With the current state of music, it’s really tough for musicians to get big without following trends set by previous big-name artists. Songs about love, fame, drugs and making things go boom are all over the place, and honestly, I’m a little bored. So as soon as I found Heilung, I was instantly captivated by the primal atmosphere that the band had crafted. Heilung is made up of three members, Maria Franz, Kai-Uwe Faust and Christopher Juul; from Norway, Germany and Denmark respectively. If they had to be defined to a genre, the general consensus would be that they are an experimental folk band, but more than that, I believe that they are storytellers.
“In order to connect to what was before, you have to disconnect from what is now,” says Juul. This is the essence of what makes Heilung what it is. A gander through their discography brings up songs like ‘Krigsgaldr’ and ‘Fylgija Ear’, and instantly one would find the drastic independence that the band possesses. When one listens to a Heilung song, they are transported into a different world, a world of the past, basing their music on original artefacts from the Iron and Viking ages. By relying on a historical aspect to their music, the band is able to create an atmosphere unlike anything that has been created. Because of this, the band can easily flip the switch between a whispered, solemn speech and a violent and rousing battle cry alongside a soothing and hypnotic voice reminiscent of the songs of a mythical siren.
In order to capture the sounds of the forest and clan, select instruments need to be used, so that the historical importance of their inspiration is recognised, and honestly, outrageous might be an understatement. Alongside their vocals, the trio utilise a Blot. A Blot is a horse skin drum decorated with human blood, has deer bones and a human forearm, rattles made from buffalo horns, clay rattles with human ashes, a Hindu ritual bell, Ravanahathas, reconstructed Viking silver cups and temple antiquities. Yet these aren’t the only contributors to the sound of Heilung. With an already overwhelming number of instruments, on top of a phenomenal sound production, Heilung implements nature itself into their music, with ‘Schlammschlacht’, a blasting piece of German poetry supported by the calming presence of rain in the background.
As with any band, a live presence has as much of an effect on reputation as the music itself. It is actually quite impossible to describe how visually different the band plays on stage. Heilung have a full show recording, where the audio for their live album Lifa came from, available on their Youtube channel. Besides being an amazing performance from all the band and touring members, they put forth an entirely captivating and energetic show that turns the atmosphere from the album into a reality. Lifa perfectly translates their studio album Ofnir into a more genuine effort, which already seemed impossible, which truly shows how much effort the band is putting into their music.
Words by Bilal Rasheed