Wardruna – Runaljod – Ragnarok (Review)

Author : Laura Cosheril

WARDRUNA have been taking the world by storm as of late and will continue to with this release. Runaljod – Ragnarok is the conclusion of their trilogy of releases following “Runaljod – Yggdrasil” and “Runaljod – Gap var Ginnunga”. WARDRUNA draw on their native Norse history and energy and produce a sound that cannot be compared and is so unique that you cannot help but fall in love with them. Ragnarok, according to Norse Mythology is the cataclysmic end of the world event which involves an epic battle between Gods, serpents and various other beings resulting in the death of several important Gods and leaving the world to rebuild from ashes. To be quite honest, there can’t be a more fitting title for this album.

My expectations are incredibly high for this album. I’ve been a fan for quite some time and have been awaiting the trilogy conclusion since their previous release. The album starts off incredibly powerful with “Tyr”. Straight away we know that we’re in for a glorious journey. Beginning with thunder and eerie, distant voices, this sets the tone for the entire album; it makes for spine tingling listening.

If you’ve listened to WARDRUNA before, you’ll know that they use native Norse instruments which directly contribute to their unique sound. One aspect I noticed very early on was their introduction of a wider variety of instruments and sounds. The composition of all of these new elements gives the album a much more epic feel that we’ve not heard before.

On this album we see a wider range of vocal talent both from Einar and Lindy. There are high pitched wails and lower toned growl type vocals in the same beat. The musical talent is undeniable and everything comes together with such precision; from the vocals to the instruments to the atmospheric soundscapes, this album is seamless.

One unfortunate reality about atmospheric albums is that a lot of them have a tendency to sound the same. This is not the case here. There are tone and atmosphere variations that could rival even the Vikings themselves. Perhaps the best example of this would be in the track “MannaR”, which progresses from slow and steady to absolute spine tingling warfare. Definitely a stand-out track.

Perhaps my favourite track on the album is the finale track, “Runaljod”. The most fitting position on the album for this song, it is the perfect track to end not only an album but a trilogy. It’s dark and haunting yet upbeat and positive; everything WARDRUNA are about.

If the end of the world had a soundtrack, “Runaljod – Ragnarok” would be it. In this album we’re taken on a dark and twisted journey through the eyes of these Norse Warriors; and to be honest, it’s hauntingly beautiful. Told like true Bards we are taken on the most epic tale of Norse Mythology. Most of the time we don’t know whether we’re listening to music or hearing sounds of centuries ago. The way WARDRUNA pull their albums together is phenomenal and this is no exception. I would almost go as far to say that this is my favourite release of 2016. An epic conclusion to a trilogy, it definitely raises curiosity as to where WARDRUNA will take themselves next.

Rating – 5/5

1. Tyr
2. UruR
3. Isa
4. MannaR – Drivande
5. MannaR – Liv
6. Raido
7. Pertho
8. Odal
9. Wunjo
10. Runaljod

Einar Selvik
Lindy Fay Hella

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