Album Review

Heilung – “Drif” – [Season of Mist]

whngr   10/19/2022   12-inch, A Library

Rural Norse Spiritualism

Primal bone laden percussion, archaic harmonic vocal interpretations, with minimal modern electronic accompaniment, bird song, call and response, medieval ambiance, war beats, spoken word, and an assortment of hypnotic elements adjacent to the ancient lives of Nordic peoples.

These Scandinavians would liken themselves to modern shamanic practitioners and their activities regarded as rituals, with strong leanings toward theater which is explored thoroughly in their live performances. Clad in arcane costumes adorned with antler, fur, feather, and prehistoric symbology, surrounded by skulls, leather, and an array of traditional instruments. These sons and daughters of the Vikings seem keenly aware of the world’s tendency to equate their heritage and their ancestors as having a savage propensity for violence, which is by all accounts true, however Heilung would like us to to consider the much more peaceful, healing magic of the ones that stayed home from the campaigns of yore. Acting as emissaries to distant lands, touting the benefits of brotherhood, unity, and a deep rooted appreciation of prehistoric pagan society. However, they also seem to be aware that some of their fan base might have a tendency to take the celebration of Northern heritage a bit too far. So they are very clear in myriad sources that, though they absolutely look the part, they are not at all compelled by the power of the white race to the exclusion of, or the superiority over, other slightly or much browner peoples. One might wonder however, if their most ardent followers accept and align themselves with these ethos, as it is easy to imagine that behind closed doors, the lines might become a little blurry. But this is of little matter, racial bias and opinions being what they are. 

Although Heilung, does, at times, veer a bit too far into PBS fundraising territory for this miserable volunteer, it is hard to deny that there is something interesting happening on these recordings. Drif, the fourth studio release, is primal and profoundly connected to nature and the earth, the seasons, the spirits, and the heart. It builds upon something that resonates deeply with the modern Northman who longs for those ancient times that were far more in balance with their environment than the vast majority of us today. The cultures represented on this release were an integral part of the world as opposed to a consumer upon it… which is notable as Heilung appears to have become almost a brand in itself and is the first that I have witnessed to present a collection of tableware for purchase  on bandcamp and their website which are currently sold out, not the case for the massive assortment of clothing and jewelry available on their website which for my taste does detract somewhat from the apparent message on this beautifully packaged, if slightly flimsy, double LP.

Heilung was created by Kai Uwe Faust, a German artist who specializes in Old Norse Tattoos and Danish producer Christopher Juul in 2014 and after Juul’s partner, Maria Franz (of  progressive rock/pop project Euzen) contributed vocals to their debut album, “Ofnir” in 2015, she would become the third core member of the group. As they progressed they would acquire a veritable army supporting members for their relatively expensive and apparently powerful, live performances.

Denmark – 2022

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