London By Norse is helping resurrect Pagan culture
Spearheading a resurgence in pagan culture and consciousness, the London By Norse festival drove Enslaved and Wardruna to our shores for three nights of esoteric ecstasy
A three-day showcase of Nordic music and culture, London By Norse has been constructed around a three-part performance by progressive Viking metal institution Enslaved, celebrating their 25th anniversary by visiting the various musical incarnations of this ever-evolving entity.
The first night takes us to The Dome in Tufnell Park for a celebration of the band’s earliest (and of course heaviest) years. The show is opened by Vulture Industries, who actually err more toward the progressiveness of Enslaved’s later years, while throwing in a heavy dose of theatricality into proceedings to boot. Eccentric and expressive, they provide a compelling and sometimes even bewildering display, making the raw bombast of Enslaved’s black metal assault all the more pronounced. If the crowd seems a touch reserved at first, both the band and audience warm up dramatically, as well they might given the stirring qualities of the band’s ferocious yet early compositions, with classic numbers drawn from as far back as debut album Vikingligr Veldi and even the 1993 EP Hordanes Land. It is a fearsome introduction to the festival that displays the black metal roots of not only Enslaved, but arguably every act appearing at London By Norse.
Day two begins with an afternoon event at The Forge in Camden, a modern venue with a suitably arty and intimate vibe. Things get off to a strong start with a performance by Ivar Bjørnson’s BardSpec – essentially a solo project by the Enslaved guitarist. Unsurprisingly, the crowd is unsure what to expect as he takes the stage with just a few instruments and pedals for company. The resulting sound – accompanied by a video piece featuring a monochromatic acrobatic display – is a bit of a shock to some here, but the rhythmic and industrially leaning hypnotic ambience is immersive and atmospheric. A well-received, perceptive and pleasingly candid documentary on the central musicians involved in the event – created by none other than Hammer’s parent company, TeamRock – sets the scene for a talk and demonstration by Einar Selvik, whose knowledge and passion on Norse history and instruments is as inspiring as his acoustic renditions of Wardruna material.