Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch”series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music and musicians from the 60’s to today. Enjoy the trip!

Wardruna is a musical project based on Nordic spiritualism and the runes of the Elder Futhark. It was started by Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik in 2003, along with Gaahl and Lindy Fay Hella.The band began in 2003 and have since released five albums, each based on a set of runes. Their musical renditions are of ancient Norse and Nordic traditions.

Here is a short biography taken from the bands website.

Main composer Einar Selvik initiated Wardruna in the early 2000s together with Lindy-Fay Hella and former member Gaahl. In 2009 we released our debut album and first part of the Runaljod trilogy featuring musical renditions based on the runes. Each of the three albums is focused around eight of the twenty-four Proto-Norse runes, more commonly known as the Elder Futhark. The runes are interpreted on their own premises, although here their various qualities are placed in the wider context of various ancient Nordic traditions relating to nature and human and spiritual relations. For this reason, some of the recordings have also been made in various locations or under circumstances that have particular significance for the rune in question. Bearing in mind that there will always be space for disagreement when working with the runes, it is important to emphasize that whether these mysterious symbols are approached by artists, scholars or modern sages, the truth of the matter is that there are so many things about their esoteric use that we can never be certain about. Our approach is artistic, scholarly and mystical, our songs working out from the core meaning of each rune implied by the sparse original sources we have at hand, building on those qualities that lie behind the whole concept and purpose of Wardruna: sowing new seeds and strengthening old roots. The albums of the trilogy are:

Runaljod – gap var Ginnunga (2009)
Runaljod – Yggdrasil (2013)
Runaljod – Ragnarok (2016)

After years of giving acoustic concerts and lectures, performing Wardruna songs and creations made for the TV-show Vikings on his own, Einar Selvik decided in 2018 to record the album Skald based on parts of that material. Skaldwas recorded live in the studio with the intention of capturing the raw and uncompromising energy of a live performance rather than aiming for a flawless and polished expression. It set out to give voice to the ancient craft that once lay at the heart of the Norse oral traditions, presented as it takes shape in the hands of a humble contemporary skald today.

Wardruna’s fifth full-length album Kvitravn (White-Raven) was released on January 22nd, 2021. The album musically continues where the Runaljod trilogy left off, yet it marks a distinct evolution in our sound. The album features a broad selection of both traditional and historical instruments such as Kravik-lyre, Trossingen-lyre, Taglharpa, Sotharpa, Langeleik, Crwth, Goat-horn, Lur, Bronze-lur, flute, Moraharpa and the record also features guest appearances by a small group of prominent traditional singers, spearheaded by Kirsten Bråten Berg, one of the most important custodians of Norwegian traditional song. Throughout eleven songs, Kvitravn discusses Northern sorcery, spirit-animals, shadows, nature and animism, the wisdom and meanings of certain myths, various Norse spiritual concepts, and the relation between sage and songs.

In 2022, a year after the release of Kvitravn and as a prelude to the forthcoming live dates, Wardruna are presenting Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven – an audio-visual ‘live-in-studio’ recording that was broadcasted online, as the release show of the Kvitravn album, recorded in a time when it was not allowed to perform in front of an audience. Just like for a regular concert, the set list was carefully put together with a selection of songs from all Wardruna albums, including a handful songs from the Kvitravn album, performed for the very first time. Scheduled for release on 22nd April, 2022.

Psychedelic Lunch

Written By: Timothy Voldemars Johnston

Let me paint you a picture, set the scene.

The day started shitty. Work was busy, weather was bone chilling and my mood was…unpleasant. Up at 6am. Out the door by 6:30. Same as usual. But unlike usual there was an energy in the air. A tingling feeling that something was coming. Something that would change things. Got off work at 4. Felt like shit. In the back of my mind I’m thinking, perhaps I should just go home and actually get some sleep, but no, I have somewhere to be, comrades to meet-up with and a band to see. So, I take the hour and a half drive downtown… through our ugly city in rush hour traffic, past the hordes of miserable shits right into the heart of it. To say that the drive put me in a worse mood would be an understatement. Luckily parking was quick to find. I’d never been to this part of the city before so I had no idea what to expect so I came early just to make sure I wasn’t late. Perhaps I’d find something new. But, in a city such as this, I should have known this part would be the same as all the others. Yes, I’m bitter. That should be obvious. Standing before the parking meter a man comes up to me and asks if I’m going to the Wardruna show. He doesn’t look like a metal head so I’m thinking, scalper. I don’t like scalpers. I tell him politely that I am and very much looking forward to it. He asks if I have tickets already. Arg, scalper for sure. Yes, I tell him. He says ok, he has extras and was going to give me one. Yes, give me, free. Finally a smile creeps onto my face. The mood changes. Not as scalper. I remember that Wardruna may be bringing out a different type of crowd. Not just metal heads. I silently admonish myself. We start talking of neo-folk bands and how this show is going to be amazing. My mood now brightened considerably, I walked towards the venue. On the way I start to see men and women in full Viking garb. Fuck ya. They have smiles on their faces and are just glowing with anticipation. Now I’m getting excited myself. The energy is strong pulling me from my darker self. I start to stop thinking about work and start thinking about what is about to happen. I have no idea what’s going to happen. That makes it even better. From the conversations I’m hearing around me it seems no one has any idea of what they are about to see. Anticipation builds.

I get to the venue and lo and behold some of my tribe are there (I go to a Pagan event every year and consider those people my tribe). They rush up and greet me and great conversation is had. Some of them have driven hours just to get there to witness what is about to happen. And again, they aren’t metal heads so again I admonish myself for my earlier short-sightedness. After a good conversation I go to grab some food at the Allen (beside the Danforth Music Hall where the show is) and meet up with my Hexenklad bandmates John (who is the reason I got a ticket) and Andrew and Andrew’s brother Alex. Good food is had and the drinks flow. Also, got to hang out with Wolven Ancestry’s old drummer Jean-Guy Demers who I hadn’t seen in a long time.

Finally it’s time. We get into the venue’s lobby and its chaos. Organized chaos but still, chaos. People everywhere. All laughing and talking and greeting each other. Everywhere I turn I know someone. The energy is electric. Anticipation is building. We finally get through the crowd and get to our seats. Small seats (for us big folk). Nice big venue. Like a larger Opera House (though it’s all pastels and the stage is lower and the floor is slanted so everyone anywhere can see the stage perfectly). The lights go down. Cheering begins. Then a spotlight comes on, two men in tunics with giant horns stand in the middle of the stage, their shadows huge upon a custom backdrop that, depending on the lighting, looks like frosty snow or bright green leaves or brown wheat fields or just trippy textures. The sound that comes out is huge. It fills the room. Overwhelming. Other instruments start coming in. Building to one crescendo after another. Then darkness. The next song starts. Every song that follows, ebbs and flows, builds up and crashes down, the songs like waves of sound on an unimaginably deep ocean of meaning. I am in a trance from beginning to end.

The main vocalist’s voice is amazing. Emotive yet with perfect pitch and quite an impressive range. He used hand gestures throughout the performance to let us all know which song was being sung and what the song was about (which in and of itself if quite impressive). The female singer on the other hand never stopped moving. She swayed to the music, enraptured in the moment, her voice soaring through the hall. It was quite beautiful to watch the two opposites on stage both becoming one with the music.

When the lights finally came on the audience erupted in applause. Standing ovation from everyone there. Screaming and cheering and clapping the audience hailed the band. We’ve all been honored to witness what just happened.

Wardruna – One of the best shows I’ve ever been to. More of an experience than a show. I was blown away. Beautiful and powerful and trance-inducing. From beginning to end perfect.

Written By Timothy Voldemars Johnston

Wardruna A Night To Remember