For the very first time in the band`s 10-year history Wardruna gave an amazing concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. This Norwegian neo-folk/dark ambient project includes Kvitrafn and Gaahl, the two ex-members of Gorgoroth and a folk singer Lindy-Fay Hella. Despite the black metal background of the two founding members of Wardruna this project cannot be further away from the black metal genre. For it is more epic, artistic, spiritualistic it gives a remarkable and even uplifting musical experience. Every single soul that was the part of this experience felt as if they had been taken out from this world and travelled back in time.
The support performance was supposed to be an Icelandic duo with Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson (composer) and Steindór Andersen (singer) but due to ill health they had to cancel their performance. Instead of them an Irish dark ambient/drone band called From The Bogs Of Augishka appeared on the stage for a short set.
From The Bogs Of Augishka was formed in 2009. Since then they have released two full-length albums From The Bogs Of Aughiska and Roots Of This Earth Within My Blood and a split with Dark Ages and I must say that all these materials really test the listeners. Even on stage with a live session I found From The Bogs Of Augishka rather boring than interesting.
After the first `notes` and during the whole set I felt like I had already heard them somewhere because From The Bogs Of Augishka’s concept is quite similar to Sunn O)) who has got a wider repertoire but even they haven`t managed to achieve great success. It must be the curse of the genre.
Bleak soundscapes and noises supported by short clips on a projector characterised the performance of the two elegantly dressed skii masked gentlemen but even the narration at the background couldn’t help to understand what kind of message they tried to convey.
After a short break the stage was prepared for the long awaited Wardruna. The auditorium was filled and the audience consisted of metal fans wearing black band T-shirts and other members of the audience dressed smart who quite seemingly have got nothing to do with black metal as such. This variety in people attending the concert shows that Wardruna is widely recognized for its own merit not because of its members` black metal background.
The journey back in time kicked off with `AnsuR` from the latest album titled Yggdrasil released earlier this year as the second part of the Runaljod trilogy. It was followed by songs from the first album like Hagal, my personal favourite Bjarkan, later on with the angry Kauna and the whole set was closed with Helvegen. The slow repetative drums and deep chants hypnotized a few of us for sure and only the harsh storm of applauses woke us up from our dreams.
The sound was perfect. The choice of the venue couldn’t be better than the QEH. The key line up with other support musicians complemented the genius musical creation of Kvitrafn.
From a certain point of view it wasn’t just the first performance of Wardruna in England. It was more like a celebration of nature according to ancient nordic rituals.
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Algir Stien Klarnar
Rotlaust Tre Fell