Wardruna – First Flight Of The White Raven: Album Review

A chance to relive the epic Wardruna live experience.

Release Date: 10th June 2022

Label: Music For Nations

Format: CD / Vinyl / Digital

Still warmed by the memories of a special night with Wardruna at Manchester’s Albert Hall (our review) we get the chance to relive (sort of) the experience. A recording of their virtual live experience from March 26th 2021 that captures for posterity their special set consisting of songs from the freshly released Kvitravn and a selection of favourites from the discography.

First Flight Of The White Raven is an audio-visual ‘live-in-studio’ recording broadcast 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, we get to hear Just like for a regular concert Wardruna carefully constructed a set list with a handful of songs from the new album performed for the very first time. “On the day of recording, we all stood together in the same room for the first time in over a year. Everyone came focused and well prepared and the energy felt like no time had passed,” says Einar Selvik.

We know how it feels and although nothing can beat being in a room with Wardruna, especially one as intimate and atmospheric as the Albert Hall, the thirteen songs capture as close to the thrill as you’ll get. Getting past the curtain raising and hair raising excitement of Kitravn is exhausting, but the percussive patter of rustic sticks at the start of Solringen and Raido and the pluck of strings that heralds Voluspa are as iconic and evocative as any rock guitar riff. Easy to understand the cheers that would (and did) greet their sound as the intro is recognised.

Close your eyes and you can be there. The heavy drones and ominous rhythms march a beat as the vocal incantations begin to swirl and hypnotise. Part religious experience, part spiritual awakening, part pagan ritual. Isa is a prime example, where the controlled tension briefly threatens to spill over but the discipline that’s a key feature of the Wardruna live performance is held in check, Rotlaust Tre Fel offering one opportunity to allow the thunder to tumble almost relentlessly yet never recklessly.

Lindy Fay Hella and Katrin Stenbekk flank Einar Selvik as major generals, evocative vocalists in their own right as the band grinds out the pulses and drones on their authentic instruments, immersing us in the sounds and stories of an unfamiliar culture. The occasional might and power of those enormous brass horns – the bukkehorn – that give the live show such a visual impact; UruR one that gives goosebumps and hints at the onset of something dark and threatening, the power restrained yet remaining cloaked in a magnificence. Bringing the ancient into the twenty-first century, Wardruna strike a blow for tradition.

Here’s Solringen from the broadcast:

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