‘The drum needed a blood sacrifice’: the rise of dark Nordic folk

‘The drum needed a blood sacrifice’: the rise of dark Nordic folk

February 16, 2021

Heilung jam with Siberian shamans and play with human bones, while Wardruna record songs submerged in rivers and on burial mounds. Now this vibrant undergound music scene is finding a wider audience

In 2002, holed up in an attic studio on the majestic Norwegian coast, Einar Selvik had a vision. He would create a trilogy of albums based on the 24 runes of the Elder Futhark, the world’s oldest runic alphabet. The multi-instrumentalist’s epiphany kicked off what is now one of the world’s most vibrant underground music scenes.

Calling on vocalists Lindy-Fay Hella and Gaahl, with whom Selvik had played in black metal band Gorgoroth, he created the band Wardruna and the first instalment of the trilogy arrived in 2009. It was called Runaljod: Gap Var Ginnunga (Sound of Runes: The Gap Was Vast) and had taken seven years to research, write and record. Each song told a story behind Nordic culture and traditions, via dark and ambient folk, played on ancient string and horn instruments, as well as animal hide drums.

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