Wardruna is a Norwegian music constellation dedicated to create musical renditions of the Norse cultural and esoteric traditions. With the use of the oldest Nordic instruments and poetic metres as well as lyrics written in Norwegian, Norse and proto-Norse tongue, Wardruna sets out to give new voice to ancient and still relevant ideas and wisdom from the past.
Einar Selvik founded the group in 2002 and has ever since their public debut in 2009, patiently established themselves internationally as important communicators of Norse and Nordic cultural heritage. They are known for doing very few and special concerts, often in places that compliments their music, perhaps most notably when they performed in front of the majestic 1100-year-old Gokstad ship at the Viking Ship Museum in Norway. Over the years Einar Selvik and Wardruna have also gained a broad audience through their substantial musical involvement in History Channel’s hit series VIKINGS.
This October Wardruna will release the third and final part of their rune-based trilogy entitled “Runaljod – Ragnarok” and will do a small tour to support it.
Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik
Lindy Fay Hella
Enslaved was formed in 1991 by Ivar Bjørnson and Grutle Kjellson, and did their first demo “Yggdrasill” in the summer of 1992, while the legendary mini-album “Hordanes Land” was released the year after in 1993. Enslaved’s debut “Vikingligr Veldi” came in the spring of 1994, while the successful second album “Frost” was released already winter 1994. In many ways “Eld” (’97) marked the opening of a horizon-widening era for the band, with a small detour on “Blodhemn” the following year: Enslaved’s most furious and black-edged effort to date. “Mardraum (Beyond the Within)” was released in 2000; taking on an experimental and innovative approach for Extreme Metal. The band followed up with “Monumension” in 2001; receiving more (pleasantly) surprising positive response to their “no rules” approach to Extreme Metal. Many see an important milestone being “Below the Lights” (’03) – where the progressive yet darker Enslaved emerged. A new line-up was put together after the recording of “Below the Lights”, marking the opening of a new, shimmering chapter.
The new line-up released the album “Isa” in late 2004, and the album put Enslaved at the very forefront of contemporary Extreme Metal; both as a recording and live artist – proving the latter with the release of acclaimed live-DVD “Return to Yggdrasill”. “Ruun” was released in 2006, and received numerous great reviews from fans, magazines and websites worldwide. Early 2007 Enslaved sat out on their first full tour through USA and Canada since the late 90s; following up with treks all over Europe and more North America. Back in the studio the band conjured up “Vertebrae” (’08) together with mixer Joe Baresi – an album that spread across the globe like fire with extensive promotion and extensive touring. More inspired than ever the band worked on a new album throughout 2009, and started recording during the first weeks of 2010. The band’s first co-operation with mixer Jens Bogren; “Axioma Ethica Odini” received Enslaved’s 4th consecutive Norwegian Grammy in the Metal category (“Isa”, “Ruun” and “Vertebrae” receiving the three previous awards).
Enslaved continued to tour Norway, Europe and North America; and released two exclusive EPs during 2011 (“The Sleeping Gods” 10” and “Thorn” 7”). Never ones for resting, Enslaved worked intensely with an album throughout all of this – and in 2012 they inked a worldwide deal with leading label Nuclear Blast Records. This all resulted in Enslaved’s groundbreaking 2012-album “Riitiir”, followed up throughout 2013, which became a year of expansion for Enslaved – with North American and European tours, and of course more festival appearances around the world. It also became the year when Enslaved finally made its way down under to Australia, a highly memorable and successful endeavor. Upon returning at the end of the year, songwriting once again commenced and 2014 were set to be the year when Enslaved took yet another step up, out, forward and whatever directions there are. The year started with supporting Swedish brother-in-beards Amon Amarth. Then the summer and autumn two highly public commissioned pieces in Norway, and recording a new album. 2015 was one of the bands busiest years; festivals were being played en masse, Enslaved’s own Ivar Bjørnson curated Roadburn 2015 (where Ivar and the band were involved in no less than four performances), and the new album “In Times” and its accompanying tours has set a new precedence for what progressive Extreme Metal can be. True Norwegian Innovation, in short.
As with the two previous albums, the team of producers once again came from within the band: Bjørnson, Larsen and Grutle – with the addition of Iver Sandøy. Large parts of the recording wereagain done in the band members’ own studios in Bergen and the remote village of Valevåg. The mix and mastering was handled by respectively Jens Bogren and Tony Lindgren; both from Fascination Street Studios. One of Enslaved’s trademarks has been the magnificent paintings that adorn the covers, and “In Times” is no exception. Norwegian artist Truls Espedal, who has worked with the band since 2001, has done the impossible with topping his own previous masterpieces once again.
2016 is the band’s 25th anniversary – anything can and will happen!
Ivar Bjørnson (guitar)
Grutle Kjellson (vocal & bass)
Cato Bekkevold (drums)
Herbrand Larsen (keyboard & vocal)
Ice Dale (solo guitar)
BardSpec is the Ambient project/band from Enslaved composer/guitarist Ivar Bjørnson. This June, By Norse will release the debut album “Hydrogen”. Having launched at Roadburn in 2015, BardSpec has since evolved into a fully fledged band, with Steve Austin (Today is the Day) on guitars/effects, David Hall presenting the live visual aspect of the project, with the layout created by Josh Graham (Soundgarden, Neurosis, IIVII, etc.)
BardSpec music combines stirring, hallucinatory synth-sounds with mercurial guitar effects and hypnotic rhythms that navigate illusory landscapes. Field recordings, and other found-sounds also drift and evaporate into the ether. Working intuitively with these elements and with sharpened senses, attuned to inner impulses, this is immersive music, that can exist anywhere, and anytime within the minds of the listener.
Whilst BardSpec might essentially be the same brain and personality making the music, compared to Enslaved, it is a widely different entity. Thematically and sonically, BardSpec is about minimising, subtracting and meditating upon the simplest essence of “things”; the single points: exemplified through the song titles, like “Bone”, “Salt” and so on, the basic elements and foundations that make up the whole. There is an element of “space” in the music, and the artwork, as a representation of the inner workings of the mind and the subconscious.
Inspired by the German masters Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schultze, Conrad Schnitzler as well as contemporary ambient music like Norwegian one-man-band Biosphere and abstract modern electronic music like When (Norwegian also), as well as the electronic/industrial-driven metal like Godflesh. Ivar describes the appeal and trance-inducing aspects of such music to him, “I remember listening to Richard Burmer and his album “Mosaic” from 1984. I thought I fell asleep but I was in a semi-lucid state where I still registered music – but not much else. At the end of side A there’s an explosion so violent and extreme that I jumped two feet into the air and was totally shocked. The weird thing is, I couldn’t remember it being there. When I revisited the music again it was just a little “thud”. I was just experiencing a trance so deep into the music that this deviation from the pattern and frequencies in the foregoing half hour of monotony totally shocked me. I loved it!”