Norway, 2016, dark folk / Nordic folk
Wardruna – Runaljod – Ragnarok: The following is not an attempt to interpret the eldar futhark, the ancient runes upon which this music is based, but rather my own wild speculative response to the album with reference to nothing more than my imagination, the music, and my knowledge of Norse mythology.
That distant rumble isn’t thunder. It’s flames. The world is on fire, for Baldr is dead. The drums and horns of war summon Tyr, god of battles and justice. The northmen call to him for defense and vengeance, for the wrongs done against them in these latter days are myriad. Fenrir’s snarls fill the still of the night after the wild summoning has ceased. Cavalry ride boldly in the distance, and the ever-hungry wolf bides its time. He, too, seeks vengeance. The beast has an old score to settle with Tyr.
The shield-maidens add their strength to the northmen’s cavalry, and their chorus is mighty enough to make the stars quail. There is concord among these soldiers in arms, and the men gladly accept the help of these brave women in the coming battles. There is momentary joy, and the war trumpeters stand on hilltops making their last calls to any stragglers. Now is the time to join the final war. The first of the last battles is engaged, followers of Tyr against Fenrir’s dark forest dwellers, beasts and shadows.
The northmen at last take a look at the ancient runes of Odin and learn what they can of their shadowy, otherworldly foe. Reading the runes, the warriors see in visions the birth and growth of Yggdrasil, the unfathomable void of Ginnungagap, and the giants in the wondrous infancy of their godlike race. Knowledge of the runes brings power, and thus men add sorcery to their arsenal. This new-found power grants them victories, but still the fires consuming the world strengthen, only serving to deepen the shadowy places they cannot yet reach…places where wolves stalk and slake their bloodthirst on men.
All the children, both living and dead, of the northmen sing one last time to the armies, telling them that all their futures are dead. There will be no more generations. So many have been slain on both sides, and now the soldiers of Tyr and the minions of Fenrir prepare for their final battle: Ragnarok. Then the drums, the fanfare of Tyr, begin. The one-handed god has arrived, and he speaks, crying out his challenge to his ancient foe, Fenrir. The Valkyries ride into this Final Battle as the Wolf comes to meet Tyr on the field of battle. Worldfire lights their bloody stage, and there they slay each other.
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One of the most beautiful, rich, haunting pieces of music I have ever heard.
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