, and will certainly be one of the highlights of the 20th edition of Roadburn Festival.

Skuggsjá translates into ‘mirror’ or ‘reflection’ in the Norse language, and the commissioned piece not only contextualizes harder music’s role in the democracy in Norway in 2014, but also joins threads from the country’s ancient musical history and solidifies harder music’s position as Norway`s most important cultural export.

By highlighting ideas, traditions and instruments of their Norse past, Skuggsjá will tell the history of Norway and reflect relevant aspects from the past into the present day. In light of this they will reflect on themselves as a people and nation. In a magnificent tapestry of metal instrumentation, a wide variety of Norway and Scandinavia’s oldest instruments, and poetry in Proto-Scandinavian, Norse and Norwegian, Skuggsjá will be a fusion between past and present, both lyrically and musically.

We simply can’t wait to experience it ourselves, to hear how how Norwegian metal has developed from its rebellious roots into the highly acclaimed artistic expression of a complex music genre, under Norway’s constitutional right to freedom of speech.

In related news, Virus, Junius, Skeletonwitch, Svartidaudi and Icelandic heathensSólstafir, who are currently making huge waves with their latest release, Ótta, are also confirmed for Houses of the Holistic, Ivar Bjørnson‘s and Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik‘s curated Roadburn event on Friday, April 10 at the 013 venue.

Tickets for the 20th edition of Roadburn Festival, set for April 9 – 12 at the 013 venue inTilburg, The Netherlands, will go on sale on Thursday, October 16, 2014. Set your alarm and get ready to score your tickets at 21:00 CET!

The majority of Roadburners live outside The Netherlands, which is why ticket pre-sales will start at 21:00 CET. This should be convenient for most time zones. Apologies to our friends in Oceania who will have to wake up early (or just stay up late)!

We are pleased to report that there will be NO price increase this year. Three-day tickets will be available for 165 Euros (excl. servicefees); four-day tickets will cost 185 Euros (excl. service fees). Afterburner-only tickets will cost 32.50 Euros (excl. service fees). Please note that one-day tickets are not available for the Thursday, Friday or Saturday Roadburn dates. Online buyers can order a maximum of four tickets.

For everyone in the Netherlands and Belgium: we are aware that your local ticket outlets will not be open when pre-sales start, which is why we are throwing another pre-sales party at the 013 venue in Tilburg (NL). From 19:00 CET20:30 CET you will be able to purchase a maximum of four paper tickets for Roadburn Festival 2015. Guaranteed!

In addition to making it easy to get tickets, the pre-sales party is going to be a blast! This year, we have invited The Machine and Radar Men From The Moon to provide the soundtrack.

The live music part of the evening starts at 20:30 CET. Roadburn’s artistic director/promoter Walter Hoeijmakers will be on hand to share the latest festival updates, too.

Chicago instrumental band Bongripper will make a welcome return to the 20th edition of Roadburn Festival with two sets that feature their unique brand of devastating doom. The first will see them play their latest album, Miserable, in its entirety at the main stage onThursday, April 9. The second will be later that weekend (more info about the date to be determined).

If you are a fan of stellar riffs and molasses-thick distorted guitar tone, Floor has everything you want in music. These Floridian sludge/pop pioneers get a lot of comparisons to lead singer/guitarist Steve Brooks other band, Torche — and rightfully so — with his instantly recognizable singing style and guitar tone. Floor, however, is the essence of pure heaviness, with just a nod to the pop melodies that have spurred Torche on to crossover success. Come feel the downtuned thunder of Floor’s bassless power trio attack when Floor plays the main stage of the 013 venue at the 2015 Roadburn Festivalon Thursday, April 9.

Combining many of the essential themes of Roadburn music in their volatile sonic elixir — psych, space rock, stoner rock, kraut rock and noise — have made White Hills one of Roadburn‘s favorite bands. Their bespangled and energetic live shows have a life and chaotic energy of their own that reshapes their music and creates powerful sonic programming driven by pure energy, exactly the kind of thing that Roadburn celebrates, and fans seek. White Hills will make a very welcome return to Roadburn for a main stage performance on Sunday, April 12.

After winning the limelight category for the brightest young rising stars in the progressive sky today at this year’s Progressive Music Awards this past weekend, Messenger will bring their acid folk/prog and psychedelica to the 20th edition of Roadburn on Saturday,April 11.

Mortals, The Osiris Club and Zoltan have also been confirmed for the 20th edition of Roadburn Festival.

Curated by Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved) and Wardruna‘s Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik, Roadburn Festival 2015 (including Skuggsjá, Enslaved, Wardruna, Fields of the Nephilim, Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin performing Dawn of The Dead and Susperia in its entirety, Zombi, Sólstafir, White Hills, Bongipper,Floor and The Heads as Artist In Residence among others) will run for four days from Thursday, April 9to Sunday, April 12 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

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Return To Yggdrasil – An Interview With Wardruna

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Wardruna, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photography

A student of the Runes and a self-confessed “history nerd”, Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik has brought the ancient Norse sounds of Wardruna to life in modern times. Ghost Cult scribe Ross Baker caught up with him to discuss strange instruments, history and where Selvik’s maverick vision will take him next.

Wardruna uses so many unusual instruments to make music from deer-hide frame drums, bone flute, goat and cow horns and Hardanger fiddle to name a few. How did you gather such instruments?

Many of these instruments were made for me by specialists but some I collected from places. It was very difficult to find as not many people make or know how to play them either so I had to teach myself. I am a self-taught drummer and guitarist but things like the bone flute were very different. It was important for me to have all these instruments so the music has the correct feel. It took me seven years to write and record the first album and a lot of that was because each composition relates to a rune and each Rune demands something different.Instruments, sounds and seasons and even specific dates all represent the symbolic power of the Runes we are trying to express the meaning of. When we recorded for the rune that relates to water, we needed to be outside by a river. It is a very time-consuming process recording this band because the conditions have to be just right.

 

You described Gap Var Ginnunga as “sowing a seed” and Yggdrasil is the tree the Norse Gods meet at. Ragnarok will be the last album of this “Rune trilogy”. Will that be the end of Wardruna’s involvement with the Runes?

Wardruna will always be connected to the Runes in some way. A lot of people misinterpret Ragnarok as what the Christians called Armageddon but it is not that at all. Ragnarok is the great transformation, the end of something and the beginning of something new. The album will signal a change in our sound and how we evolve. How that will sound I cannot say yet.

 

How do you wish Wardruna to speak to people who may not be familiar with Norse history and culture?

To make a tree stand it must have strong roots or it will fall. Wardruna is not a re-enactment or us pretending to be Vikings, it is about celebrating our roots and culture. This project takes inspiration from our native culture but it is about creating something current and new. It is also important for me to dispel a few myths about the Runes and Norse culture that have been misinterpreted and made almost cartoonish by the media.The image of the Runes has been tarnished by some right-wing racist idiots who have no business using them and only did so for their own gain. I want to give the Runes a voice and let them speak for themselves! A lot of these songs have universal themes about man communicating with nature and the universe. I think people from all cultures can be inspired by that.

 

The Wardruna song ‘Fehu’ was used in the cable T.V. series Vikings. As someone with a strong interest in history how do you feel about the way the series portrays the Vikings and the culture you come from?

I am pleased with the way ‘Fehu’ was used but it is difficult for me to watch that series.I understand this series was produced primarily for the purpose of entertainment, even though it was on the History Channel but it is almost painful to watch because there are many inaccuracies.The way the Norse worshipped and traded for example were not depicted correctly but I understand this programme was not meant for a history nerd such as me. I do like some of the ways it portrayed the Vikings as they were; farmers and spiritual people with families. They were not just a bunch of barbarians! We come from a rich culture.

 

Wardruna’s music is steeped in Norse culture. How do you see it translate with people of different nationalities? Do different audiences react in differing ways to your music?

Actually it is remarkably similar. Our live performances evoke very strong emotions in people wherever we perform. I think it is important to have a venue that creates the right atmosphere and allows us to express ourselves.I have seen people crying at our concerts because the music is sometimes very melancholy. Wardruna’s music is very personal and it is sometimes hard for me to share it with people.I know we sing in the Norse language which most Europeans or other nationalities don’t understand but I feel the music has a life of its own and speaks with its own voice. People are clearly hearing his voice as it inspires such a reaction. The response has been overwhelming and it is very emotional for me to perform. This is not just music for the ears but for the spirit, body and mind. We want to create a connection, a non physical dialogue with our audience and I believe we are succeeding in doing that!

 

The two other vocalists Wardruna utilises are your ex-Gorgoroth bandmate Gaahl and folk singer Lindy Fay Hella. Do they bring anything to the creative process besides their voices?

Well Kristian (Gaahl) has worked with this kind of music on his own for a long time so he has several ideas he can bring to us. I am the main songwriter however our creative process is very organic. It can come from improvisation, a drumbeat, a lyric anywhere! Lindy brings a truly ethereal quality we needed for Wardruna. Her vocals offset ours perfectly and conjure up many different emotions. Our environment is very important for our rituals. Each composition is dictated by the Rune and the seasons and elements it represents. I may write a few parts then bring them to the group or I will gather them and suggest we work on something. It is whatever serves the Rune the best!

 

Coming from the Black Metal scene do you feel there is any link to Wardruna such as a shared attitude or set of ideas?

Definitely. Many people forget that Black Metal is not about a sound but the idea of doing whatever you want. I got out of playing Black Metal because it became quite monotonous. Suddenly it was all about who can blast harder and who can shred the most on guitar. It has lost all feeling. Wardruna allows me to connect with my roots but also move forward. Our creative process is very intense and inspiring!

 

What is your vision for Wardruna going forward? Do intend to expand the line up with other musicians?

I want to make it both bigger and smaller. I have lots of plans for Wardruna. Some compositions may be very stripped down and acoustic with minimal arrangements but I also want to add musicians for some things too. I have considered using a choir and more percussionists and I am always thinking about ways we can expand our horizons.

ROSS BAKER

Wardruna – Website

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