Monday, 28 July 2014

Wardruna - the sound of Vikings

Wardruna live. Einar Kvitrafn Selvik, Gaahl, Linda-Fey Hella
Wardruna in an outdoor concert

The Norwegian group Wardruna has a project called Runaljod - "the sound of runes". It is a project that goes far beyond the staves of the runes. To understand their deeper meanings, Wardruna examines the old runes in their mythological context. In their music we can feel Odin's pain when he pierces himself with his spear and hangs himself from Yggdrasil, the world tree, in order to get the ultimate insight. In Wardruna's  music we hear ravens croak, hooves of horses pulling the sun, and a pack of wolves baying behind, indicating that Ragnarok is inevitable.

Wardruna - Gap var Ginnunga

Wardruna has gone further. The members - Einar Kvitrafn Selvik, Linda-Fey Hella and Gaahl - have realized that runes have to be interpreted as a specific kind of practise. Their music is inspired by heavy metal and traditional Nordic folk music, and to reach a genuine feel of runes, the Wardruna members have reconstructed old instruments and uses frame drums, ceremonial drums, harps (Viking-fiddles), mouth harps, and a variety of flutes in their music. Their sound is truly unique: it's both genuinely Viking and very modern at the same time. No wonder it is used to create atmosphere in Vikings, the TV-series.

I'm sorry I didn't discover Wardruna before. Their first CD (in a trilogy) - Runaljod - Gap var Ginnunga - came in 2009 and the second - Runaljod - Yggdrasil - in 2013. In the same period - and much longer - I have been interested in Norse mythology and Old Icelandic literature, and last year I published the two first books in a Vikings series: The Slayer Rune and The Lethal Oath. As the titles suggest, the first has the magical powers of runes as an action-driving theme, and the second deals with the dangers of breaking sacred oaths.

In my stories seidr, galdr, rune magic, and shape-shifting are no fantasies but hard facts of reality. The life of Sigve the Awful is weaved by the Norns, but Sigve's luck and  prosperity depends on his own courage and ability to make his fate. But, like all others, Sigve depends on Thor's strength, Freya's erotic powers, and Odin's cunning and support. I addition to telling exciting stories, in my books I'm trying to give a modern interpretation of life in the Viking Age. In this ambition I feel very much in tune with Wardruna and their music. I would have wished, however, like the producers of the TV-series Vikings,  that I could have put Wardruna's sounds to my stories.

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