Band :  Wardruna

Album : Runaljod – Yggdrasil

Genre : Ambient/Pagan Folk

Release Date : 15.03.2013

Record Label : Indie Recordings

Wardruna is a Norwegian music group founded by Einar Kvitrafn Selvik. In 2009 Wardruna enchanted their listeners with their mesmerizing debut album ‘gap var Ginnunga’, which also was the first part of a planned trilogy. In the ensuing years the group have spent a lot of time on adapting their music to a live format and establishing a live band. This resulting in a handful of very special concerts, perhaps most notably when they performed in front of the majestic 1100-year-old Gokstad ship at the Viking Ship Museum in Norway.

With the use of the oldest of Nordic instruments and poetic metres as well as lyrics written in Norwegian, Old Norse and Proto-Norse tongue, Wardruna is now, after nearly three years in the making, finally ready to return with the second album in the ‘Runaljod’ trilogy entitled ‘Yggdrasil’. Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Einar Kvitrafn Selvik has, together with vocalists Kristian Espedal (aka Gaahl) and Lindy-Fay Hella, managed to make ​​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.

The ongoing ‘Runaljod’ trilogy is a musical rendition of the 24 runes in what is often referred to as the elder futhark. Some of the recordings are done outdoors in places or under circumstances of significance to each rune. Wardruna primarily use old and historical instruments such as primitive deer-hide frame drums, Kraviklyra, tagelharpe, mouth harp, goat horn, lur and more. Non-traditional instruments and other sources of sound like trees, rocks, water and torches are also used.

Album Review

From the first song “Rotlaust Tre Fell”, the album has a dark and atmospheric beginning that leads to a faster rhythm. Compared to the first song,”Ar var Alda”, from the first album,  Runaljod- Gap var Ginnunga , this song is a clear indication that this album is definitely more diverse and more ‘rhythmic’. It gets more interesting and catchier towards the middle of the song that it almost becomes like one of those shamanic rituals which is amazing! The first song is also one of my favorites from the album; it is an amazing intro song; it is so captivating that it welcomes the listener to a ritual from the first second and it will definitely make the listener want to hear more from the album.

Throughout the songs, the listener will feel the genuine Nordic spirituality and learn more about the runes of course; this album (as well as the previous record) all tell stories behind the eight runes from the runic alphabet, Elder Futhark. Moreover, the instruments such as the fiddler, Tagelharpe, deer-hide frame drums and the goat horn will impress the listener once more; it should be stated that these authentic instruments are an essential part of Wardruna’s music and if you are a fan of authentic folk instruments, you will be taken into another world throughout the songs.

One thing I love about this album (and about Wardruna’s music in general) is the natural sound. While listening to the songs, you will not only feel like you are in a spiritual journey but you will also be welcomed with the sounds of nature such as the sound of the wind. Especially, when these sounds are combined with the authentic instruments, the result is surely mind-blowing; as a matter of fact, Wardruna proves that this is how the music should be; natural and mind-blowing.

Personally, I loved the last half of the album more; the album gets a lot more interesting, ‘darker’ but also a lot more playful with the song “IWaR” and from there, you will have this urge to hear the songs over and over again and to embrace the perfection within the melodies and to hear those unique sounds coming from the instruments.

One highlight of the album is definitely “Solringen”; I found it different from the other songs, it felt like it stood out from the others and I am sure the listener will feel the same. What I loved the most about this song was the combination of the male and female vocals. Although it feels like the song is repeating itself, once you get carried away by the vocals and the melody, this song will not bore you at all.

I can recommend this album to any fan of ambient/atmospheric/dark music. If you are especially a fan of the Nordic culture and the languages, you will love Wardruna. Listening to this album will take you to those famous Norwegian forests or to the fjords; as a matter of fact, you will feel the breeze and the darkness in your spine through the songs; Wardruna manages to make the listener feel that vibe perfectly. Some songs that are worth listening are Solringen, IWaR, Gibu, EhWaR and NaudiR.

What more is there to say? Just sit back, relax, close your eyes and get ready to hear the true nordic spirituality!

Rating : 10/10

Just a quick note :  Runaljod- Yggdrasil is the second album of the ‘trilogy’ so I highly recommend the first album, Runaljod- Gap var Ginnunga, to the fans of this album. If you enjoyed this album, then you will definitely enjoy the first one since they complete each other as the first two albums of the trilogy.

Tracklist :

  1. Rotlaust Tre Fell
  2. Fehu
  3. NaudiR
  4. EhwaR
  5. AnsuR
  6. IwaR
  7. IngwaR
  8. Gibu
  9. Solringen
  10. Sowelu
  11. Helvegen


Einar Kvitrafn Selvik:  Writes all music and lyrics, sings and plays most of the instruments

Lindy-Fay Hella: Vocals

Gaahl: Vocals. Conceptual contributions