Wardruna - Yggdrasil
Indie Recordings
Neofolk
11 songs (1:06:07)
Release year: 2013
Indie Recordings
Reviewed by Goat
Surprise of the month

A project of Einar Selvik (here dubbed Kvitrafn), who has drummed for Gorgoroth and Sahg in the past amongst other projects, Wardruna are not metal at all but will be of huge interest to metalheads nonetheless. Making the kind of stirring folk music that ‘viking’ bands so often touch on, Wardruna are something like a darker Dead Can Dance; rainfall, rhythmic percussion, the pleasant twang of native instrumentation such as bone flutes and goat horns… It’s a compelling mixture that is sure to please your ears, moving between atmospheric ambient pieces to those that are actual songs, with good variety throughout. Kvitrafn and hired hands, amongst whom is Gaahl on vocals, do a superb job all around, using a decent variety instruments like the hardanger fiddle and goat horn.

What surprises is just how compelling and even catchy the songs here are. Crashing waves and calling birds open the album on Rotlaust Tre Fell, before an epic horn and male choir seize your attention with a surprisingly energetic war chant, heavy percussion helping build the mood ominously. The following Fehu is vocal and fiddle-led, somehow melancholic in its epic atmosphere, like a funeral dirge for a fallen king. It builds up wonderfully as instruments are added, female vocalist Lindy Fay Hella switching between breathy chant and joining the choir to wonderful effect. The vocals in NaudiR are breathier and more ethereal initially, above the plucked strings and horns, but grow bolder as the track progresses, into melodic gang-shouts, while the following EhwaR has them follow the percussion in wordless calls.

The best moments can come when you’re least expecting them. AnsuR, for example, begins with clumsy-sounding shouts and slow, almost hammered percussion atop a sampled storm, before a gang start singing and horns chime up, creating a bold, almost warlike piece (the blacksmith crafting the weapons before the army marches, if you like). It’s hard to criticise any track, as each has something to recommend it. Ingwar’s fiddle-led build-up ends with almost hysterical female group chants, and the following Gibu uses a more grandiose choir with a hypnotic fiddle melody that underpins the entire song and leaves you wanting at least another ten minutes of it. As a whole, Yggdrasil is definitely some of the best folk I’ve heard in a while, with tracks like Solringen being downright cinematic in sheer epic effect. Highly recommended.

Killing Songs :
Rotlaust Tre Fell, Fehu, AnsuR, Ingwar, Gibu, Solringen
Goat quoted 83 / 100
Other albums by Wardruna that we have reviewed:
Wardruna - Runaljod - Gap Var Ginnunga reviewed by Alex and quoted 77 / 100
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