Wardruna - Grá


Key Facts

Country: 🇳🇴
Genre: Nordic Folk
Release Date: 21st February 2020
Record Label(s): Sony Music
Album Release Date: 5th June 2020

Band Members

Einar "Kvitrafn" Selvik – vocals, all instruments, composer
Lindy Fay Hella – vocals, flute
Arne Sandvoll - backing vocals, percussion
HC Dalgaard - backing vocals, percussion, drums
Eilif Gundersen - horns, flutes
John Stenersen - moraharpa

Wardruna - Grá



Review
Rating (Out of 5🤘): 🤘🤘🤘🤘🤘

Deep in the depths of Norway, a pack of wolves stir in the forrest, a solitary wolf howls. A drum beats a solemn rhythm as the spiritual ritual begins and the gods awaken by the fireside, the horns start to sound. It can only mean one thing, the mighty Wardruna have returned! Everyone's favourite Nordic Folk band have returned with  a Goliath new song by the name of Grá. This is the first single from the band's upcoming album Kvitravn (meaning White Raven). Everyone by now knows I'm a pretty big Wardruna fan, so it will come as no surprise that I love this song (I just need to see them live and  witness the sheer spiritual power they possess, then my life is complete)! It's easy to see why their next album is very highly anticipated, and Grá is a definite tease track, as it gives us just enough to have an idea what the album will sound like, but not enough to give the game away. It is fair to say I am very excited!

Musically, Grá is rich in atmosphere and presence, whilst continuing where the Runaljod trilogy left off. I say rich in presence because there is something very healing and spiritual about this song, looking into the lyrics of this song, especially about its final verse, I think this is a fair interpretation of the songs message.

Berre spring til mine skogar
Berre jag i mine fjell
Før din flokk til mine dalar
Lat oss laga ringen heil
Eg skal syngje deg vegen heil
Eg skal syngje heimat heil

You may run to my forests
Roam freely in my mountains
Lead your pack to my valleys
Let us restore the ring
I shall sing you safe on your way
I shall sing you safely home

One thing that I always enjoy about Wardruna is how deeply their music makes you think. Whilst it is epic and fires the imagination, there is an incredibly rich storytelling, deep lore and cultural tradition behind the songs. With this in mind, Grá is no different. The wolf howls in the background draws me to think about the roaming freedom wolves of Northern Europe previously had and how us humans have encroached on and savaged nature. Either way, unless I ask Einar himself I can only assume of the meaning of the song is. The song has a very trance like rhythm the lulls you into this spiritual process of deep listening. Wardruna have never been a band that I can simply have on in the background, I have to invest my time and get swept up in the ambience of the soundscape they've created. The vocal melody is ultimately carries the song, I had a new appreciation for Einar's vocals after 2018's Skald, accompanied mainly by the very talented Lindy Fay Hella intertwining her vocals between the low vocals of Einar and the throatier vocals of Arne Sandvoll and HC Dalgaard, it builds up this epic atmosphere that is paid off once all the other instruments kick in and you feel empowered by this ancient instinct that gets unlocked when you listen to them. Overall Grá is a remarkable song, well written and superbly arranged for maximum effect.

From the production stand point, it is very much aligned with previous Wardruna releases. Carrying on with this super deep and rich low end from the horns and lower voices to build this foundation for the mid range instruments. Those mid range instruments are very much in the lower part of the mid range when mixed, when on their own they tend to be a little higher in pitch from what I have researched. They're all layered over these pounding and trance drum beast that have a lot of bass to them and the subtlest of clicks with the emphasis mainly being on the rhythm itself. The vocals is where Wardruna mixes really shine for me, as they fill the space with power, passion and emotion, on Grá I really love the layering and reverb of these vocal tracks as it adds to this almighty soundscape in a really ritualistic way. Overall, its hard to describe the production of Wardruna as it is done so well with a specific objective in mind and so far I've never heard a bad production effort from them.

As the ritual gets underway, the gods invite you to join them and their favourite sons and daughter to sing, chant and heal spiritually in their presence. If you fancy injecting a bit of Norse pride and spirit into your day, check out Grá now!

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