Spiritual adventures in the heart of Norway

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A band who for whom Norwegian folklore, history and spirituality is so deeply embedded, Wardruna have always been the most open-ended and selfless of live experiences, one that feels like a personal reckoning at the point that you’ve lost all your bearings.

So as much as a performance in their native country might have an added resonance, rarely has music felt so universal or in the flow of something that knows no borders. In a grand, amphitheatre-style venue known for hosting folk artists, and with Gaahl no longer part of the live setup, tonight offers further proof that the band have become unmoored from their black metal backgrounds to become a wider cultural force, and on an emotional level, impossible to contain. Even if Einar Selvik is the keystone, Wardruna are a collective, the asymmetric rhythms tapped out on logs, animal hide percussion, ancient stringed instruments and harmonised vocals all unfolding into discrete rhythms that layer over each other into a greater, utterly enrapturing whole.

Songs often have a sense of a presence emerging, Hagall’s susurrating drones flowing over heartbeat drum and orbited by a whole ecosystem of rhythmic lacings, NaudiR’s seductively insidious flooding of the senses both feeling like they’re restructuring your biorhythms, shifting consciousness onto more receptive wavelengths. If Lindy-Fay Hella’s vocals are an arresting, otherworldly presence, Wardruna always roam a meeting ground between the ethereal and the organic, aligning you something that’s both bigger than yourself and latent within. Wherever they play, Wardruna sound like a homecoming.

Jonathan Selzer

Having freelanced regularly for the Melody Maker and Kerrang!, and edited the extreme metal monthly, Terrorizer, for seven years, Jonathan is now the overseer of all the album and live reviews in Metal Hammer. Bemoans his obsolete superpower of being invisible to Routemaster bus conductors, finds men without sideburns slightly circumspect, and thinks songs that aren’t about Satan, swords or witches are a bit silly.