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Subterranea: Skuggsjá

Last year, Wardruna and Enslaved joined forces to create the enrapturing and turbulent Skuggsjá suite. In March, it’s going to be raiding consciousness as it hits the UK.

You can hear a pin drop. And an idiot bleating. Aside from a couple of overly inebriated attendees (“You can make that sound inside of you!” someone shouts back), the atmosphere inside the Great Hall is charged, reverent, connected.

This humbling, reconstructed three-storey wooden building, complete with fire pit, ornately carved pillars and bearskins and shields adorning the walls, is the heart of Midgardsblot – a festival set in the old Viking settlement of Borre, home of the Vestfold dynasty. Ancient burial mounds overlook a craggy coastline; archery, axe-throwing and various strenuous fighting games are taught; a Viking village has been set up and pilgrims have travelled from across the world for three days of Nordic culture, battle re-enactments, site tours, lectures, culturally aware heavy metal in the form of Ihsahn, Myrkur, 1349 and many more, and all-round, out-of-this-world enchantment.

Tonight, inside the Hall next to the main stage, Wardruna founder Einar Selvik is making a solo appearance, explaining his philosophy and the properties of his ancient instruments in between stripped-down renditions of songs that resonate outside of time, yet bind every possible moment into the here, now and beyond.

The history amongst these fields channels a continuity that takes many forms. The following evening, Enslaved’s Ivar Bjørnson will play under his Bardspec project: part electro-ambient, part Krautrock-inspired motorik groove and a study of motion that feels like the circulatory system through which the past can be constantly reborn. Midgardsblot’s closing ceremony in here the next evening will be Mayhem’s Attila Csihar in his Void Ov Voices incarnation: a multi-layered, unnerving incantation tuning into the frequencies of slumbering spirits nearby. This is an epicentre, and the waves will travel.


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